Thursday, 22 September 2016

Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks

Following the phenomenal success of the first Equestria Girls movie, Hasbro decided to follow it up with a sequel the following year.
They named it Rainbow Rocks.
Presumably because Rainbow does, in fact, rock.
However, this time around they decided to release some cinematic shorts during the run-up.
So I'm going to quickly cover those before diving into the movie proper.
The first short that was released was called 'Music to my ears' and it involved DJ-Pon-3.
I have no problem with them choosing DJ-Pon-3, but it was kinda baffling at the time. As popular as she is, DJ-Pon-3 isn't exactly a major character.
Although she is majorly cute.
The short is rather simple, involving DJ-Pon-3 walking to school whilst listening to music. She stops off at the cafe and waves to the main characters before bursting into the school proper. But Principal Celestia is unamused by her antics and demands she hand over her headphones, which she does.
Though, once Celestia's out of earshot...
DJ-Pon-3 for best waifu.
The other shorts all revolve around the same theme. Each of the main characters finds themselves in a situation where they can play music.
And then they go through a magical transformation identical to the one at the end of the last movie.
First up, Fluttershy and Rarity help out at the animal shelter by cleaning the hamster habitat.
Rarity's expression says it all.
Rarity attempts to look after the hamsters whilst Fluttershy does the actual cleaning, because there is no universe where Rarity would ever touch something that icky.
Although Rarity isn't exactly the best choice to look after a horde of small rodents.
I should ask where Rarity found the materials to make them all clothes, but then again, this is Rarity we're talking about.
The hamsters are causing quite a ruckus which even Fluttershy finds herself unable to deal with, until Fluttershy knocks her tambourine out of her bag. The noise seems to hypnotise them, so she starts playing in order to Pie'd Piper them back into their home.
And that's when she 'Ponies Up', as they start to say.
Pro tip, never type 'Pony Girl' into Google.
As a side-note, I can't remember when these were actually released, so I'm just going to talk about them in the order I first saw them in.
So up next is Rainbow Dash as she goes into a guitar shop to buy a new guitar.
And we get more DJ-Pon-3, because well, why not?
Just as Rainbow Dash picks out a ridiculously over-the-top guitar that looks like something Sonic the Hedgehog would pass up as being "Too extreme", Trixie shows up with intent to purchase the exact same item.
"This shop is barely big enough for one of our egos, let alone both."
They decide to have a 'Shred off' over who gets to purchase it, and while Trixie puts in a good showing, she's just not as awesome as Rainbow Dash. Mostly due to her 'Ponying up' during the battle.
Either that or she's going Super-Saiyan.
Next up is Applejack who's frustrated at Granny Smith for selling her beloved bass guitar at a yard sale.
"What do you mean 'Home'? I'm already in mine."
Turns out she sold the guitar to the Flim Flam brothers, who're just as smarmy and crooked in this universe as they are in Equestria. Despite having only paid $2 for it they demand $1,000 from Applejack if she wishes to purchase it back. She tries to prove that it's hers, but despite it being initialled they remain unconvinced.
So she plays it in front of them.
Her bass has apples on it? Who'da thunk it?
Even despite this, the brothers point out that it is legally their property and they don't have to sell it if they don't want to. But, thanks to the intimidation factor of four schoolgirls threatening to beat them up (Great moral there Hasbro) they come to a suitable compromise.
They could have at least dressed her up as an apple.
Next up is the actual reveal that Rainbow Dash is recruiting people to join her band. She complains to Pinkie that she needs someone with lots of energy to play the drums, but where can she possibly find someone like that?
I wonder?
For some reason a brainwave hits Rainbow Dash and she decides to try Pinkie out for the job, since Pinkie is essentially a female version of Animal from the Muppets.
And guess what? Turns out she's a natural.
As a drummer myself I can confirm that all drummers are insane.
Finally, now that the band has been recruited, they all meet for practice. While the above members all have instruments that are easy to transport (Relatively in the case of the drum kit) Rarity chose a rather more difficult instrument to play.
Pony Rarity has been shown to be insanely strong. Human Rarity? Not so much.
