Movie Review: Equestria Girls – Legend of Everfree
When it was first launched in 2013, the My Little Pony: Equestria Girls concept was quickly poo-poohed by fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, who saw this direct-to-video spinoff as little more than a vehicle for selling toys (why does that sound hypocritical?). Surprisingly, the first Equestria Girls film wasn’t as bad as some had imagined!
After its sequel Rainbow Rocks managed to improve some story areas (along with having a very catchy soundtrack album!), many were now aboard the train ride, but felt the tracks got bumpy in the last go-round, with the 2015 release of Friendship Games.
Though Hasbro is still making toys around the Equestria Girls series, they seem to have settled into a pattern of one movie a year for this property. This year, Netflix obtained the rights to stream the latest film, Legend of Everfree, a month in advance of its home video release. After its streaming release on October 1st, I decided to take a peek.
The students of Canterlot High find themselves at Camp Everfree for a week, under the supervision of Camp Director Gloriosa Daisy, and her brother, Timber Spruce.
Our ‘mane’ girls have plenty of activities they want to do, but Twilight Sparkle secretly fears that the demoness Midnight Sparkle, is lurking inside her, waiting to resurface.
As camp gets underway, strange things begin to occur, leading some to believe the happenings to be the work of Gaea Everfree, a forest spirit who is rumored to exist in the surrounding wilderness.
Unlike the previous Equestria Girls films, Legend brings in a new group of writers to the series. Johanna Lewis and Kristine Songco, who have co-written four episodes of the Friendship is Magic TV series together, take the reins from EqG veterans Meghan McCarthy, and Josh Haber.
The two actually have a semi-decent story at hand with Legend of Everfree, but it’s just a pity that it becomes overloaded with subplots. The writers even throw in a few too many camp cliches, with one that just feels totally unneeded to drive the overall story.
When it comes to music, Daniel Ingram returns to pen 6 new songs, but I found this to be the first Equestria Girls film where I couldn’t even think of one that I could easily put on repeat after the film was over.
Ingram’s music is often a treat to many fans, but sad to say, most of the songs sound like they don’t actually fit together properly. Some have lyrics that sound incomplete, and one song, sounds like it could be a major character lament…but it’s over before it feels like it even gets the chance to build into something memorable!
Much like the last few Equestria Girls films, Sunset Shimmer takes the spotlight, as one of the more interesting characters in the story. Most of the doubts she was working through seem to have gone away, and she ends up acting as a mentor figure to Twilight Sparkle, who is still uneasy after the events from the end of Friendship Games.
One issue I had with Friendship Games, was that most of the girls quickly became little more than stereotypes of their basic personalities, and that seems to almost carry over here. A prime example is Rarity, who just won’t shut up about wanting to put on a fashion show for the camp.
I’m also growing tired of every single film in the series, adding more and more ‘accessories’ to the girls’ ‘Pony-up’ powers (yes, I am aware that this film is meant to sell toys!). Some of the powers here make a little sense, but one wonders how they could affect the girls’ everyday lives outside of camp.
For example, Rainbow Dash gains super-speed, but couldn’t this very well lead to an end to her sports career, given she is now even more super-human, and some could see that as a form of cheating? Most disturbing to me, is Pinkie Pie’s ability to make anything she flings around (when she’s ‘magically-charged’), turn into an explosive…making her a walking Weapon of Mass-Destruction! I kid you not…one wrong move, and she could very well blow up Canterlot High!
When it comes to the addition of new characters for the series, Gloriosa Daisy and Timber Spruce are our main focus as supporting characters this time around.
Enid Raye-Adams voices Gloriosa with a perkiness that feels very similar to actress Edie McClurg, but overall, it never really feels like Gloriosa’s main role solidifies into a wholly memorable character. The writers even give Gloriosa her own catchphrase, and if you thought Principal Abacus Cinch got a bit carried away with the use of the word “reputation” in the last film, Gloriosa’s catchphrase quickly enters drinking game territory!
Gloriosa’s animation model also looks like she benefited from some advancements, as the DHX animation staff really seem to have fun with her numerous facial expressions.
Timber Spruce becomes our “nice guy” for the picture, who seems to quickly set his sights on Twilight. Though they try to give him a personality, most will probably think of him as little more than “Flash Sentry II.”
Looking back over the Equestria Girls film line-up, Rainbow Rocks still feels like the high-point in the series. Taking the kids out into the wilderness in this film, felt like it could have led to a new direction to take the series, but the overall structure felt like they had to stick within a rather rigid frame-work.
Fourth films in a series can often get ‘flimsy,’ and that’s what Legend of Everfree feels like. In the end, I think I could go back and watch Friendship Games a few more times, and still get something out of it. Sadly, there just doesn’t feel like there’s enough memorable stuff here, to make one consider repeat viewings.
Final Grade: C+ (Legend of Everfree moves our ‘mane’ cast of characters out into nature, but turns what should be an exciting adventure, into something that just seems to meander along, on its way to a ‘by the book’ ending. While the character interactions between Sunset Shimmer and Twilight Sparkle are entertaining, the shoehorning in of another encounter with “Equestrian Magic” and more powers for our girls, feels like a missed opportunity to try something new. )