Thursday, August 8, 2013

Some Thoughts on Equestria Girls

I've seen a lot of negative response online for the new Equestria Girls movie, and I'll admit it...when I first saw the promo pictures and trailers on the movie, I was a bit skeptical myself.  Like I said in the post where I first mentioned Equestria Girls, I loved that My Little Pony was just about ponies and not another group of skinny high school girls in short skirts.

After getting a chance to watch the movie, however, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised.  In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I actually ordered the movie through Amazon. :}

I know that many parents (myself included) have had some definite concerns with EG, so I thought I'd try to address some of those.  As has been discussed before, the characters are all skinny and wear little mini skirts.  It would have been nice if they would have chosen a more realistic body type.  Then again, the fact that the students have green or purple skin shows that they weren't exactly going for realism anyway. ;)  Because of this, the skinny factor didn't bother me as much as it would in, say, a live action film.  The whole thing is very obviously stylized and pretend from the get-go.  I wish they'd been dressed a bit more modestly, for sure. And let's be honest...would any of you have pictured a little mini skirt as a human Rainbow Dash's clothing of choice?  I would think she'd be more of a shorts or pants girl, myself.  And surely Applejack would be just as happy in a pair of blue jeans or cords or something.  I doubt that the type of work she'd have to do at Sweet Apple Acres would be easy to do in a mini skirt.  ;)

With a high school film, there is usually high school drama and romance involved.  And it's true, Twilight's quest to retrieve her stolen crown ends up turning into a quest to become princess of the fall formal (her crown is the prize).  There are some typical attitude issues and conflicts between students, but through it all, Twilight keeps going and stands up for others. Twilight does end up with a bit of a romantic interest as well.  Here's the exciting part, though.  It remains no more than an innocent little crush, where Twilight blushes every time he talks to her.  She is asked to the dance, and the couple share a dance that has no physical contact whatsoever.  (This is basically due to the fact that Twilight is comically dancing like a pony would, and in a sweet moment, he joins her, even though the dance is a bit odd from a human perspective.)  They bump into each other a couple of times, they touch hands when trying to pick up the same item, he offers her his arm once, and I believe she gives him a rather impulsive hug at one point.  But that's pretty much it.  No kissing, no overly romanticized plot line, no hanging all over each other.  In fact, the whole high school student body seems to be this way.  I remember one quick clip of a couple holding hands.  Romance is definitely not the focus.  

Even better, the boy Twilight befriends is a sweet, thoughtful gentleman (though for some reason, some fans seem to find him "boring"...I beg to differ).  When Twilight is falsely accused of something, he figures out what really happens and stands up for her (in a rather quick and far-too-easy-to-solve manner, but hey, it is a kid's show). ;)  He treats Twilight with kindness even when she does things that are awkward or different due to her difficulty adjusting to the human world.  And there's also a fun bonus to the character that I won't mention specifically because I don't want to spoil it for all of you. ;)

Many have been concerned that the six friends have been turned into cookie-cutter images of one another, losing their unique personalities, but I think this is a misconception due to the marketing.  The girls retain their pony personalities, but are at odds with one another.  Through Twilight's friendship and insight, they repair their damaged relationships, all of which were due to misunderstandings and deception from another student.

And just like the TV series, friendship truly is the theme of this show.  The high school has the typical "groups" of students (jocks, nerds, musicians, etc.).  Twilight wonders why they're all separated.  Through Twilight's influence, the students come together through their differences and work towards a common goal, a refreshing message for any age group.  Twilight and the human counterparts of her pony friends ultimately save the day through their friendship for each other.  And after all is said and done, they extend the hand of friendship to the villain of the piece after she apologizes.

Of course, this story is not without a few flaws.  There is much of the arguing and yelling typical of MLP at the beginning of the movie which might discourage some parents.  I know my girls tend to get snippy with each other when they've watched too many of the argumentative MLP episodes. :}

The music is also a bit rocky for my taste, and at least one of the songs features the girls shaking their hips back and forth.  It's not overly suggestive, but I wanted to mention it since that is a sensitive issue.

There is also, as usual, a bit of magic involved in the plotline (pretty necessary in a movie with portals and talking ponies). ;)  The "magic of friendship" is used to defeat the villain.