Despite these difficulties Rarity manages to get the piano into the music room (Thanks to the human versions of the Diamond Dogs). However, thanks to how much time it takes to move it, they're out of practice time.
Luckily Pinkie suggests that she play a Keytar, which is a cross between a guitar and a piano. Rarity tries it out and she takes to it rather well.
Like a Swan to a lake. (I would say 'Like a duck to water', but this is Rarity we're talking about.)
This does mean that Rarity has to get her piano back home though, so she does it in style.
Because when you have three muscular dudes at your beck and call, you're gonna use them.
Now that the shorts are out of the way, we can get into the movie itself.
It starts in a fast food place somewhere with three girls absorbing some kind of green mist using gemstones on their necks.
It's not a chili place is it?
The three girls remove their hoods to reveal some epic hairstyles which logically shouldn't have been able to fit. They quickly go an 'As you know' argument which helps inform us who they are and what they're after. They use the crystals around their necks to amplify their magical singing which gets people to argue with each other. They then absorb the negative energy, which takes the form of that green mist we saw.
Their argument also helps us learn about their personalities.
Adagio is the orange girl and she's the leader due to being the strongest.
Aria is the purple girl who complains a lot but still does what she's told.
Sonata is the blue girl and she's a complete moron.
Adagio's face tells a story.
Their arguing gets cut short when Adagio notices the storm outside, which turns out to have been caused by Sunset Shimmer's transformation at the end of the last movie. The girls rush outside to watch the rainbow magic friendship cannon thing occur and Adagio realises that this means Equestria magic has arrived in their world. She also realises that she if she can steal that magic then she can use it to conquer the world.
It's important to remember that no matter how cute they are, they're still evil monstrosities bent on world domination.
They just know how to look good whilst doing it.
As the camera zooms into Adagio's gem we get the opening credits, which are mostly a recap of the previous movie.
So, do you see two faces or one vase?
The music itself is pretty darn awesome, getting some good Rock vibes going.
After some establishing shots of Canterlot High we focus on the gymnasium where almost every student is preparing banners for an upcoming music festival. Sunset Shimmer offers to help the Cutie Mark Crusaders, but they're understandably wary of her due to the whole 'Raging She-Daemon' thing from the last movie.
Luckily the Humane 5 are friendly towards her and call her over.
And yes, this does mean that the villain from the last movie is the hero for this movie.
Let the shipping commence!
Principal Celestia enters to tell everyone how proud she is of them for working together for the good of the school. Before immediately reminding them all of what happened.
Principal Celestia is not a very good Principal.
"Hey kids, anyone else remember that time Sunset Shimmer tried to turn you all into zombies?"
Later on the gang are getting ready to practice for the showcase, but Sunset is in a bad mood due to everybody hating her. While most of the girls try to be nice, Pinkie prefers to be a bit more blunt about it.
She also seems to think of the laws of physics as mere suggestions. Seriously, what is up with her neck?
The girls practice their music which serves more to inform the audience about 'Ponying Up' in case they didn't watch the shorts and just dove straight into the movie.
It also serves to mention Twilight Sparkle and how she's in Equestria and essentially unreachable.
Which is overheard by Flash Sentry, who makes an awkward appearance then leaves just as quickly. Again, this is done more to inform the audience that Twilight and Flash had a 'Thing' than because he really needed to be in the scene.
Are we sure his name's not Crash Sentry?
After he leaves Sunset heads out because she volunteered to show some new girls around school. And just whom do these new girls happen to be?
Did they purposely look for the shadowiest corner to wait in?
Normally I would complain about how obviously evil the villains are, but in this case it would be pointless and it actually makes a later joke better.
Sunset shows them around the school, bringing special attention to the musical showcase, which the new girls seem rather interested in. Sunset asks if they sing and Sonata almost blows their cover immediately by blurting everything out, but Adagio manages to cover it up. Barely.
"Ignore them, they're idiots."
Later on Sunset is sitting down with the girls at lunch and explains that something about the new girls seemed 'off'. She struggles to describe what she means, but luckily the new girls burst into the cafeteria and start singing a song to mind-control everybody into arguing with each other.
Well, 'luckily' in that Sunset doesn't have to explain what's off about them. But it's also 'unluckily' because of the whole 'mind-control' thing.
