OK, well, I saw it... finally. Just last night, on YouTube. Um, spoilers ahead, but I think that's irrelevant at this point. So, before I get into the review proper... let's go back to late winter/early spring, when Season 3 ended and we first heard about... this, in order to fully understand how all of this happened.
So just as Season 3 was ending (I mean, just days before "Magical Mystery Cure" aired), certain art started circulating the Internet. Humanized art of the Mane 6. This would generally be unremarkable, especially seeing as the art was generally considered subpar at best, except for one thing; it was heavily rumored that this was concept art for a humanized pony project. So what did the fans do? WE FREAKED!!! And, as it turns out, for good reason. The coming months we were served one of the most atrocious marketing campaigns I've ever seen. For most of it, all we had was poor concept art; next, we got even worse concept art. It was only until about a month before the movie released that we were FINALLY given a 1 minute trailer. Said trailer split the fans a lot more. Some remained convinced it wouldn't be good, others thought it would be awful, many remained indifferent, but about, I want to say, two-thirds of the fans at that point became optimistic that EQG would actually turn out decently. "Trust the writers" became the most common-heard phrase once again, and that was reinforced by the second trailer's release. Myself? I remained skeptical throughout this whole thing, and somewhat cynical. But, at the same time, I was not willing to pass final judgment until it came out.
So, marketing covered, let's look at my theory on how this thing got made, I mean, what the process exactly was. Here's what I think happened; going back to Season 3, we know that DHX partially designed it the way it did because they were uncertain as to whether or not they'd be renewed for a fourth season. "Magical Mystery Cure" is at its heart supposed to work as a series finale, if it came down to that. We know from what writers like Meghan McCarthy have said that DHX did not learn they'd been renewed for a fourth season until very shortly before the season finale of Season 3. My theory is that it was JUST around when they learned they'd be renewed that DHX was simultaneously handed Equestria Girls by the suits at Hasbro, hence the reason it took so long to get a trailer out. So, let's take the circumstances under which they were given Equestria Girls all into account: (1) they were given at best about a 4-5 month time span to develop this movie, (2) this was a HORRIBLE concept to begin with, in my opinion, and even if you don't think it was a bad premise, it certainly could not have been one that DHX was planning on working on anytime soon, (3) the sole purpose that Hasbro had for bringing this concept to the big screen was painfully obviously for marketing reasons, to open up a whole new market of toys (although I still can't imagine who they think is going to buy those dolls considering they look quite hideous), (4) DHX had to develop something they probably didn't even want to work on while simultaneously beginning development of Season 4, something I'm sure they were far more motivated to delve into. Basically, what I'm getting at is, looking at all of these theoretical factors, from the start EQG was being developed under the worst circumstances possible. The only upside it had going for it was that it had a very good studio and voice actresses working on it, but that's it.
So then, it got released... and I watched it... and what did I think?
Well... it was far more entertaining and likable than it had any right to be. So, let's get the pros out of the way first.
The voice acting was great as usual. The best I've ever heard from the girls? Probably not. But they just own these roles at this point, they slip into them SO naturally that they don't even really have to try, and you could tell they were trying their darnedest!!! All of them were in character as far as tone and expressions go, and some really shone. Highlights for me include Twilight (which is good, considering so much focus was put on her), Spike (who probably had his best role since "The Crystal Empire"), Principal Celestia (who struck a nice balance between similar and different enough from her Equestrian counterpart), and... PINKIE PIE. Oh my gosh, did I love Pinkie Pie!!! Pinkie Pie... just never stop being you! She was hands down the best human counterpart of all of the HuMane Six, she was completely random and unpredictable, but at the same time actually felt like a character, something I could not say for the rest of the HuMane Six.
Next, animation. The pony animation was hands down the most gorgeous in the movie, DHX has simply mastered it at this point. As for the human world, the environment was colorful enough, I certainly liked that. The human models could've been worse, and for what they were, they weren't terrible, but ultimately I didn't like them that much. Will talk more about them later.
Music. I despise teen pop, but Daniel Ingram and William Anderson somehow managed to pull off a strange hybrid of the show's usual musical feel with a more urban, poppy feel that, musically at least, was very enjoyable. The "Equestria Girls" song was insanely catchy and hands down the best song of the movie, but all of them sounded pleasant enough. That said, I will have more to say about the music later.
