Monday, July 15, 2013

Nitpickery: Equestria Girls

Hey y'all.  That's right.  I'm going to do it.  I'm going to nitpick a movie where magical ponies turn into cliche teenagers.  Yup.  Why?  Because I can.  And I'm bored.  And it was on Youtube, not pulled down because probably it's a testimonial to how exactly Hasbro feels about its creation.

So how did it go?  Was the brony fan-rage well deserved, or did Hasbro convince them all that turning ponies into high school girls is super interesting?

The answer to that, is meh.  Truth be told, it wasn't bad enough to deserve hatred.  Neither was it good enough to be anything better than a cheap cash grab.  It was just there, with all of its errors and flaws.

Spoilers abound.

Before we get on, allow me to first say that I am not a brony.  I'm a girl, for one, and for two, the show isn't anything that special.  It's cute and all, but it's essentially standard fare for cartoons.  I fail to see why grown people consider it any better than things like Arthur the Aardvark or The Power Puff Girls.  The show has its ups and down, but doesn't seem to be anything deserving of the adoration of tons of fans.  I am left to ponder why it has become a comparable sensation to Star Trek.  This phenomenon is worth investigating.

Also, note that this isn't an attack on the My Little Pony show itself.  The show isn't horrible, and is in fact sometimes fun.  I'm just nitpicking because that's what I do.

But enough of that.  So the film starts off in the Crystal Kingdom, where Twilight is going to be coronated.  A mysterious pony named Sunset Shimmer (clear Twilight Sparkle ripoff) steals TS's crown in the night, and Twilight is forced to follow her through a mirror portal to retrieve it.  Twilight then discovers that she has become a human, and that the crown she wanted is being held as a prize to the girl that wins a vote at Canterlot Academy's dance.

There's about a million things wrong with this already.  Shall we begin?

First of all, why is the coronation being held in the Crystal Empire?  The empire was gone for a thousand years, indicating that the areas surrounding it probably would have been abandoned, as the locals wouldn't want to be captured by King Sombra, and also the loss of the Crystal Empire's economy prolly wrecked havoc on the surrounding villages.  Therefore, probably few people live there and thus making the trip to the coronation would be really annoying for most of the guests.

Canterlot is both more conveniently located, and is also the seat of Princess Celestia's authority.  It makes the most sense for the coronation to be held there.  Thus, there is no reason for the coronation to be held in the Crystal Empire, making their trip there only a cheap reference to the empire and to Princess Cadence.  Neither her nor the environment have any impact on the story.

Also, Twilight mentions early on that she's shy of wearing her crown.  Why?  She's worn it plenty of times.

Okay, so a mysterious pony steals the crown, and it accidentally ends up in a portal.  Mm'kay.  So why don't the girls go after it immediately?  Do they really have to wait around for Princess Celestia to explain who Sunset Shimmer is?  It really hurts the pacing, and it delays retrieving the crown.  Also, the reason of "upsetting the balance" that Princess Celestia gives for not letting anyone but Twilight go through the portal reeks of George Lucas style writing.  Pretty pitiful as an excuse.

Wow...a world where all the ponies have become high oooorrigginaaaal.  Oh, so it's hard to walk if you're just learning to be a human, right?  Good thing it takes just two seconds for Twilight to learn to walk on hind legs, and one nanosecond for Spike to learn to walk on four.  Wait, Twilight slams into the school door?  Okay, maybe it was a pull door....except that two seconds later Spike pushes it open with a single push of his little doggie paw.  Uh huh.

There are three major plot holes with Equestria Girls: the forced contest, easily solved conflicts, and lack of motivation for the antagonist.

First of all, the forced contest.  There was no real need either Twilight Sparkle or Sunset Shimmer to enter the Princess contest.  Given that Sunset appears to have no morals and saving Equestria should be more important to Twilight than her reluctance to break into the principal's office, both of these characters should have attempted to steal the crown.  Subjecting themselves to a contest willingly is just a cheap way for the plot to move forward according to the rules of a dumb teen movie.

At the very least, the two of them should have tried to steal the crown, only to discover that it's been locked in a safe.  Then they should both agree to let the contest decide (and Sunset steals the safe later).  That would at least make sense.  Or maybe a hilarious scene where Twilight tells the principal the truth, only for the principal to conclude, until the end of the movie, that there's something not quite right with the new student.

Also, if Sunset came out of the portal only a few seconds after the crown itself went through, wouldn't she have been able to confront human Fluttershy before the latter could get away?

