Friday, November 11, 2016

My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Legend of Everfree

More than a month has gone by since its debut on Netflix (except for a week early Brazillian airing for... some reason), but at long last, I can now share my full opinion on the latest installment to the Equestria Girls spinoff, Legend of Everfree! I'm not gonna lie; this is gonna be one of my most interesting reviews to date...

It's fair to say that last year's entry, Friendship Games, was an underwhelming disappointment. That film had promise considering that two schools would be competing in the games, but instead, they were barely touched upon and focused way too much on Sci-Twi instead, and the other new characters (Principal Cinch, the Shadowbolts) had little to no development throughout. But now, we've reached Legend of Everfree, and would it make up for last year's disappointment?

If you want a short, blunt answer, absolutely not. I've seen it once, and I wish I hadn't. Legend of Everfree is absolutely stupid, even for a kid's movie! But where do I start with the problems?

First off, the film's "story" is terrible. It's a blatant rehashing of Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep. I'm not even kidding; the film even starts similarly to said episode with Sci-Twi having a nightmare, and she also avoids talking to other people (possibly except for Sunset) about her problems. Not only that, Sci-Twi's story arc very much copies from Rainbow Rocks point for point - why do we need like a hundred Rainbow Rocks-type stories in MLP? It's getting tired now! Unless they were trying to make Sci-Twi's story arc a half-baked two-parter...?

Actually, the whole movie is nothing short of being predictably cliched. If you've seen the first three beforehand, you'll understand what I mean; Gloriosa Daisy's Gaea Everfree form is basically a mashup of Demon Sunset and Midnight Sparkle from the first and third movies, and she even goes through a rushed redemption! On top of that, Gloriosa is just outright annoying, and she's a lame excuse for a villain - I mean, keeping students trapped just to keep camp going forever is perhaps the stupidest motivation any MLP villain has ever had! Heck, Starlight Glimmer had more merit to her motivations when she was a baddie!

Speaking of the first three, why do we need constant reminders as to what happened? We've seen what happens, so there's no point in making these references repeatedly. Unless you haven't seen the first film beforehand... well, I feel sorry for you, really.

And that brings me onto Sci-Twi (yes, I'm gonna refer to her as such just to avoid confusion with Princess Twilight). I didn't like how she was portrayed in Friendship Games (and they needed a Twilight for EG, because why not), but here? She was nothing short of a whiny, little crybaby! She's basically Starlight with Twilight's body (not that there's any difference between them, but that's beside the point), except Starlight isn't this pathetic! All Sci-Twi does is constantly mope that magic is bad or some crap, and again, her role is basically Luna's from the aforementioned Magic Sheep. Okay, so she does actually come out of her shell a bit, but sadly, it was too little too late to redeem her.

One of my regular Fandom Reaction contributors - Mattstonge44 - had his own issues concerning Sci-Twi's portrayal when it came to overshadowing everyone, even Sunset. Seeing the film for myself, I can see his point. I mean, Sunset has achieved far more than Sci-Twi has, but because all Sci-Twi did was mope, she's somehow rewarded with alicorn-like powers?! What kind of moral is that for children? It's like the "moral" in The Other Side of the Mountain where Thomas complains and moans until his wish comes true, which, frankly, is stupid, but I digress.

I find that absolutely heartbreaking; Twilight was my favorite when I first watched the show, but now? She's been treated like crap throughout 2016 and she's slipped down my favorites to the point she probably wouldn't even breach the Top 10. It's just... sad. Please; bring back the Twilight I loved - confident, selfless, brave. That wasn't what I saw in the film. The Twilight I saw was cowardly, selfish, and mopey. I didn't even see the Human Five either; they're one-dimensional and barely added anything to the film. Why must the writers constantly flanderize them to the point they're annoying?

Oh, and speaking of annoying... you're off the hook, Starlight Glimmer! Because Timber Spruce is now officially the worst character in all of MLP in general! He's not the type of character you love to hate like Quibble Pants, nor is he a comedic character like Discord. No, Timber Spruce is the type of guy who you want to whack in the face with a sledgehammer! He's arrogant, obnoxious, and just outright despicable in general! There's nothing to like about him (even when he confronts Gloriosa), and every time he opens his mouth, I want to put my fist in it. (I'm sure Brian Doe is a nice guy, but after ten minutes of listening to the jerk he voices, I've wanted to sew his lips shut.)