Finally, the plot. Well... no, not much good to say about the plot. I will say that, if this were a longer feature with less subplots, or even just the same length and less subplots as it was, it could've been executed FAR better. But, it's time for the cons.
Well, might as well talk about the big one first. The plot. Oh me, oh my, this story was a mess. The overall story was straightforward enough. Twilight's crown gets stolen, she needs to get it back for the sake of both Equestria and the human world. But the execution was... shoddy at best. My favorite part (besides anything in Equestria of course) was honestly when Twilight first showed up, because not too much was happening, and so the movie felt like it had a nice pace going. She and Spike had some fun interactions, and some of the jokes during that section really worked. In fact, the movie frequently made me laugh plenty, and kept me plenty entertained.
The problems came in wrapping it all up, for two big reasons: (1) pacing, and (2) subplots. Oh my gosh, were there A LOT of subplots!!! But first, the pacing. In hindsight, for a 70 minute feature with as many subplots as this, that aforementioned section when Twilight first shows up should've been much shorter, or at least featured the rest of the HuMane Six much more. The second half was a complete and utter mess! Events building up to the fall formal and showing Twilight getting to know and befriend the HuMane Six happened WAYYYYYY too quickly, and the pacing of the overall story was constantly thrown off by the subplots, some of which were completely unnecessary. So yeah, no point in avoiding it, let's talk about those subplots. All told, I want to say there were about... seven subplots total? Some of them got far too little attention, and so didn't really feel like they even got resolved, like the cliques at the high school or Sunsent Shimmer's motivations. Others got FAR MORE attention than they should have even though they were simultaneously really short, and so felt both completely unnecessary and pointless and also blown out of proportion (i.e. Flash Sentry, actually, buck that, I'm calling him Brad Pony subplot and the STUPID AS BUCK Vice Principal Luna subplot which was a conflict for about 30 seconds, not even joking!). What we got as a result was this: lots of plot holes, poor pacing, unnecessary plot points, and a BUTT TON OF PLOT CONTRIVANCES!!! So that leads me to my next con: the characters.
Dark Qiviut put this really well in his excellent review of EQG when he said that just because the girls were in character DOES NOT mean that the HuMane Six were 3-dimensional characters. The only ones who really felt like that for me were (1) Twilight and Spike (but that's only because I knew they were the established Equestrian characters), and (2) Pinkie Pie, who as I said earlier they wrote fantastically!!! The rest, if it weren't for the fact that they were technically NOT the Mane Six, would've felt soooooo OOC. At the best of times, they did things that we'd expect of their Equestrian counterparts, but the reasoning/personal motivations behind such behavior remained elusive. At their worst, they were stereotypes of their Equestrian counterparts (again, like DQ said, and please don't hate me for this DF, RD said awesome at least one too many times) and really behaved, for lack of a better word, just really, really DUMB. There was absolutely no good reason that they had fallen for Sunset's messing with their friendship, and they seriously never thought of asking their friends of many years about one-time alleged betrayals?!?! THAT'S WHAT FRIENDS DO!! No wait, scratch that, THAT'S JUST WHAT ANYONE WITH HALF-A-BRAIN DOES!!!!!!! It was so contrived and so unbelievable that it just felt like they were wasting our time with creating any conflict between this group in the first place. Instead, they should have introduced them far earlier on and had them help Twilight adjust, instead of force Twilight to bring them back together as friends in order to give them a reason to befriend her, because it all just felt so forced and contrived!!! Applejack, Fluttershy, and Rarity were pretty much all in character, aside from being dumb there just wasn't anything to their characters, but Rainbow Dash? Rainbow Dash was... *braces for RD fan hate* KIND OF A DOUCHE! She didn't show up that much, she felt like more of a stereotype of her character than any of the other HuMane Six, and that soccer subplot was COMPLETELY IDIOTIC AND DOUCHEY!!!!!!! Even though she didn't know that Twilight wasn't used to walking on two legs, she could easily infer that she wouldn't be any good at soccer. Twilight had already helped bring her and AJ back together as friends, so really, it's BS what she said about Twilight having to prove she was worth befriending/helping out. Plus, she didn't even explain that until AFTER she'd schooled Twilight! So it really came across the whole time (which was thankfully only about two minutes) as just a really mean-spirited, petty, and utterly useless and unnecessary bit of ego stroking that's arrogant and bombastic even by RD's standards!!!
