Published on June 28th, 2013 | by Albert2
My Popcorn Is Stale #6: Equestrian Theater Escapades
I normally don’t use this column for pony purposes, but decided since it involved an actual movie theater with an actual audience, whatthehellwhynot? As most of you know, I’m a Brony as well as a movie geek. As with everywhere, there is a local Brony group here in Kansas City that likes to go out on the town every once in a while and have fun. Most of these meetups take the form of going to see a movie. Well, this past Saturday marked a special occasion, because there was an honest-to-god My Little Pony movie playing for that weekend only, and there was no way we were going to miss it.
That movie is Equestria Girls.
I have to preface this with two very big points. One, for the majority of the 72-minute feature My Little Pony film, all the characters are human (with the exception of one, who is a dog). And two, when fans first got wind of this, there was a SHITSTORM.
Think about it: you have a magical world where ponies go on adventures, and then suddenly for no sensical reason, we turn them into teenagers in a high school setting. Who wouldn’t be a little apprehensive? Okay, the reason was to compete with the likes of rival company Mattel’s popular Monster High line of dolls. But still! Why not create a new series based in high school from the onset rather than drag a series with a huge fan base that has nothing to do with high school into it? Well, that’s it, right there. There’s a huge fan base consisting of mostly older viewers, some in high school. So why not go after the guaranteed sell?
BUT for review purposes, I won’t be focusing on the business end of it, because it somehow (like the show, which was initially made to sell toys) manages to transcend the marketing ploy. This film features the talents of the team at DHX Media, who creates the regular pony show, as well as the writing of Friendship is Magic head writer Meghan McCarthy. Since the trailer was first released, and this fact was made known, it put a lot of people’s minds at ease, myself included.
The showing we went to was sold out, and the crowd was amazing. People came from all over, and the audience ranged from little kids to geeky adults with no kids. Even though our group was big, it only made up a fraction of the theater. It was fun to Brony-spot outside before the showing.
Inside there was much laughter, clapping, oooos, ahhhhs, dancing in seats, and a few “What the hell?!”s as the film’s plot unfolded. My favorite audience moment happened toward the end when (*SLIGHT SPOILER*) the villain wields a sledgehammer and for two seconds it looks like she’s about to use it on Spike (*SLIGHT SPOILER OVER*), which caused someone from the back to yell out “JAYSUS!”
I’m not saying it was entirely appropriate for “What the hell?” or “JAYSUS!” to be uttered in an audience comprised of one-third little kids (and I don’t encourage it), but it was funny nonetheless.
Overall, it was probably the most fun I’ve had in a theater for a while. And those kinds of experiences where the audience is totally involved in every step of the movie are exceedingly rare.
The Actual Movie
I know I said I wasn’t going to focus on the business end of it, but I kind of wish Hasbro had just marketed it as The Friendship is Magic Movie (set in an alternate universe) instead of its own separate thing. Because that’s basically what it is; a proper movie based on the show, which is exactly what I wanted. And boy, it didn’t disappoint.
It opens shortly after the close of the third season, wherein Twilight Sparkle, the unicorn main character of the show, has been transformed into an Alicorn Princess (a pony with both wings and horns who possesses incredible magic powers). She is at the Equestrian capitol of Canterlot, fretting over both her new responsibilities and new wings to her Dragon assistant Spike. In the night, her magical crown is stolen, which leads to a chase that ends with the perpetrator going through a mysterious mirror portal.
Celestia (the Equestrian ruler) tells Twilight that she alone must journey to the world through the mirror and retrieve her crown, or else the Elements of Harmony (Okay. I’m not going explain every single thing from the show or we’ll be here forever. Let’s just say they’re important, alright?) will have no power in their world, leading to all sorts of catastrophe.
On the other side, she finds she is a new and unfamiliar being called a human, and the place she appears in front of is Canterlot High School. And so our story begins!
What I Thought
On the whole, the film is low-key, letting the story unfold through character interactions, with the occassional musical numbers, and an action montage. Normally with direct-to-video (which I’m not sure technically applies in this case) feature-length films based on tv shows for kids, there are a bunch of pointless scenes that play out solely to pad time. While sometimes it feels like this might be happening (for example the soccer match between Twilight and Rainbow Dash), it actually serves as a plot point further on. Not to say those scenes aren’t fun.
In fact I cannot think of a single scene that could be removed and not affect something else that happens. The human version of each character is slowly rolled out, so we can spend a little time with each before the whole gang gets together and acts as a whole. It’s pretty tightly written and well paced, lacking the troubles some of the hour-long episodes suffer at not having enough time for the story.
The comedy is solid. They play with Twilight getting used to the human world in fun ways, without overdoing it.
Most of the jokes are character-based, but are written as such that they’d be funny regardless. The same good, solid laughs present in the show can be found here, much to fan delight. Pinkie Pie keeps her trademark impossible cartoony slapstick and physicality. The first thing her human doppleganger does is take one of the balloons sewn into her skirt and blow it up. Perfect.
The ending was unexpected, and did not disappoint! I will not go into spoilers, but it sorta-kinda fulfilled a hope I had for the movie as a whole.
All in all, it felt like a proper MLP:FiM movie (sort-of sans Pony –they manage to work it in), which is all I really wanted.
There are tons of things dropped in for fans, and it did a good job of standing on its own, working as both a movie and as part of the regular series via a side adventure. I would even venture to say that one who is not familiar with the series would also enjoy it. But of course it’s a much richer experience if you are.
Albert runs an offbeat film podcast with his friend Austin called The Film Room. They are currently discussing GOJIRA.