Gee, I wonder what they use to focus their magic?
Their magic is basically the ability to control people via singing at them. If you can hear their song, you fall under their spell. Unless you have some form of magical resistance, which the main characters do due to their Equestrian magic.
In other words, we get to hear some amazing bad guy music.
Remember the last movie when Twilight got the school to do what she wanted by singing at them?
Also, more shipping.
The song is called Let's Have A Battle (Of The Bands) and it pretty much describes the plot of the movie. The new girls persuade everyone to have a battle instead of a showcase, then they stir the flames of competition so that everyone starts falling out with their friends.
Everyone except the main characters, who I mentioned were immune.
Speaking of the main characters, they decide to go to the Principal and tell her what's going on.
Unfortunately, Principal Celestia isn't always the most reasonable individual. She and her sister flat out accuse Sunset Shimmer of lying in order to make her prior actions seem less heinous.
"The students who saved our school from a rampaging She-Daemon are saying that the school is under threat again?
Why on Earth would I believe a word they say?"
To be fair to the faculty, the bad girls already got to them and sang a song to control them, it just amuses me how bluntly rude she can sometimes be.
They also call the new girls 'The Dazzlings', so I'm going to be calling them that from now on as well.
The Rainbooms leave to regroup and try to come up with a plan. They hang around the statue that houses the portal to Equestria and discuss how much easier it would be if they could contact their magical Princess friend and get her to solve their problem.
That's when Sunset Shimmer has an idea. She can write to her!
"Everybody just smile, I'll call the men in white coats."
Turns out the book is magical and can contact Princess Celestia, which does answer a question I'd been wondering about for a while. Namely, how did Celestia's other students contact her? Twilight uses Spike's magic breath. Turns out Sunset used a magic book.
Sunset starts writing in the book, hoping Celestia can get a message to Twilight.
Meanwhile, in Equestria, Princess Twilight Sparkle is lazing around in her castle.
As you do.
And by 'Lazing around' I do of course mean 'Reading'. Because she's Twilight, what else would she be doing?
Twilight's receiving a delivery of books from Princess Celestia's library, including the one that matches Sunset's.
It's a book that glows and vibrates whenever it gets a message. I feel like there's an obvious pun around here somewhere.
Twilight reads the message and immediately works out what's wrong. The Dazzlings are actually a trio of creatures called Sirens who terrorised ancient Equestria. Starswirl the Bearded banished them to another dimension, which is obviously the same one the mirror leads to.
She wants to help, but as Rainbow Dash points out, the portal is closed. But then Pinkie counter-points that Sunset was able to get a message through, so maybe the barrier's not that strong?
This gives Twilight an idea on how she can travel to the other world.
It just required a little science, magic, technobabble and multi-model reflection sorting.
Her friends want to come with her but, as Twilight points out, having two of everyone might get a bit confusing. Although I would love to see some sitcom-style identical twin hijinks.
As amusing as that would be.
So Twilight and Spike enter the human world and meet up with their human friends.
Note to self: If I ever see a magic portal between dimensions I will not run through it. I will walk.
Twilight explains the backstory of the Sirens and comes up with a plan. Since they're all together they can just blast them with their magical friendship magic and make everything instantly better.
Since we're not even 30 minutes into the movie, you can guess how that works out.
There appears to be a distinct shortage of glowing and magic and rainbows and stuff.
The girls run off in embarrassment and try to figure out why their magic didn't work. They figure out that since their magic only comes out when they play music, they'll have to use the spell during the contest.
The only problem is that Twilight can't play music, due to not being used to having fingers.
So, while Rainbow Dash is at first reluctant to give up the lead singer role, she does relent and they welcome Twilight to the Rainbooms.
Sad Sunset makes me sad.
With their plan in place Twilight heads towards the library so that she can get a good nights rest, but Pinkie has a better idea.
Slumber party!
As long as this one doesn't involve any trees in any bedrooms.
The slumber party involves some adorable moments, such as Spike photobombing Rarity and twilight complimenting fluttershy's songwriting.
But after everyone else has gone to sleep Twilight sneaks away to the kitchen.
The counter-spell she's writing is proving to be tougher than she expected.
