Review: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks

640px-Group_hug_around_Sunset_Shimmer_EG2It’s been over a year or so since Equestria Girls came out and I wrote my first review of it. And yet here we are yet again with the sequel to the film, Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks. As someone who generally liked the first film, I was rather excited about the prospect of a sequel. Did the film meet my excitement? Find out after the break where I review Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks.

So, I figured the best way to approach this would be in a manner similar to the Equestria Girls review by looking at the Animation/Music, Plotline, and Characters separately. Considering how important music is to the story, that seems a good place to start.

Music

So, in my Equestria Girls review I stated that the music was rather unremarkable. Since that time, however, I’ve actually grown to appreciate the songs to some degree; at the very least, I enjoy the songs “Strange New World” and the “Cafeteria Song.”

Comparatively, Rainbow Rocks’s soundtrack is a great improvement, even if pretty much all the songs were released before the movie hit. Our new villains the Dazzling have a wonderful set of villain songs, with “Let’s Have a Battle” being particularly enjoyable to me as it’s sort of a “Discord: The Musical” vibe to it in its lyrics subverting the general themes of the series. The opening and ending songs I found particularly enjoyable, and the music/video segment with the climax song “Welcome to the Show” were just all around amazing. I’ll talk about that later though as it’s awesomeness is very tied into the plot. About the only song I can say I wasn’t particularly impressed with was “Shake Your Tail”, which to me seemed to be the most generic and repetitive of the songs.

One thing I did notice, however, was that for the focus on music and the setting of the “Battle of the Bands”, in terms of actually completed songs the movie was more on par with Equestria Girls. Discounting the opening and ending songs, the movie only actually finished “Better than Ever”, “Battle of the Bands”, “Under Our Spell”, “Shake Your Tail”, and “Welcome to the Show.” Several of the other songs, such as the appropriately egoistic “Tricks Up My Sleeve” and “Awesome as I Want to Be” for Trixie and Rainbow Dash require purchase of the movie’s sountrack to hear in full. Considering the quality and length of the music, however, it does feel like there are more songs simply because, well, they’re more worth remembering. Besides, those two songs were interrupted/cut away from for plot reasons, and as enjoyable as Trixie’s singing would be it honestly wasn’t important to the plot.

One more minor point before I move onto the plot since it sort of relates to that discussion: Sunset Shimmer’s singing voice was kind of hard to distinguish from Twilight Sparkle’s. Makes sense because they do in fact share the same voice actress for singing-Rebecca Shoichet-but the difference was a little hard for me to hear. Of course I’m also pretty bad at hearing things like that in the first place so….

Plot

Watching the previews gave me a lot of concern for the plot. The basic premise of it was okay: I could live with “evil singing villains threaten school, Twilight comes to help with the power of ROCK.” No, what worried me about the previews was that Sunset Shimmer, major villain looking to be redeemed, wasn’t in the band and seemed to keep getting sidelined. I was worried that would keep up in the movie, that Sunset would be considered a “friend” but otherwise sidelined in a minorish role.

So I was ecstatic that they not only proceeded to avoid doing so, they actually used that worry as part of the plot itself. I’ll talk more on that in the section about characters, specifically Sunset Shimmer obviously, but in addressing this point they really kept the film intact for me.

What, then, was the question wanting to be addressed by the plot? Well, this movie really has two main plotlines: Twilight’s coming to deal with her new position as princess and the stress of being looked to for all the answers, and Sunset Shimmer’s struggle with her new position and desire to redeem herself. The Dazzlings, of course, simply provides the catalyst for which these two plotlines are thrown into a loop. As the group continues to deteriorate, Twilight finds her confidence slipping further and further while Sunset tries to be supportive but generally remains on the edge of the group feeling it’s not her place to intervene.

This parallel between Twilight and Sunset serves as probably my favorite parts of the movie, with the scene of them up at night talking and Sunset’s scenes in the climax serving as probably the best scenes of the movie for me. These parallels lead to an interesting situation, however, where it isn’t exactly Twilight but Sunset that ends up solving the conflicts preventing the group from defeating the Dazzlings. By finally realizing that even if she isn’t an expert in friendship like Twilight or the others she can still speak up when things are obviously wrong, Sunset finally begins to move on from the self-doubt she has about herself. In doing so she also reassures Twilight that no one ever has all the answers and that she can rely on her friends to help her find them. Her transition is finally cemented by her finally joining in the band to sing the song that defeats the Dazzlings.
This all also syncs up with the original Equestria Girls, which also focused on Twilight’s learning to move on from student of friendship to a teacher of one. There she simply learned that despite the sudden changes in her life she could learn to adapt and grow while still being herself. Here she is reinforced with the message that even as the leader that everyone looks up to, she shouldn’t put the entire burden on herself but that her friends are there to help.

Still, despite Twilight’s role as well as being put up front in the merchandise, I feel as if the core of this movie wasn’t Twilight but Sunset Shimmer’s development of a character. And considering in my Equestria Girls review I said I craved more Sunset Shimmer development, I have to say I was greatly impressed by this.

Characters
I think by now I talked enough on Sunset and Twilight, so I’m gonna focus on our villains, the Main 6, and the side characters that were brought to the forefront. Oh, and I guess Flash….I’ll start with him.

Flash Sentry:
He existed.

…yeah, more explanation probably needed. I didn’t exactly have an issue with Flash in the last movie simply because his presence was minimal and his personality blander than tapioca pudding. Considering how some of the fandom reacted, that opinion was pretty tame. In this movie his presence is even more minimal, basically relegated to bump and blush with Twilight-which is probably about the only aspect of Twilight I didn’t like in this movie-and being a jerk under the Dazzlings’ spell. This almost makes it feel like the movie put him in enough to deal with continuity but no more than that, with an added bonus of being able to hate him if you want to. Unfortunately I count mind control/spells/etc. as an acceptable excuse for freeing you from responsibility for your actions so that satisfaction is out the window.