And speaking of the villain, she undergoes a pretty creepy transformation towards the end of the film which might be a little too intense for some younger viewers (including my younger girls).  I would say it's about the same scary-wise as Queen Chrysalis in "A Canterlot Wedding", maybe slightly worse.  She also hypnotizes the entire student body (aside from the "Mane 6") so they will serve her, but Twilight and her friends stop her before the students do anything.

Overall, though, I found myself enjoying this movie much more than I thought I would.  It was fun watching Twilight try to adjust to all of the changes of a human world.  Even more fun was seeing all of the human versions of ponies in the alternate world...there were a few hilarious cameos (watch for Big McIntosh, Granny Smith, the Cutie Mark Crusaders, Vinyl Scratch (or DJ Pon3, to use her official name) and Trixie Lulamoon especially). ;)

I think what impressed me the most, aside from the important themes of friendship, working together, and forgiveness, was the overall story arch that fit right into the regular TV series.  The movie starts shortly after Season 3 left off, with Twilight trying to adjust to the changes and responsibilities of her new role as a princess, and feeling unsure and inadequate.  Through the lessons and experiences she encounters in the human world, she gains confidence in her ability to lead and inspire others.  And after dealing with human legs and arms, her new wings, which have been driving her crazy, aren't such a huge obstacle anymore. 

There's just enough in Equestria Girls that I probably won't show the whole thing to my daughters for a while, and it's not the most profound movie ever made, but I thoroughly enjoyed it for myself.  Do I still prefer the original to the spin-off?  Of course!  I'll most likely always prefer the actual My Little Pony episodes for the reasons I covered in the post I linked above.  Still, I thought that Equestria Girls was a fun little movie and has some merit of its own.  If it ends up being made into a TV spin-off series, I'd just have to take it episode by episode to decide whether or not I enjoyed the series as much as the introductory movie.

In keeping with the Equestria Girls theme, I'll be reviewing two of the dolls later this week, so come back soon! :)

Have any of you had a chance to see the movie yet?  What were your thoughts?


Eruanna said...

I really loved the movie, I thought it was adorable :3
The skinniness didn't bother me because the artstyle is so stylized its clearly not meant to portray realism.

Ill disagree about the dancing.... one of the things that stuck me very particularily about the big dance number was how wonderfully NOT sexualized and how innocent their dance was!

You said in your earlier post about EQG that you find it difficult to find modest, realistically perportioned dolls.... Im curious if you have ever heard of the Lottie dolls and if you have, what you think of them?

beastsbelle said...

Hi Eruanna, thanks for commenting! :) I personally didn't take issue with the dancing, but I know there are some folks who don't like hip shaking of any kind, even if it's not sensual, so that's the only reason I mentioned it.

I actually just discovered the Lottie dolls a couple of months ago and I'm very excited about them. I'll be doing a review soon! :)

Anonymous said...

The Equestria Girl artwork I like, but I find the dolls to be a little freaky looking, which is weird, since I have a gazillion Monster High dolls. But that's just me, and I'm weird.

Caitlin Dundas said...

Can I ask, is it OK to to do a downy dunk on dolls with cheap hair? or would it be better to use a mild shampoo? I have tried really hard with Hannah's hair and don't want to attempt rewigging... But it's awful! So what do you say? Mild shampoo or downy?

beastsbelle said...

Hi Rose Grace. I have to admit that the Equestria Girls dolls aren't my very favorite design. ;) I wish they would have made them in their complete human forms rather than their human/pony forms. I think the main reason I liked the dolls is because I liked the movie...but more on that in my next post! ;)

Hi Caitlin. I'm trying to Hannah one of your Hearts For Hearts Girls? If her hair is super tangled, I'd try the Downy. If it feels dirty or sticky, I'd try a mild shampoo. Just cover her eyes so they're protected. I would also undress her so none of her clothes get damaged.

Hope this helps! Feel free to comment again if I didn't answer your question to your satisfaction. :)

Eruanna said...

Cant wait, Iv been considering getting a Lottie, it will be great to read your review :D

Caitlin Dundas said...

ok it's more tangled than dirty. so I'll give the downy a go, Its really curly though... Will I have to 're curl it, or will it stay fairly curly (I don't mind but It would be nice to know in advance)

beastsbelle said...

I'm excited to do the review...just waiting for my Lottie to arrive. :}

Caitlin, it's very likely you'll have to redo her curls. Which doll is it?

Caitlin Dundas said...