Next, supporting/background characters from the show. Snips and Snails were HORRIBLY written and portrayed. I honestly think the only reason they were even used here was because DHX loves the two voice actors who voice them, and I don't blame them for that, I like those voice actors as well and I think those two characters can be really funny. These guys... they weren't funny. They were bullies and evil and very OOC. It just wasn't the two dimwitted colt residents of Ponyville that I love and I have no idea why they went with that portrayal beyond "oh, Sunset needs some cronies!". Principal Celestia as I said earlier was pretty bearable, but Vice Principal Luna? OH MY GOSH, SHE WAS A MORON!!!!!!! As I mentioned earlier, her 30 second subplot, tied with the soccer subplot, was probably the most useless subplot of the entire movie!!! She seriously thought that Twilight trashed the gym after being given pictures of a paper cutout of Twilight glued onto another picture??????????
Seriously, A FIVE YEAR OLD COULD FIGURE THAT OUT!!!!!!! And it doesn't matter anyway, because the "subplot" gets resolved about 10 seconds later, not even joking. It was completely and utterly pointless, and it made human Luna look like an idiot!!! As for any other background ponies that showed up, their cameos were cute enough. I spotted Cloud Kicker, Photo Finish, Vinyl, Derpy (which was AMAZING!!!!!!!!! ), the CMC, Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon, Twist, maybe Pipsqueak, Big Mac, Granny Smith, and Trixie, and all of their appearances were harmless enough. Some of them, like Derpy, Trixie, and the CMC were absolutely hilarious, and even though not all of them made sense, like taking Vinyl's glasses off in the EQG song for no apparent reason other than, "Hey bronies, look, her eyes!!!", they were harmless and didn't feel too much like pandering. And yeah, if I'm gonna be honest, that Trixie cameo may have been so dumb, but it was SO AMAZING!!!!!!!!
Finally, the new characters.
*sigh* The new characters... where do I begin? Guess we'll start with Sunset.
Sunset Shimmer was... absolutely wasted. Hands down, she's the worst villain the show's had yet. Every other villain thus far has had (1) clear motivations and (2) come across as a real and dangerous threat. Sunset had neither. Her motivations were not revealed until the VERY end of the movie, and since her background was very poorly explained as well, we just got a villain who I had no bucking idea why she was doing ANY of what she was doing other than to be a jerk, which DOES NOT make for a threatening villain. All we got was a bully, and a really cliche bully at that. On top of that, she has one of the worst plans I've ever heard of!!! She basically planned on taking over Equestria with, if I'm being really generous, 50-100 zombified minions, who wouldn't have even been that much of a threat even if they were turned into hellspawn like Snips and Snails. Here's exactly what she said:
"I want Equestria! And with my own little teenage army behind me, I'm going to get it!!!"
"My own little teenage army..."
That's the stupidest, most unthreatening line and plan I've EVER heard!!!!!!!!!! Sombra was more threatening with his crystal fetish!!!!!! And it's such a shame, because I absolutely LOVED Sunset's pony design!!! It was very different from what we'd gotten in the past with villains, and she as a whole had a lot of potential to be a good villain. Two students of Celestia face off, that should've been AWESOME!!! Instead, she was LAME!!!!!! Just utterly lame, stupid, and cliche. Her rushed redemption at the end, which made Trixie's look like it was balanced and drawn out, did not help, since it was too fast and poorly explained. Overall, I'm very disappointed in how Sunset turned out.