Secondly, every possible conflict is solved easily and in seconds.  Twilight needs to walk?  She can do it!  Her friends are arguing?  Two minutes later everyone's hugging.  Someone framed Twilight for trashing the gym?  Good thing she keeps bumping into a random guy who likes her for no reason and suddenly wants to make sure she doesn't get in trouble.  And he just happens to find evidence seconds after Twilight finds out she has a problem.  Wait, the dance is delayed?  No problem!  The magic of friendship will change the adults' minds!  It's not like any of the students have actual classes to go to.

While we're at it, did anybody else notice that Rarity had no real reason to try and help Twilight out at the point where she throws a disguise on Twilight?  She hadn't even met Twilight at that point, and since she wasn't talking to the other girls, they obviously couldn't have asked for her help.  And yet Rarity somehow decides to help Twilight, despite the fact that the video of her holding books with her mouth in the library makes her look like a complete weirdo.

The "romance" is one of the more dull things about this movie.  Besides the fact that there is no reason for the two of them to like each other, and Twilight has to go home, they suddenly are a pair!  Pssht.  At no point in the normal show does Twilight express interest in romance with anyone, as she is too busy with her studies.  I know that suddenly she's a human, but does that mean her normal level of somewhat mature can't come through the portal with her?  Despite being crazy at times, Twilight really does end up on the mature side of things most of the time.  She doesn't squeal like a little girl or anything like that, and she doesn't fall for weird non-equine males that look at her with google eyes.

The final huge plothole is that Sunset Shimmer has improper motivation and no apparent plan.  Why the heck is she doing all this?  Sure, we do know that she was a former student of Celestia's, but what turned her evil?  She was mad that she wasn't getting more powerful fast enough?  Was she the only one in Equestria who hasn't heard the whole "friendship is magic" thing?  Whatever.

But the thing is, we don't know any of Sunset's plans, or how winning those other contests or bullying students will gain her power.  She asks Twilight about what the crown will do in the human world, but at no point is that question satisfactorily answered.  All the crown appears to do is turn Sunset into a demon and allow her to control other people's minds.  The crown of magic does that?  Why?  How does that make sense with what we know about the crown already?  Was Twilight able to use it for evil the whole time?

That means...huh...maybe there should be an episode where someone uses the alicorn amulet to control the elements of harmony and thus turn all of their good traits evil.  For example, Pinky's laughter would be at people instead of with.  Fluttershy's kindness can turn into controlling.  Dash's loyalty means she obsesses and won't leave people alone, and destroys anyone who even looks at her friends funny.  AJ's honesty can mean that she uses "honest" as an excuse to be cruel.  Rarity's suddenly becomes generous with other people's property.  And Twilight turns into a demon and zaps people.  And then they all have to be saved by Trixie.  Lol.  Either that's good stuff or I'm just a troll.

But back to demon Sunset.  It would have been cool if, y'know, she had actually done something with her zombie army of teenagers.  Instead Twilight finds a solution in two seconds.  I don't have a problem with the six friends using the crown even though Sunset is wearing it, but if friendship is magic and Sunset doesn't have any friends, then how can she even think the magic element is usable to her?

Anyway, Twilight wins, and then she uses her last few minutes of being in the human world to party down with Flash Sentry and the others.  However, Sunset said she has less than an hour to get back in the portal before it closes for a long time.  Was Twilight really sure that she had enough time to party before she went back through?  And what if some sort of ambitious other student decided to steal the crown, or Sunset was only faking her reform?  Fine, risk never going home, Twilight.  I don't care.  I'm not a brony.

Now, this is a rather short nitpickery for me, yes?  Well, there's just too much to nitpick.  The story's pathetic, the concept is cheap, the songs are bleh, and the antagonist is whatever the plot needs her to be.  The only thing "good" about this movie is literally that it has so many cameos.  At least this is what all the bronies say when they say they like it.  But that's the thing.  A cameo is showing of somebody known, and that's it.  It adds nothing to the story.  Half the time I don't even care about the cameos because I'm not a raving fan of My Little Pony.  Since that's the only good thing about the movie, then I could spend all day nitpicking the crap out of it.

So I will instead replace it.  How Equestria Girls could have been fixed!

Actually, the simplest way to fix it would be to just give it an entirely different concept, story and title, but for the sake of being understood, we'll just stick with the same concept: there is an alternate universe where all the pony people are humans and the magic element crown must be rescued from Sunset Shimmer.

First of all, Sunset Shimmer should be at the coronation.  Other students of Celestia or just plain fans should be crowded there to meet Twilight, one of whom is Sunset Shimmer, faking her way into Twilight's good graces.  That way she has an opportunity to grab Twilight's crown.  The portal itself does not open by itself, but has long since lost the power to send anyone anywhere.  However, Sunset Shimmer has managed to discover the magic to open the portal, possibly using the crown to escape.  However, the portal doesn't shut off automatically.  The magic that activates the portal also shakes the castle, waking everyone and sending the main six (NO PUNS) scrambling after Sunset.  They see Sunset get away, and then jump after her before the portal closes.