Not only that, his character arc leads to nothing; he wants to get away from Camp Everfree, which, to be honest, is somewhat relatable, but when the camp is saved, he very much chooses to stay there because... well, I don't know! All it does is render his role pointless (not that he had a purpose to start with), and he constantly hits on Sci-Twi because, again, I don't know, it was never made clear. It just leads to a stupid romance sub-plot that will go nowhere and he'll never be seen again after that film. Oh, and his near kiss with Sci-Twi is cringe-worthy.

There's a moment where Flash sees Sci-Twi with Timber... and I will say it right now; the development they gave Flash is forced and contrived on every level, and that scene exists purely to give him that development, regardless to any unfortunate implications this could lead to! Not helping is that it's also a half-arsed way to give "development" to Flash and Sunset's dynamic. Too little, too late - we're four films in! If they wanted to develop their relationship this far into the series, either it spawned out of a pointless throwaway in the first film, or the writers suck at developing subplots.

Yeah, after watching that film, I still won't ship FlashShimmer as a pairing, even if I was never a TwiSentry fan. The dynamic portrayed on film is simply terrible (and I've seen fanfiction that handle it better!) - I mean, Sunset tells him to get over his crush on Princess Twilight, and Flash... immediately does so. I've said it before, but that is not how this works! It takes time to get over a loss, and more than a conversation you could easily fix! That brings forth another unfortunate implication; does Princess Twilight still care for Flash, even after he upset her, despite it not being his fault? Oh, and Sunset very much leaves Flash to follow Timber Spruce, and her interactions with Flash are never brought up again, rendering any development he got pointless. Were they saying (unintentionally, I admit) that Sunset doesn't care for Flash, a person she slighted more than Sci-Twi, who she's just starting to know? All Sunset did to Sci-Twi was yell at her when she almost endangered the Games! Meanwhile, Sunset used Flash to gain popularity, and it got a very unsatisfying closure to the point she may be hurting him again without knowing it. In fact, I feel more sorry for Flash than I feel for Sci-Twi!

However, there's a line of dialogue Flash says that really frustrates me; he tells Sunset he knows when something's bothering her, and that leads to another problem. Before Legend of Everfree, he has never directly interacted with Sunset. Why does he choose now, of all times, just to rekindle with her? If we had a moment of them in the end credits for Rainbow Rocks, or a scene together in Friendship Games, I'd be more accepting. But instead, again, it comes off as a throwaway line in the first film. Pro tip the next time you write a 70-minute EG film - use that time to develop character dynamics. (And not just the Human Five, please!) If you want to see a dynamic similar to Flash and Sunset's, try Twilight and Moon Dancer's from Amending Fences; the story flows more naturally, the characters are made relatable, and it felt like an effective use of fan-service. If Legend of Everfree was their way of appealing to the FlashShimmer fans, they crashed and burned.

Also, can we put Flash in roles that don't involve romance in any way? A Banner Day was one of the more unique shorts and it showed what the writers could do with him as an independent character, and he interacted with two background humans! Sure, it might be seen as stereotypical and I wouldn't blame you for thinking that, but still, I thought it was interesting, and I'd take that over yaks being bullies any day of the week.

Back to Legend of Everfree, and further expanding upon Sci-Twi and Timber's so-called relationship, isn't that against regulations to date students? I don't care for how old Timber is, but since he is an employee at Camp Everfree, his "romance" with Sci-Twi is nothing short of creepy, and they constantly shove it down your throats! Say what you want about Flash's moments with Princess Twilight, but at least they were trying to be succinct without making it the main focus - oh, and Flash never comes off as self-absorbed, that's also somewhat important. On top of that, Sci-Twi is potentially in danger of a pedophile, and Sunset just seems to go with it and, again, doesn't seem to care for Flash, which is a red flag for her character development. It's a shame as the rest of her role, actually, is pretty good, but then again, she's always a highlight in anything Equestria Girls, so...

Also, Filthy Rich appeared for about a minute or two overall, and contributed nothing to the story. Moving on.

The fight with Gloriosa Daisy is, as I mentioned above, predictable. Granted, it was nice to give it a longer run time, but as for how it ends? How could Sci-Twi stop Gloriosa with one attack, and yet five girls threw more punches (both literal and metaphorical) and the villain didn't even flinch? Oh, and why is the villain female, again? We've had ten female antagonists (yes, including Sunset) within the past three films! Again, it's all getting tired; can we stop using those tropes?! (We even avoided villain redemption in Rainbow Rocks, for goodness' sake!) It also feels like that was done to make Sci-Twi good, despite that she constantly whined and moped beforehand! Again, people (yes, even myself) complain about Starlight's story arc...

