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My Little Pony: Equstria Girls (2013)

Shout! Factory
Blu-ray Disc Released: 8/6/2013

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Audio: 1/2

Review by Sydny Long, Posted on 8/13/2013

Of the many fads that made the eighties so memorable, one of the more prominent trends on television was the creation of animated series designed to promote toys. While this craze hasn't disappeared over the years, it reached its pinnacle in the eighties, with programs such as My Little Pony, Care Bears, and G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. Most dismissed these as extended commercials for the product they were centered on, but that didn't stop children from eagerly gobbling these shows up (one of them being me). This fad reemerged recently, starting with the surprisingly popular show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and branching off to cover different action figures and stuffed animals. What was once dismissed as a colorful advertisement for plastic ponies is now a feature film with its own theatrical release. The question remains, though: is this a movie with some substance or just another pretty gimmick?

The film picks up directly after the show's third season, with Twilight Sparkle (voiced by Tara Strong) being crowned a princess and gaining her own pair of wings. The scholarly unicorn and her five close friends: tomboyish Rainbow Dash (voiced by Ashleigh Ball), timid Fluttershy (voiced by Andrea Libman), fashionista Rarity (voiced by Tabitha St. Germain), hard-working Applejack (voiced by Ashleigh Ball), and peppy Pinkie Pie (voiced by Andrea Libman) arrive in Canterlot so Twilight can begin learning about her new royal duties, with the help of her mentor, Princess Celestia (voiced by Nicole Oliver). However, these plans are put on hold when a mysterious mare breaks into the castle and steals Twilight's crown, after which she dives into a mirror. Twilight Sparkle, along with her loyal pet dragon Spike (voiced by Cathy Weseluck), are sent to follow the mare through the mirror, which turns out to be a portal to another dimension: our human world. Now, in order to reclaim her crown, Twilight must navigate the frightening world of high school and learn about us humans so she can win Princess of the Fall Formal against the very mare that stole her crown, the vicious Sunset Shimmer (voiced by Rebecca Shoichet).

No one can deny that this movie is a perfect cliché. Awkward girl must work her way into the student body and face off against petty popular girl to win what she deserves. There's even a perfectly-sculpted male love interest who plays with his band at the school dance and wears his hair in the sanitized stereotype of a typical "rocker". The girls are all tall and pretty and don't shy away from enveloping one another in a squealing group hug. Everyone fits into a stereotype and the movie is comfortable with that.

As someone who was once involved in the show's ever-growing fandom, I can honestly say I was disappointed by the film. Nobody was expecting anything ground-breaking, but after being so impressed by how sweet and absorbing the program was, I expected more. For example, the character designs for the human world. Every student is modeled the exact same: large eyes, tiny waists, long legs. Just a short Google search could provide any watcher of the movie with countless artist designs that would have portrayed the characters we know and love in a more realistic, diverse light.

But that doesn't make this a bad movie. The original tone of the show hasn't changed and the characters remain the same: innocent and charming. It's undeniably entertaining to watch Twilight Sparkle attempt to adjust to our world, however candy-coated it may be. Girls watching the film will find something to relate to in every character, as they've been developed for three years and have long since broken free of their character archetypes (for example, Pinkie Pie's mood swings and Applejack's refusal to let others help her). There are a few musical numbers, but these are never grating or go on too long. After all, the film has snagged some of the better performers on today's animation scene. Toss that together with some expressive animation and you get a movie that might not impress loyal fans, but will give your daughter something entertaining and morally-upright to watch until you've got every song memorized.

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls wants to be the mane attraction on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Shout! Factory. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 15 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material. While the animation isn't overly detailed, this transfer doesn't reveal any flaws in it. The image is never overly dark or bright. The depth is good, as the characters are nicely separated from the backgrounds. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The track focuses mainly on the center and front channels. There are some good stereo effects here, and a few moments where sounds from off-screen are highlighted. Yet, the surround sound is basically non-existent and the subwoofer effects are very mild.

The extras on this disc are a bit meatier than one might expect, including an interesting tidbit about the development of the movie titled "Through The Looking Glass of Equestria Girls"; karaoke sing-a-longs to the tunes from the film; a printable movie poster; and a cute game called Ponify Yourself that will doubtlessly dazzle the kids.

Review by Sydny Long. Copyright 2013.