Next, Brad Pony (no, I refuse to call him Flash Sentry, that's a cool name, something he is not!). I'm not as mad about how he turned out just because I always had low expectations about him, but that doesn't mean I'm happy he exists. He was... worthless. He literally contributed nothing to the plot or helping Twilight out EXCEPT for resolving the aforementioned STUPIDEST SUBPLOT EVER with Vice Principal Luna, which was basically thrown in just to get him 30 seconds more screen time with Twilight. He was cliche, there was no character to him whatsoever, his being Sunset's ex-boyfriend didn't affect the plot in the slightest, and most importantly, the romantic subplot was both unnecessary, poorly developed, and made NO SENSE! He and Twilight probably share at most 5 minutes of screen time together. For only 3 minutes of that screen time do they even engage in conversation, if it can be called that. The rest was blushing, awkwardness, blushing, dancing, more blushing, and more awkwardness. Did I mention the blushing? Yeah, there was no good reason that he and Twilight had any chemistry at all!!! If anything, the fact that he dated Sunset Shimmer raised the uncomfortable possibility that he's just a really shallow guy who dates girls because they're hot, seeing as Sunset had no magical powers without the crown and so I doubt influenced him at all (plus maybe this was just me but I thought that, uh, "flirty" look he kept shooting at Twilight was creepy as heck!!!). Whatever the case, there was just no justification for the romance (especially considering Twilight should not really be finding any humans attractive when she's only in their world for three days and has no prior experience with them and so no real reason to even find any of them attractive by her equine standards) or even his existence, and I pray that DHX doesn't retain him for Season 4. There could be romance in MLP, I've never been opposed to that, but THAT'S not the way it should be pulled off!
Well that wraps up characters, so let's tackle a last few tidbits.
Things about animation I didn't like: the humans. They were pulled off far better than they could've been (especially judging by the early concept art), but still, they felt very mechanical compared to the pony models, and there just wasn't any personality from any of the BG characters like there was with the ponies. They all looked too similar, they all wore the same clothes, had very similar designs, and just didn't really jump off the screen. For what they were, they were fine, but nothing exemplary. Oh yeah, and the useless equine/human transformation at the end was POINTLESS (and also kinda terrifying)!!!!!!!! Nothing, I mean, NOTHING came as a result of the girls getting wings and... pony ears, I think, EXCEPT Rainbow Dash flying with Scoots on her back and THAT... WAS... IT!!!!!!!!!!! That happened for one reason, and one reason only... BECAUSE HASBRO WANTS TO MAKE TOYS!!!! Ughhh... and seriously, those designs when they transformed were kinda terrifying, and NO ONE WAS FREAKING OUT ABOUT THE MAGIC OR THE TRANSFORMATIONS AT ALL!!!!!!!! Really, best line of the movie might've been Spike going, "The talking dog is the weird thing about all this?!?!" just because it was so delightfully meta!
Oh yeah, and boots...
EVERYONE WEARS BOOTS IN THIS MOVIE, EVEN DEMON HELLSPAWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
As for the music, the only thing I didn't like about it was, well, the lyrics. Aside from "Equestria Girls" the other songs had really forgettable and repetitive lyrics, and I could tell that Daniel Ingram wasn't giving his all in that department (which further reinforces my theory that he and the rest of DHX were not looking forward to doing this and just trying to get it over with, or just short on time). Besides that, no other real complaints; like I said earlier, I liked the sound of the music, it's just the lyrics usually didn't work (but seriously, "Equestria Girls" is catchy as heck!!!).
So time for final thoughts. For many, this was a project that had a lot of potential from the beginning. Me, I'm more of a realist/cynic; I was always skeptical because from the start the circumstances seemed to be really bad. Little time to develop this, a bad concept to begin with, really cliched, and... it basically turned out like I thought it would. Is it fandom ending or going to destroy MLP, of course not, it's just a little bump in the road is all. To its credit, DHX and the VAs made it FAR more entertaining and likable than I thought it would be. I was plenty engaged, laughed plenty, and just loved, loved, LOVED the voice work!!! BUT overall, the story and characters were poorly handled and executed, the animation and music in some respects were subpar compared to their MLP counterparts, and ultimately this was just a bad movie, not even average, but pretty bad objectively. That doesn't mean I didn't like things about it, because I did, and that's to DHX's credit, but there's no denying there was A LOT of bad in this thing, and that's all on Hasbro. I think the biggest thing we can all take away from this is that, no matter how good the studio and the team, even the best of teams cannot overcome the worst of circumstances if they're dealt a very, very bad hand, and that's what I think happened here. So no, I'm not worried about the quality of Season 4 as a result of this. I'm quite optimistic about Season 4 and excited for it, and if anything I think DHX is excited to get back to focusing solely on ponies as well. Plus, they have already been working on it and will overall have at least twice as much time to develop it as they did EQG, so really, I think we've got a great season ahead of us. So, with nothing further to say, those are my thoughts on EQG.
Final Score: 5/10