Hannah is a doll in a British line called designafriend they are aimed at young children and don't have the best hair. I don't want to rewig yet though I probably will in the future. Hannah I got on sale for ten pounds about fifteen dollars I think. she is normally priced at twenty pounds though. Graces hair is much easier to get through as its wavy. Thank you for your answers, they will help a lot!

Barb the Evil Genius said...

My 14-year-old just looked at your article and one word for the dolls: "disappointing." Of course, I don't know if she and my 17-year-old are in the target audience MLP wants. They're huge Bronies, though.

Your review reminded me about when my mother went to a Lutheran high school in the early 1950's. They were not allowed to have dances at all, but they were allowed to go on hay rides. o.O

All AG said...

I do think that I would loved these dolls more if they were an actual skin tone. They remind me of the Capitol of the Hunger Games XD. I would much prefer to see what they would look in human form, without ears or anything.

beastsbelle said...

Thanks for the info, Caitlin. I've never heard of the designafriend line before. Have fun with your project! :)

Barb, I definitely think there are some things they could have improved with the Equestria Girls doll line, so I can understand that they won't appeal to everyone. ;)

We didn't dance at my high school either. We had banquets instead. The no dancing thing actually worked out pretty well for me since I have zero coordination! ;)

Oh boy, All AG. Now the EG dolls are suddenly less appealing. ;) I'm not into the odd Capital fashions from HG. I have some thoughts about the dolls as well, but I'm saving those for my review, which should be up late this afternoon or evening. ;)

Kate, thanks for your comment. I decided not to publish it because of one of the things they mentioned in the article. While I think there were some valid points, I do feel that the article over-generalized things a bit. Not everyone who labels themselves as a "Brony" is into the things they were talking about, although there are definitely some who are. They also talked about Equestria Girls being for the Bronies. The funny thing is that there have been a lot of Bronies who are really disgusted with the whole concept and wish they'd just left them as ponies. :} The reactions to the show and the dolls are definitely mixed.

My own belief is that Hasbro was looking for a way to find some competition for the Monster High/Ever After High/Barbie lines. They're going to need to up their quality and articulation to accomplish that goal, however.

AJ said...

Heya, new follower here, though I've been lurking for awhile!

I must say... I loved Equestria Girls from the moment I heard about it. I run a My Little Pony community on LiveJournal and reaction was... er. Mixed. To say the least. We had the hardcore bronies going "OMG NO! DEFILED! UNCLEAN UNCLEAN!" which just seemed a little bit of overkill to me, and then there was the faction that just loves dolls, loves anything about Magical Girls in general. I basically fall into that second category myself and was waiting with baited breath to see the dolls, and the movie.

The movie? I loved. I think a happy look of ":D" didn't leave my face the entire time I watched it, the songs were catchy (bless you, Daniel Ingram!), and there was enough snark (oh, Applejack) to keep an adult thoroughly entertained. I think the phrase "And then Twilight Sparkle was a Magical Girl for Real" left my mouth more than once.

The dolls? I can't find! I try to buy locally when I can - so I can check for paint defects and the like - and so far I've found nothing. And now I've seen that Toys R Us Canada is going to have a six-doll set that includes Princess Luna and... yeah. Guess I'm gonna have to find a way to get that, or hope it comes to the US. I always tell my friends that I have a Pretty Pony Princess Problem, and that's transferred to Equestria Girls, apparently!

Thanks for your awesome blog!

beastsbelle said...

Hi AJ! Nice to meet you. :) Thanks for stopping by. was fun reading about your reaction to the movie. I think if you're into MLP it's pretty much impossible not to smile throughout the whole thing. ;)

If it makes you feel any better, the only reason I have EG dolls is because my mom had to go out of town and found them while she was there. We still don't have any locally.

Ooh, that six doll set sounds pretty fun! I'll have to keep my eye out for it. ;)

I'm so glad you're enjoying the blog! :)

Emily said...

This is a wonderful post! I find your thoughts about the movie very helpful since I haven't seen it and I am also behind the curve in learning about the controversy surrounding these dolls. They just seemed like strange, cartoonish dolls to me! Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

beastsbelle said...

You're welcome, Emily! :) Glad you found it helpful.

This post was actually inspired by a ranty, negative post I read online from a mom who hadn't actually seen the movie but was listing all of its negatives. I have to admit, I have a really hard time when people start criticizing something without really researching it first. :}