I think I make it no secret that I am a Brony. If you still don’t know what that is, I am an adult fan of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, a fantastic animated series filled with great characters, excellent writing and a whole lot of heart. Putting that all aside for this review would be tough, especially when this is a film made specially for fans of the show. For this fan, it did an exceptional job transporting the show’s humor and message into a very bizarre concept.
Having recently been transformed into an alicorn princess, Twilight Sparkle (Tara Strong) has arrived in Canterlot to perform her princessly duties. At this moment, however, a stranger steals her powerful magical crown and tosses it into another world. As Twilight goes in to retrieve it, she finds herself transformed from a pony into an unusual and new creature: A human. While there, she finds her friends have also are humans in this world, Applejack, Rainbow Dash (both Ashleigh Ball), Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie (both Andrea Libman) and Rarity (Tabitha St. Germain). Together they try to help Twilight win her crown back by being named Princess of the Fall Formal, a title won several years in a row by the crown’s capture, Sunshine Shimmer (Rebecca Shoichet).
This was originally meant to be a TV movie, and it shows. The production value is equal to an episode of the series, from the animation to the music and the voice acting. The thing is, the show is known for having cinematic-quality animation, fantastic voice work and beautiful music. These qualities are all great to experience on the big screen, after having become accustomed to them on television. Considering they shortened Season 3 to be able to make this film, I’d say it was money very well spent.
A common and legitimate complaint among fans has been the premise of this film, and the fact that it even exists at all. It’s a blatant grab at a completely new market, with human dolls that can compete alongside Barbie or Bratz. Personally, I don’t really see what the problem with that is, but some people don’t like that. What you need to remember is that the people making Friendship is Magic have proven time and time again that they know how to handle these gimmicky decisions. Heck, the whole concept of bringing My Little Pony back is a gimmick to begin with, and people seem okay with that.
Once again, the writers have proved they know what they’re doing. Equestria Girls is a smartly executed story that is able to explain itself in a way that is enough tongue-in-cheek to let the audience know that they know it’s a silly premise while taking itself seriously enough to make that silly premise believable within the world of the franchise. They give surprisingly legitimate reasons to validate what’s going on.
For example, it is mentioned in the human world that there is a Twilight Sparkle living far away in a city, which explains how Twilight is able to appear in this world without causing any sort of interdimensional catastrophe by meeting herself. This also explains why the friendships between the Canterlot High characters aren’t as strong as their pony counterparts, because not having Twilight there with them has kept them from realizing their true potential. It actually fits together so nicely with the show that it almost feels like they planned it all along (which is clearly not the case if you ask the show’s developer, Lauren Faust).
Songs are another staple of the series featured here. Music writers William Anderson and Daniel Ingram decided to go with a strict pop-style soundtrack for the film instead of using the common showtune style from the series. I think this was an apt choice, given that showtunes just wouldn’t work in this situation. Those should be saved for if they do another movie with a more epic storyline. Here we have a simple-yet-sort-of-complex high school story, so playing the type of music high schoolers would listen to seems appropriate. Plus, it’s not like the show hasn’t featured pop songs itself. It’s even been nominated for an Emmy for one. The lyrics to the songs can be a bit spot-on at times though, which is a problem I have sometimes on the show. But just as on the show, the music really makes up for it. The songs aren’t as catchy as what’s found on the show, but they serve their purpose well.
I’m trying my hardest to keep fanboy tendencies aside and review this film professionally, but it’s hard to find anything particularly wrong with it. It’s not meant to be anything more than what it is, and as such it meets its goals on just about every aspect. I suppose there are some minor issues I had, like the fact that most of the songs serve as background music for montages. There’s maybe one too many of these, but it didn’t bother me since the visuals and the music kept it entertaining. I can totally understand someone disliking the film for how often it references and even re-enacts moments from the series. I felt like this worked in-context, however. It never feels like they shoehorned in a catchphrase because it made sense with the situation, something I can’t say about a couple episodes of the series that will go unnamed. It’s fanservice done right, and that’s harder said than done. There’s also no filler, which is surprising for what amounts to an elongated episode of a TV series.
As I said before, this is a movie made for the fans. It is not something that someone outside the fandom should be watching because they would easily get lost among the references and cameos. This movie is a work of appreciation for the loyalty, kindness, generosity, honesty, laughter and magic that the fans of all ages have brought to the show’s creators, and it should be viewed as such. I only hope the more cynical members of the community are able to appreciate and enjoy this movie as much as I did.