Yes, I want all six to go.  It's really stupid that only Twilight goes, especially with that whole "upsetting the balance" crap as a cheap excuse.  That way the plot doesn't have to waste time making them learn about each other and can instead focus on the task at hand.  Meanwhile, behind them in Equestria, Spike tells everyone what happened,  Queen Celestia explains whatever background we need Sunset Sparkle to have.  Maybe something about her being really powerful and dangerous, and that she can create images to trick people.

The queen has to use the power of the remaining elements to open the portal again. She sends Spike to help the girls and explain what the trouble is, because she can't open the portal for very long.   She says that if they can retrieve the crown, it will call to the other elements and the portal should be able to open again for the return trip.  Or, alternatively, there is no way back, and going to that alternate universe means that at best Spike can save his friends and stop Sunset, but they will all be stuck forever.

The girls then attempt to find the crown, noticing the contest for princess but not figuring out where the crown is until they see Principal Celestia taking it away from Sunset Shimmer, who was attempting to use it to take over the student body.  Principals Celestia and Luna are followed by the girls, who discover that it's being hidden now to prevent it from "disappearing".  Twilight tries to explain that the crown is lost, but a confused principal tells her that the crown will only be hers if she wins the contest.  The girls decide that they're going to try to win, and so they scatter toward all the groups to attempt to befriend them and get them to vote for Twilight.  Mishaps ensue as Sunset Sparkle attempts to do the same, but ultimately is simply not as likable as Twilight.

During all this there is a "romance", in that Flash Sentry likes Twilight -- who does not particularly notice his existence.  Despite his attempts to ask her out, she seems oblivious to the whole dating thing, and he begins to wonder if she cares more about winning a contest than him.  Sunset Shimmer gives him bad advice throughout all this, and at the end of the day uses his knowledge as a student office volunteer to find the location of the crown.  Note that Snips and Snails are entirely absent from this movie.  Because they suck.

Spike finds Twilight and the girls at this point, conveying his information.  Twilight explains that everything is fine, because she's sure Sunset can't win.  And this is so: Twilight wins the princess contest.  However, the crown is now gone.  Suddenly sparkles fill the dance room, showing images of Twilight doing cruel things.  The other attendees, including Twilight's friends, believe that she is evil.  This spell does not work on Spike, and since Flash Sentry wasn't at the dance, he wasn't affected.

Twilight and Sunset confront each other after Twilight runs from the gym, but since Twilight is without her magic there is little she can do but try to appeal to her friends (who are chasing her, rather like zombies) and have them remember the good times they had.  This starts to work, but Sunset reuses the crown to infect them again.  Enter Spike and Flash.  Flash mentions all the good things that Twilight has done while she was there, all the reasons why he is attracted to her.  Sunset is about to put a spell on him when Spike, who sneaks up on her, knocks the crown off her head.  The spell breaks, and Twilight's friends try to help her get the crown back, but Sunset recovers it.

Before she can reactivate the spell, Twilight realizes that it's the magic of friendship that makes the crown work.  The climax then proceeds rather like the movie as it is, except that Sunset is not immediately repentant.  She is unable to escape, however, as the student body is surrounding her.  Twilight explains the truth to Flash Sentry.  Spike then mentions that they have no way back home, as they don't know the spell to open the portal.  Sunset refuses to open it, and in any case can't do it without the crown, which they cannot give her.

Flash Sentry then realizes that it would be wrong to try and keep her in his world.  He then realizes that if the magic of six friends can defeat someone, then the magic of a whole bunch of friends should be able to open one portal.  Everyone on campus (other than Sunset, naturally) holds hands.  Cue the pony cameos.  The friendship of the student body enables the portal to open.  Goodbyes all around.  Sunset is taken back, where Celestia is about to punish her.  Twilight steps in and asks Celestia to go easy on her.  The queen agrees, and thus tells Twilight to give a just punishment.  Twilight exiles Sunset Shimmer to Ponyville, where she must learn the magic of friendship for herself.  Thus, Sunset becomes a regular, but not altogether trusted, member of society.  Twilight bumps into pony Flash Sentry, and giggles ensue.

The end.  Do you like it?  It's a plot, at least.  Of course a lot of gags and cameos need to be put in, but it's a backbone and far better than what it was before.  I'm a little surprised I used up my time to write something about My Little Pony, but when a movie this bad comes out with such positive response, I can't sit back and do nothing.  The world needs nitpickery!  Well, not technically, but I've got to have some purpose in life.

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