So in short, my opinion is as I said: he existed.

The Dazzlings:

So, the Dazzlings reveal that Sunset Shimmer is not the first Equestrian to go through the mirror. I have to admit that now that I think about it the timing for them seems off: Star Swirl was at minimum a thousand years ago right? So either the Dazzlings are eternally teenagers-and if so I feel sorry for them and understand them being so annoyed at the world-or some wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff happens with the mirror. The thing is the movie does bring this point up but Twilight just simply admits “I don’t know”….well, at least it’s honest. Anyone with more knowledge about Sirens please feel free to speculate on this.

Anyway, as villains, the Dazzlings are pretty interesting. As I joked earlier, their villain songs are like “Discord: The Musical”, using their abilities to cause disharmony and trouble in order to absorb the negative energy. The personality of the villains is fun, although I have to admit some slight annoyance at how quick parts of the fandom latched onto Sonata’s ditzy personality. In any case, the interaction of the three in their antagonistic relationship makes them a good group foil to the Main 6’s group based on friendship.

Their identity as Sirens is also neat as an expansion of lore, further reinforcing the mythological aspects of the world of Friendship is Magic. The designs for them, both as mermaid/horse/dragon things and as humans, are also pretty good. Adagio in particular can probably give Pinkie Pie a run for poofiest hair. As a leader, Adagio is also pretty good, and she is one of the more clever villains the series has produced. In particular, her manipulations of Trixie show a good insight into how others work, flawed only by an inability to understand friendship, a description apt for a certain draconequus villain as well…

Main 6

Okay, technically this includes Twilight or Sunset, but only going to focus on the rest. Overall, I enjoyed the interactions between the Main 6. If the Dazzlings were “Discord: The Musical”, then the interactions presented here were pretty much a harkening back to the Mane 6 during “Return of Harmony.” The bickering between them serving as the main block to them succeeding is quite familiar in this sense, with Sunset serving as the one who brings them back together.

Where the interesting parts come in, then, are the differences in how things fall apart. It was of no surprise to me that Rainbow Dash’s flaw was her ego and desire for coolness causing her to think of the band as “her” band and trying to aggrandize herself. Applejack’s frustration comes from dealing with Rainbow Dash and snapping at Rarity for her constant obsession with costumes. Rarity, of course, doing so because she feels it’s the biggest creative contribution to the group. Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy have the most passive issues, with Pinkie Pie simply just upset it’s no longer fun and Fluttershy simply upset that Rainbow Dash doesn’t want to use her songs due to Dash’s ego.

The movie differs, however, in that the deterioration of the group isn’t brought on by the Dazzlings. In fact, they emphasize that the group is immune to the spell until after everything has come to a head. Instead, the group falls apart on its own, with the small issues bubbling up until they explode. This makes Sunset’s intervention more meaningful, I think, because she isn’t fixing a mind control spell but an actual broken relationship.

Even before that point, however, their interactions were fun to watch, and the sleepover scenes showing them just hanging out and having fun was absolutely adorable. I do have to agree with Sunset though; just how much whip cream does Pinkie Pie need?

Background Characters

Can I say I love the usage of Trixie in this movie and not appear biased? Nah, I can’t: I love Trixie, and I love that they used her as much as they did. In terms of a character to serve as a sort of “minion” for the Dazzlings, she worked particularly well. Sure, she wasn’t taking orders from them, but she fell hook line and sinker for their manipulations as her-admittedly enhanced by the Siren’s spell-because of her desire to be “Great and Powerful.” Her song is also pretty fun, and I’m am so glad Snip and Snails weren’t her backup singers….not exactly glad they sung though (oh Snips and Snails…).

I wasn’t as excited about the usage of Vinyl though because she does just kind of appear out of nowhere and resolves two plot points. The first one about her never taking off her headphones and that’s why she’s immune to their spell? Okay, that’s cool, and does get the door open. The wub car? Ehhhhh….yeah, I think a little more buildup for her role could have been used to not make it seem like a cheap way to get out of the barriers to the plot.

Finally, the other minor character to get an appearance was a cameo from Maud Pie. It was a funny scene and, well, that’s about it. As a joke, however, it does have a continuity lockout problem, at least for Twilight’s half.

And actually, a lot of the usage of background characters and such does present a bit of an issue of continuity lockout. I think it’s not a critical problem, but the reliance does mean some things might seem confusing to people not familiar with the series or the fandom trying to get into it through this movie. Vinyl’s part in particular is especially hit by this problem.

Final Thoughts

I liked the Equestria Girls movie: I loved Rainbow Rocks. The music was much better, the plot was definitely an improvement and greatly expanded on a character I had hoped would get expansion, and the villains and the Main 6 were all fun to watch. The reliance on a lot of background characters kind of makes it a bit hard for newer people to fully get what’s happening at times, but enough I think it makes the movie totally confusing to newcomers.

We are left then with one last question: does that clip with the EQG Twilight mean a Equestria Girls 3 or even a series is in the future? I hope so, because with two movies under their belt, and one of them pretty darn good, I have good hopes about future work in this spinoff franchise.

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1 Comment

Filed under Episode Analysis

One response to “Review: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks

  1. Past Analysis

    Hey man! Glad you loved the movie! I’m even more glad to find that you like Sunset Shimmer in the first movie and now. I recommend going to the Sunset Shimmer reddit for artwork. Since Sunset Shimmer is my waifu, I hope you can understand my enthusiasm.

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