I meant to write something about My Little Pony: Equestria Girls about a year ago, but never got around to it. So here it is: the idea of setting the first Generation 4 movie mostly in an alternate dimension featuring teenage human versions of the MLP cast was controversial, to say the least. And indeed, were I given the gun-to-the-head options of either returning to high school or going to a land of candy coloured ponies, the choice would be obvious.
But- the first EQG movie is OK. The plotting is garbage, the character arcs are less arcs and more like binary switches, and the music is mostly forgettable. But the fun that everyone seems to be having with it is infectious, and there are a few moments of genuinely inspired cheese (in particular, the over-the-top magical girl style climax).
And the EQG premise has turned out to be an unexpected boon in another area: the introduction of alternate dimensions into MLP canon led to Kate Cook running with the idea in the rather epic comic story arc, “Reflections”.
So I was interested to see where they would possibly go with this spinoff world in the canon.
The plot of Rainbow Rocks, the second EQG movie, goes something like this: the Dazzlings, a trio of sirens disguised as teenage pop divas have started terrorizing Canterlot High. Twilight Sparkle is called back from Equestria to deal with the problem. Somehow defeating them gets shoehorned into participating in a battle-of-the-bands they are masterminding. You can telegraph the rest of it from there.
The first thing of note is that the human high school setting has here become less of an end in itself, and more as a setting where the writers can try things that wouldn’t work in Equestria (such as having the Mane 6 form a rock band). And with all the introductions taken care of in the previous movie, the plot is much tighter this time around. Also, there is something delightfully Buffy-ish about the whole setup this time around. I like the idea of supernatural forces setting up shop in the banal and mundane.
As might be expected from the premise, the movie revels in as many pop music tropes and cliches as it can, and for the most part it works. Seeing which characters get paired with which instruments and genres is amusing (and Derpy’s choice is particularly inspired).
This is helped by Daniel Ingram’s songs. While they don’t venture too far from the pop template of EQG1, there’s more interesting stuff going on here, from Trixie’s R&B to Rainbow Dash’s punk. The battle-of-the-bands theme also helps integrate them into the actual plot, giving them emotional weight.
As for the characters, the Dazzles are exactly the sort of catty, manipulative, love-to-hate-them gals you’d need for a story like this. Sunset Shimmer emerges as the most interesting of the protagonists, having to deal with the fallout from her villainous turn in the previous movie. And, again, having introduced and reunited the Doug Funny Mane 6 in the previous film, they’re given the breathing room to work as decent subs for our four legged friends.
Sprinkled throughout are all the sorts of nods and winks that get the fanboy in me excited – the cameo appearance of one season 4 character was flawlessly executed.
So, in sum, I’m glad that this movie exists. Cheesy and cliche? Right to its very core, but in all the right ways.