Rainbow Rocks. Oh boy. Time to hit the pony-bars and forget this thing.
When Equestria Girls came out last year, the fan base couldn’t seem to agree on anything about it. Some people loved it or hated it all the way, while others were mixed. I was in the hater camp. I grew up watching countless numbers of girly kids movies thanks to my sisters, and I have developed a high tolerance for their stupidity. But EG made me cringe so hard my face hurt for a week.
The MLP series is renowned for its good writing and general rejection of stereotypical girly crap, and to see this series using the cliches it’s tried to avoid is really bothersome. Rainbow Rocks does little to improve upon its predecessor’s faults. It continues with the same cliches and lame jokes that plagued the last one. Even looking at it from a strictly narrative standpoint and ignoring my own biases, the story doesn’t flow. At least Equestria Girls had decent pacing.
Do you like boring cliches? No? Rainbow Rocks will be sure to disappoint. The “battle of the bands” bit has been done to death, and we all know it’s just going to end with usual “Friendship really is magic!” message. Sunset Shimmer finally gets some character development, as she struggles to rebuild her social life after blowing up the school in the last movie. This could have been a great direction for the movie to follow, because the few scenes that address that bit are really good. Unfortunately, it’s largely glossed over in favor of the other characters and some surprisingly mean-spirited jokes at Sunset’s expense.
Sunset is sort of the main character this go round, in that she does exactly what Twilight Sparkle would be doing if she wasn’t moping, but the movie focuses more on the band instead of her. The band dynamic gives way to nothing but arguing between the Mane 6. Rainbow Dash acts like a jerk the entire time, and Rarity does nothing but whine about dresses. I like both of these characters, but all Rainbow Rocks does is use their worst traits and not much else. The villains of the movie cast a spell on the school that causes everyone to argue, but I think the Mane 6 already had that problem to begin with.
Speaking of which, the villains in Rainbow Rocks are actually pretty interesting this time. In the last movie, Sunset Shimmer was just a generic bully character, but this go-round we get a trio of evil sirens. They don’t have much motivation beyond “we’re evil”, but the three have good chemistry and have the only funny moments in the film. The fight scene with the villains at the end is pretty neat as well. It’s kinda like that cool DJ battle in Scott Pilgrim vs The World, but unfortunately they opted to end it with the typical “Explode them with a rainbow” tactic from the show.
I can’t do this review without putting in my own fedora-clad brony opinions. If you are a Twilight Sparkle lover like yours truly, you will be sorely disappointed. She’s barely in the movie and even then mostly just mopes. That is not the cute nerd we know and love. Plus Brad shows up and is a total waifu-stealing asshole until Trixie gets in the way. Screw you, Brad.
Speaking of Trixie, I will admit that the fanservice isn’t nearly as painful as last time. Aside from the random Maud appearance, the obligatory fan favorite cameos aren’t jarring like they were in the last movie. Like the show, they’re either just in the background or used briefly as a sight gag. Not nearly as in-your-face as the insufferable peanut butter crackers “joke” from EG.
I’d also like to point out that post-credits scene. What was that about? Twilight is still there? Like regular, in the person-verse Twilight? How did that break the universe twice? Also, that mirror-transporting-book bullcrap doesn’t fly with me. Yeah, it’s a show with talking unicorns, but I can only suspend my disbelief so much. The characters, let alone Twilight, have never been able to build something that complex and scientific in the show unless it was for some one-off joke. I ain’t buying that.
Overall, it’s about the same as Equestria Girls. If you liked the first one, you’ll like this one too. If you hated EG, you’re not going to like this one any better. It’s more of the same, and it all depends on whether or not you wanted more to begin with. It wasn’t for me, both on a personal level and a snobby critic level. As far as kids movies go, it’s far from the worst one out there, but I feel like the MLP series deserves better.