But you where the film really falls apart? Not the cliched plot (although it is a contributing factor), not Flash and Sunset's poorly written dynamic, and it's not even the stupid romance! No, the film falls apart, because when the Human Five suggest a fundraiser to save Camp Everfree - like, ten minutes before the film ends - Gloriosa agrees to the idea, and hold it in the Crystal Cave... because that's where you hold galas...

Okay, I just have to ask; if Gloriosa was this desperate to save her family's camp, why did she not think about holding a fundraiser in the first place?! All this does is imply that Camp Everfree is run by a duo of incompetent siblings who can't slice bread to save their lives (not that one of them was likable to start with, but still), and it renders the entire film pointless in the long run! So yeah, everything building up to the climax is pointless, and if you reduced it to 44 minutes, it would still feel like pointless, cliched filler. The fact that they have a post-credits scene, further dragging the movie longer than it needed to, basically tells you "this was pointless; thanks for wasting 73 minutes of your life."

In fact, I've got a theory about this film; Friendship Games intended to give Sunset a subplot where she feels homesick for Equestria, but in the end, she decides to stay in the human world, and Sci-Twi goes back to Crystal Prep. In the final cut? Sunset's just... there, and Sci-Twi transfers to Canterlot High. Further, Legend of Everfree was produced whilst production was winding down on Friendship Games, and it was finished in August, less than two months before its Netflix debut. So, bottom line, Legend of Everfree was a last minute project because Hasbro and/or DHX forced Josh Haber to make changes to Friendship Games, and it came off as a film that even he doesn't like (and I don't blame him, to be honest). However, if he didn't like the final cut, why didn't he try making the end result cohesive? It's not like he was forced to make a bad film!

Would Legend of Everfree have fared any better if Friendship Games was released the way it was intended? Maybe, but sadly, we may never know because it feels like Hasbro and/or DHX would rather screw with fans rather than give them what they want. In fact, I wouldn't be shocked if DHX was somehow responsible for MLP's decline in quality...

As for the songs? I'm not gonna bother discussing them since they're just straight up generic and don't feel fresh at all. The only one that might be worth mentioning is "Embrace the Magic", and for Sunset's second solo number, it's actually pretty nice, but it does feel somewhat preachy at points (actually, I could say the same for every song in the film). That said, I still think "My Past is Not Today" is the best song in MLP, hooves down.

Final Thoughts
Sometimes in the film industry, a crisis may lead to great art. Inside Out managed to salvage Pixar's reputation after a slump during 2011-2013, and Blue Mountain Mystery felt like a step in the right direction for Thomas and Friends after seven years' worth of bad writing. But as for My Little Pony? Well, after the lackluster performance of season six, they dug themselves into a deeper hole with Legend of Everfree, and the film ranges from cringe-worthy to straight up appalling.

With a story so cliched and predictable, unsatisfying character dynamics and unfortunate implications abound, it's very much the worst movie I've ever had the misfortune of sitting through, and will ever watch (yeah, don't tell me I haven't heard of the likes of Battlefield Earth or Plan 9 from Outer Space; I'm not gonna bother with them as it's just not worth it).

Yeah, the animation looks great, and other technicals like voice acting and music are also spot on, but I don't care for that, as they're pretty much standard for anything MLP, not a freak accident. I look for good storytelling, something Joanna and Kristine somehow managed to forget for this film. And considering they also wrote Gauntlet of Fire and Top Bolt this year, this is a huge disappointment coming from them. They can write better than that.

I would've made suggestions on how to fix the movie, but I won't bother. Instead, I suggest watching Rainbow Rocks as the pacing is stronger, Sunset's redemption feels more natural, and the songs (well, most of them) are actually really good. Legend of Everfree is atrocious on every level and it was an absolute chore to sit through.

If it isn't Sci-Twi being a whiny crybaby, it's Flash and Sunset getting two scenes together for the sake of fanservice. If it's not that, it's Gloriosa Daisy being an incompetent camp counselor with terrible motivations. If it's not Gloriosa, it's Timber Spruce. If it isn't either of them, it's the plot being pointless, stupid, boring, and predictable. If it isn't that, it's the trope of bad guy redemption that they insist on pushing out, and has been overused since Crusaders of the Lost Mark!

Bottom line, Legend of Everfree is the worst movie ever made. I hope it rots.

Rating: -10 out of 10

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