Thursday, November 19, 2020

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls - Legend of Everfree

Note: This review contains spoilers for My Little Pony: Equestria Girls - Legend of Everfree.

After having watched and reviewed the first three My Little Pony: Equestria Girls spin-off movies, we decided to watch the fourth and final movie, Legend of Everfree, in order to have a full opinion on all four of them. However, when trying to watch the movie, we saw no convenient way to legally stream it, mainly since we aren’t Netflix subscribers and didn’t want to waste the free trial just to watch one movie. This necessitated us to instead take advantage of our Amazon Prime membership and purchase a physical copy of the movie, opting for the DVD version in order to spend as little money on the endeavor as possible. All that said, Legend of Everfree did present some good ideas with its story and characters, however it wasn’t entirely executed as well as it could have been.

While struggling to deal with what happened at the Friendship Games, Twilight Sparkle (Tara Strong) goes on a class trip to Camp Everfree, which had been funded by efforts from the student body. On arrival, the class is introduced to brother-sister counselors Gloriosa Daisy (Enid-Raye Adams) and Timber Spruce (Brian Doe), the former of which also runs the camp and the latter quickly becoming smitten with Twilight. Things quickly become evident to Sunset Shimmer (Rebecca Shoichet), however, that something isn’t right about the camp.

As previously stated, the movie has some interesting ideas, though the biggest flaw is that it has too many ideas to cram into 74 minutes. Of the plot points it executes properly, the human version of Twilight Sparkle gets a good amount of character development as she struggles to accept her magical powers, with the human versions of the other main characters gaining new powers of their own during the second act and learning to control them. Another subplot that gets handled decently is the romance angle between Twilight Sparkle and Timber Spruce. During this, Flash Sentry gets some much-needed character development of his own where Sunset Shimmer helps him get over the fact he might never see the Equestrian Twilight again; given the two were established as having been an item prior to the original Equestria Girls, it was nice to see the two actually interact with each other and the dialogue between them felt pretty natural, hinting they might at some point get back together again.

Other subplots show promise, only for them to fall flat, even affecting the pacing of the story. One subplot introduced within the first 10 minutes is the character of Filthy Rich (Brian Drummond), who gets very little screentime and whose plotline of trying to buy out the camp ends very predictably and within the span of a single musical montage. There’s also the subplot of Gloriosa trying to keep the camp running while Timber does his best to cover her odd behavior, during which it’s implied Gloriosa might have a darker side. These two storylines are meant to work together in theory, however in practice I couldn’t help but think of ways they could’ve been reworked into a stronger narrative.

Filthy Rich (Brian Drummond) (right) has very little screen time.

To elaborate, the Filthy Rich plot thread, as described above, has so little impact on the overall narrative that you could easily excise it and not really miss anything. As for how to improve it from there, there’s a ghost story Timber tells about a spirit named Gaea Everfree, who supposedly guards the forest and only let the camp exist on a warning after Timber and Gloriosa’s family pleaded with the spirit, which provides a mystery element to strange events at the camp. The build-up surrounding this turns out to be a hoax, with Gaea Everfree existing as a transformation for Gloriosa that, despite setting up what should be a genuinely terrifying villain, ends up defeated in an anti-climactic way.

If Gaea Everfree turned out to be real, an idea entertained by the protagonists, then the story might’ve been a bit stronger, even adding a bit more suspense to the final battle at the end rather than recycling the ending of the first Equestria Girls movie. Building off this idea, Gloriosa’s odd behavior could’ve been explained if it turned out Gaea Everfree had been possessing her the whole time.

One highlight is the animation, which is improved over the previous three movies. The characters in particular are animated in a fluid manner that makes it look less obviously like Adobe Flash. Outside of that, the animation is general a lot more ambitious, with some surprisingly fluid vine and water ripple animations. I will say also that many of the costume changes that the main characters go through were very obviously designed to sell toys; while some design choices were clever, I couldn’t quite figure out whether the costumes they don during the final battle edged into simply being tacky/overdesigned purely from a design standpoint.

I'm honestly not sure what to make of these costumes.
From left: Rarity (Tabitha St. Germain), Fluttershy (Andrea Libman),
Applejack (Ashleigh Ball), Twilight Sparkle (Tara Strong),
Rainbow Dash (Ashleigh Ball), Pinkie Pie (Andrea Libman),
Sunset Shimmer (Rebecca Shoichet)

Another positive is the voice acting (which includes a mini Death Note reunion), with returning voice actors continuing to deliver good performances for returning characters. In particular, since Flash Sentry gets more screen time, Vincent Tong has more of an opportunity to deliver a stronger performance, especially during his scene with Sunset Shimmer. Given their significant amount of screen presence, Enid-Raye Adams and Brian Doe give good performances as their respective characters Gloriosa Daisy and Timber Spruce, while Filthy Rich’s general lack of screen time doesn’t allow Brian Drummond much room to display his vocal talents. In a notable bit of obvious fanservice, My Little Pony 2012 Special Edition Pony, credited as “Muffins” after an arbitrary character trait assigned to her by a more overzealous portion of the fanbase, gets a single speaking line by Tabitha St. Germain (Rarity), who had previously voiced her in the Friendship is Magic cartoon for a single scene.

As with Friendship Games, the movie features a more reserved amount of songs compared to Rainbow Rocks, totaling six this time. Much like its predecessors, however, none of the songs actually stuck with me once the movie was finished, in spite of how well-produced they were. One thing I did like, however, was how the opening credits song “The Legend of Everfree” sounded much like a campfire song, fitting in perfectly with the camp setting of the movie.

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Legend of Everfree is generally one of the weaker entries in the Equestria Girls spinoff series. While some of the movie’s ideas are good and are executed well, others aren’t handled as well, affecting the pacing to the point where simply removing at least one of these concurrent plot points would’ve dramatically improved the story, with possibly some minor tweaking. While the animation and voice acting are the highlights of the movie, they are not enough to save the uneven pacing and overcrowded storytelling. That said, existing fans of My Little Pony, particularly Equestria Girls, may get some entertainment value out of it, as this movie’s flaws make it a little difficult to recommend otherwise.

No comments:

Post a Comment