Sunset shows up to grab a midnight snack and they chat a little, with Twilight stopping short of actually asking for help.
Sunset Shimmer + Whipped Cream = Me Dying Happy.
The next morning the group practice their song. The result is... Not good. It's not the worst song in the world, but it can grate against your ears.
The reason it's bad is because the Rainbooms are trying not to 'Pony up' whilst they play, because they don't want the Dazzlings to realise what they're doing.
They don't seem to realise that their failed attempt at using magic the previous day has already tipped them off. Seriously, they were standing five feet in front of them, how could they not notice?
After their (Abysmal) practice session ends they realise that they're running late. Since the counter spell's not finished yet they decide to wait until the finals to use it.
This means that we have to watch through the battles.
The reason that I say that in such a negative tone is because Snips and Snails decide to rap.
This is an insult both rap and the very concept of music.
Their 'music' was adlibbed, which goes to show that you literally can't write music this bad.
After they finish the Rainbooms take the stage. They carefully try to keep their coolness in check whilst staying cool enough to win.
So about 20% less cool.
Don't blame me, blame Rainbow Dash.
They play their song and it's pretty decent, despite some interference from opposing bands.
I always knew Rarity was a victim to fashion.
After their song they argue a bit about various things. As they leave to practice some more Twilight bumps into Flash, but he doesn't seem too happy to see her.
What happens when you tell a 'Nice Guy' that you're happier as friends.
Flash yells at Twilight, having assumed that she only returned to compete in the battle.
To be fair to Flash he is being mind-controlled to value winning the competition above everything else, even Twilight, but it's still quite a jarring scene.
Flash's anger causes Twilight to start crying and run away, much to the delight of the Dazzlings. Just as Adagio brags to the others about how easy it will be they get ambushed by a sinister figure in a dark hallway.
Anyone else getting a sense of deja-vu?
Sunset tries to intimidate the Dazzlings, but they instead turn it around and start mocking her. Just as they start rubbing Sunset's loneliness into her face they leave for the stage.
The next song is called Under Our Spell and while it's certainly catchy it's also very sinister.
Every time Adagio smiles, a puppy dies. Adagio knows this. It makes her happy.
The song is literally about how much control they have over everybody. Whilst they sing we get snippets of the competition, showing competitors facing off against one another. Eventually Flash gets knocked out by the Dazzlings in the first Semi-final, leaving the Rainbooms to battle Trixie.
Fluttershy tries to suggest that they try out her song, but Rainbow Dash overrides her. Because of how important it is that they win, she decides that they should play Awesome As I Wanna Be, a song written by Rainbow Dash, about Rainbow Dash.
You can imagine why this causes them to start arguing.
But they don't have time for arguing, so they reluctantly go on stage and start playing the song.
And you can see just how much she's enjoying it.
The song itself genuinely is amazing. Rainbow Dash really gets into it, a little too much in fact. She starts glowing with magic, which only Sunset Shimmer seems to notice. She panics, thinking that the Dazzlings might catch onto their plans if they see anyone 'Ponying up' and so she stops the song.
In the most subtle manner possible of course.
The other members scold her for literally leaping headfirst into the situation. They get interrupted by Principle Celestia as she announces the winner.
To be the Rainbooms.
Trixie takes it well.
Turns out the Dazzlings got to the Principal and mind-controlled her into allowing the Rainbooms into the final.
This seems like an odd decision on their part, especially considering that they know what the Rainbooms are planning. But it's actually pretty smart. They 'comfort' a distraught Trixie, mentioning how horrible it would be if something happened to the Rainbooms that would prevent them from competing. If something like that happened, then clearly they would have to be replaced by the runner-up.
Not that they're trying to plant any ideas in her head or anything.
Later that day the Rainbooms are getting prepped for their last chance when Trixie shows up and goes full Wile E. Coyote on them.
Huh, how fortunate that they were all standing directly on top of the trapdoor when she pulled the lever.
The Rainbooms try to escape but find that they're locked in. As the deadline looms they start arguing again, mostly about petty things. As they do, the Dazzlings finally get to feed on their Equestrian magic, becoming stronger than ever.
