The holidays this year have been hectic, but I got to spend some quality time with my family. To my delight, my little sister’s favorite way of passing the time was to watch My Little Pony: Rainbow Rocks. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy MLP:FiM as much as the next Pegasister, but the films are known to be disastrous for a reason. Regardless, I had hope for the movie already knowing the prequel shorts Hasbro released on YouTube were pretty good.
For better or worse, this movie does try to have more of a plot than the first film. There aren’t as many tropes, but the overall story is a hot mess. They poke fun at the hokey magic during the first movie, while ignoring the message that friendship is important in this film. There was essentially nothing added to this universe outside of the small scene that happens during the end credits.
Rainbow Rocks starts with people arguing among each other at a diner in the Equestria Girls universe (the modern world with a few tweaks). We see three girls absorbing the negative energy in the diner and complaining about being banished to this world. Suddenly bursts of light shoot up into the sky outside (the ending scene from the last movie), and they recognize it as equestrian magic. We learn later that these three girls are sirens that were sent here by Star Swirl the Bearded, and that they plan to take over this world by amplifying their powers with equestrian magic to hypnotize the town to do their bidding.
The sirens join Canterlot High and influence the school into making the school’s charity band performances into a battle of the bands show. The school quickly gets into an uproar about whose band is the best and who will win the competition. Sunset Shimmer, the reformed villain from the last film, notices that the sirens are using dark magic from the pendants they wear to create animosity in the school. She helps Fluttershy, Applejack, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, and Rainbow Dash contact Twilight from her world.
Twilight receives her message, and decides to help the girls. When she arrives there, Twilight walks up to the sirens, holds hands with the rest of the girls, and literally shouts, “Friendship is magic!” Nothing happens, and the group looks at each other in confusion. It’s not long before the sirens start a riot by announcing to everyone at the party that Rainbow Dash’s band, The Rainbooms (or basically the main cast), plan on winning the battle of the bands competition. The sirens notice that the girls don’t fall under their spell, and figure out that they are the ones in this world with equestrian magic.
The Rainbooms try to stay in the competition as long as they can while Twilight creates a counter spell to defeat the sirens. After being sabotaged by other bands, the girls still make it to the finals, only to be trapped underneath the performance stage. The band starts to argue with each other, giving the negative energy fused with equestrian magic the sirens wanted to use for themselves. Sunset Shimmer tells the girls what they’re unintentionally doing, and gets everyone to work together again. Soon The Rainbooms are performing their counter spell song, yet they aren’t quite strong enough to beat the sirens. They ask Sunset Shimmer for help, and she gains equestrian magic herself, getting a half pony form of her own, and helps everyone triumph against the sirens.
The credits roll, and we see a final scene with an Equestria Girls Twilight (who originally lived in this world), and her dog Spike. She talks about how Canterlot High has something suspicious going on, and the film officially ends.
One thing that drove me nuts is how the main cast has magical powers. Twilight says that she believes the school stored some of the magic from her crown, but the sirens say that the girls had the magic, so which is it? There are so many inconsistencies, like how the girls say that they only get their half-pony forms by playing music together, but the shorts have all of them playing by themselves. The real kicker is when Applejack wonders out loud just how their powers work anyway, and Rainbow Dash says, “Who cares why it happens? It makes my band totally awesome!” …Really? That’s our answer? There’s no explanation given at all as to why anyone has powers, or how Sunset Shimmer gains powers.
Another point the film brushes off is whether or not the sirens were ever really sirens at all. Their half pony forms look more like fairies, while their pony forms look more like merponies. When The Rainbooms win over the sirens, they destroyed the pendants the sirens wore. Losing their hypnotic powers over people might make some sense, yet they completely lose their ability to sing. How does that work? Sirens are born with the ability to sing, how would losing magic cause their vocal chords to change?
As far as tropes go, there was really only one that was irritating. Sadly, Flash Sentry still exists. He’s in the movie for a total of three minutes. He only adds awkward romantic tension, and insults Sunset Shimmer. I’m just glad he was kept to a minimum, considering nothing has been gained or lost with his relationship with Twilight.
The most frustrating thing about the movie is how everyone treats Sunset Shimmer. I understand that she was the previous villain in the series, but everyone in the movie takes a moment to insult her. It’s realistic that students at the school wouldn’t trust her, but for Flash to literally shout, “That’s the bad girl we love to hate” at her is ridiculous. The girls from the main cast even make passive aggressive remarks to her (including Twilight) about how evil she was. I thought by the end of the first movie the girls agreed to help teach Sunset Shimmer about friendship, so why are they shaming her? By the end of the film, Rainbow Dash mentions that Sunset Shimmer can join her band as a backup singer, but then Sunset Shimmer picks up a guitar and starts playing like a professional, and meekly comments that she can play guitar too. Why on earth wasn’t she allowed to play in the band, especially since Twilight joined and she couldn’t even play an instrument? None of Twilight’s counter spell songs worked, and by the end of the movie they needed her help anyway, it’s almost like the film is insulting Sunset Shimmer at this point. The part that really drives me crazy is that Twilight hardly did anything in this movie, yet she’s the one who’s considered a greater friend.
Throughout the story, Sunset Shimmer kept the group organized, arguably better than Twilight did. She realized the sirens were using evil magic before she realized they weren’t normal high school students, she contacted Twilight to help, and she stopped the group from giving the sirens more power when they started arguing (as Twilight had a mental breakdown). There’s even a scene where Twilight and Sunset Shimmer bond about how people’s expectations tend to overshadow a person, and yet nothing ever becomes of it. If the girls didn’t need Sunset Shimmer’s powers, I don’t think the group would have accepted her as a good friend by the end of the film.
Maybe I wouldn’t be as annoyed with the film if it had as much care put into it as the shows do. If the music was better it could have been pleasant to watch. There was some thought put into it (like the punk elements in the song, “Awesome As I Wanna Be”), and even some of the characters have more complex styles than cookie cutter models. With the few references and characters from the show added to this film, the movie is a bit more enjoyable. I can’t really say it’s better or worse than the first film, just that they’ve both been made for cash flow. Maybe by the third movie they’ll add more of a story instead of just flair.