Taking place soon after the end of Season 3, Equestrian Girls introduces audiences to a struggling Twilight Sparkle who has recently been transformed into an Alicorn Princess. Soon after her coronation, she has her crown (which houses her Element of Harmony – Magic) stolen by a pony named Sunset Shimmer. Sunset takes the crown into an alternate dimension where the inhabitants are human instead of ponies. Now Twilight must enter this realm, find the human version of her friends, and retrieve the crown before Sunset can proclaim ownership of the human world. Did I mention that she has to win “Princess” of the Fall Formal dance to do this?
I am no stranger to full-length animated movies based off of Saturday morning cartoons. In fact, I highly encourage them as there are several movies from my childhood that were based off of Saturday morning cartoons. Tom & Jerry had their own movie, The Jetsons had one, G.I. Joe had a pretty awesome animated movie as did Transformers (the cartoon, not the live action). Even the live-action versions of animated cartoons did a pretty decent job. Scooby Doo, Richie Rich, and Flintstones are some of my favorite family films. So when I found out that My Little Pony was doing the same thing, I wasn’t all that surprised. Like the show or hate it, it cannot be denied that this animated series has swept the world (and internet) faster than originally thought possible.
The “gimmick” of the movie is the fact that all the ponies will be represented by human counterparts. This is, of course, to help sell the new humanized dolls that will be (if they aren’t already) hitting toy stores shelves. Again, this is no big deal. Some of the best cartoons ever made were done so with the sole purpose of selling toys.
However, unlike other cartoon-turned-movies, this film feels less than a movie that belongs in theater and more like a Special Feature that should be on television. The primary reason for this, and my biggest complaint of the movie, is due to the production value. Unlike the previous films that I have mentioned, Equestria Girls does not ramp up the visual production whatsoever and this is my biggest issue with the film. While other movies really step up their game (making the backgrounds more detailed, adding shadows and shading to the characters and environments), this movie did no such thing. I understand that the film was made in a short amount of time to capitalize on marketing toys, but if they could not up their production value, than the movie should have been released on DVD instead of limited theater release.
That being said, everything else was handled very well. The humor, the writing, the characters were all things fans would come to expect from the television series. There were a lot of references to the actual television series and even some shout-outs to the more hardcore members of the fanbase. One of the things I particularly enjoyed was seeing these characters interacting with technology. While Twilight is very inept of handling computers (or pens for that matter) because she is not used to having fingers, seeing other characters using cell-phones, social media, and even Youtube, was quite interesting. It is also a little sad because it is a reflection on the youth today. There is a key part of the film that revolves around the fact that because certain characters do not interact in person (relying on e-mail and texts instead), they think that other characters hate them. This is something that I hope kids who see the movie grasp; to stop relying on social media and instead deal with your friends directly.
Also, as a plus, it was less of a High-School drama film and (like the television series) more so on the values of friendship. While it does have some high-school clichés, it tends to avoid some of the worst ones in order to stay true to the actual plot.
Overall the movie was pretty solid if you take into consideration the age of the intended audience. As such, it doesn’t get very dark or twisted, (though there is a pretty cool “scary” scene that I enjoyed) like some of the movies I grew up with in the 90s, but the film still delivers.
I do not recommend seeing this in theaters, however. This, again, stems from my view on the production value. It really is a direct-to-dvd quality movie that was put into theaters. I stand by my personal belief that if a movie, even one such a this, is to be release in theaters than it ought to have a higher production value and overall quality than the television show that it represents.