Adagio wants to conquer the world, but is she really serious about doing it in that outfit? Seriously, those shoulders are so 80s.
Sunset Shimmer suddenly realised that she can see between the cracks of the stage trapdoor. Why do you think she stopped wearing skirts?
Sunset tells the Rainbooms to stop arguing and explains that they're playing directly into the Dazzlings hands. The group has a heart-to-heart and Twilight admits that she couldn't finish the counter-spell anyway. They all come together in a group hug and decide to just forgive everything and start over. They realise that as long as they all sing together, their magic will come out and save the day, it doesn't matter what song they play.
So Rainbow Dash decides that they should play Fluttershy's song.
Thus proving that Rainbow Dash truly is as awesome as she thinks she is.
This does still leave them with the minor inconvenience of being stuck in a small room together, but luckily Spike wasn't trapped with them.
But he couldn't open the door with dog paws, so he found someone to help.
This explains why she got her own cinematic short.
Turns out that DJ-Pon-3 never takes off her headphones, so she's immune to the Dazzling's magical mind-manipulating music.
While they get changed and race to save the day, the Dazzlings are busy making sure that everybody else is under their power.
And enjoying every moment of it.
As they sing they gather even more power until they have enough to transform into hideous new forms which are more powerful than ever.
It's the addition of glitter that makes them truly hideous.
As they're celebrating their victory they hear some music drowning out their own song, which of course turns out to be the Rainbooms.
How can the Rainbooms play over the Dazzlings? Well, turns out DJ-Pon-3 didn't just bring a pair of opposing thumbs to help them with.
You can buy the DJ-Pon-3 doll and her transforming car/sound-station at all good retailers.
(That isn't even a joke, you genuinely can buy it)
The Rainbooms play their song and transform, but the Dazzlings don't let it end that quickly. Using their magic they create energy avatars to battle on their behalf, kind of like how it worked in Scott Pilgrim.
And the music amps up to match.
The Dazzlings and the Rainbooms have some magical soundwave battle, which looks freaking amazing.
At least, it does when you watch it, trying to describe it afterwards doesn't really do it justice.
Fluttershy shoots magical butterflies out of her tambourine like they're a Kamehameha wave. It's both awesome and ridiculous at the same time.
The Dazzlings eventually come out on top, knocking the Rainbooms to the ground with a powerful blast. Twilight's microphone dramatically flies out of her hand in slow-motion, landing at Sunset's feet.
Gee, I wonder what's going to happen now?
When a character in a show throws away their jacket, you know it's on even more than Donkey Kong.
Sunset starts to sing about who she is now and she starts to glow.
I'm not certain when My Little Pony turned into Sailor Moon but you'll hear no complaints from me.
What happens next defies description, but it is even more over the top and ridiculous.
It's a giant Alicorn avatar of pure friendship.
The friendship energy overpowers the Dazzlings, smashing both their avatars and their gemstones. They try to sing again, but without their gemstones they have no magic and even worse, no auto-tuning.
Ironically, the Sirens can't actually sing.
One thing that I noticed about this movie is that every time a song is played, the characters on screen actually perform the right movements in regards to their instruments. When Rainbow Dash plays a chord on her guitar, an actual guitar was played and recorded.
But when the Dazzlings were singing, their lip movements didn't always sync up with the sounds. It gave their songs a slightly surreal feel to them, whilst also being a very subtle clue as to just how powerful they would become after their gemstones were destroyed.
Don't worry though, I'm sure three attractive teenage girls can find some way to survive.
Meanwhile, Rainbow dash points out that with Twilight leaving to go home soon, they do have an open slot in the band for a backup vocalist.
Although Sunset prefers the guitar.
And so Twilight returns to Equestria, the Rainbooms sing one more song over the end credits and the movie comes to an end.
Was it as good as the first?
Hell no, it was even better!
I especially love Sunset Shimmer in this movie. The last one seemed to redeem her too quickly and let her off the hook for everything she had done, but as this one showed, forgiveness doesn't always come easy, no matter how sorry you are.
But the movie's not quite over, because just like Marvel, this one has a post-credits scene.
Remember in the last movie, Pinkie asked Twilight if she had a twin in the city who also owned a purple dog named Spike?

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