The release of the 2013 theatrical film My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, set in an alternate dimension in which the characters from the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic television series have biped counterparts who attend Canterlot High, resulted in a shortened and rather disjointed third season of Magic. As such, it’s fair (but no less frustrating) that this October’s big-budget My Little Pony: The Movie, set in the Magic universe, has resulted in this year’s Equestria Girls movie being the average-length but still rather disjointed Magical Movie Night. It’s comprised of three episode-length segments, each with its own title card: “Dance Magic,” “Movie Magic,” and “Mirror Magic.”
In “Dance Magic,” Rarity (Tabitha St. Germain) enters the Rainbooms in a music-video contest as a fundraiser to repair Camp Everfree, pitting them against Sci-Twi’s former classmates from Crystal Prep who were first introduced in 2015’s My Little Pony: Equestria Girls — Friendship Games. It’s the best of the three, and not just because Rarity is the best, but because it picks up directly from the events of the two previous films. Games is established in dialog as having taken place just a few months earlier, and the damage caused to Camp Everfree during 2016’s My Little Pony: Equestria Girls — Legend of Everfree directly motivates the action of “Dance Magic.”
The Equestria Girls films shine like rainbows when focusing on their own universe’s characters, which is why “Movie Magic” is the weakest, leaning heavily as it does on the weak yet Brony-beloved Friendship Is Magic episodes “Daring Don’t” and “Power Ponies.” The Rainbooms are invited onto the set of the long-awaited Daring Do motion picture for no real reason other than because the segment’s plot requires them to track down a mysterious figure sabotaging the production.
While it’s charming that the film-within-the-film’s director is a dead ringer for the recently passed George A. Romero — may we suggest Romero’s 1978 Martin as a double feature with Magical Movie Night? — the segment is wasted on action, plot mechanics, and Brony-pandering. The closest thing to character development is Rainbow Dash (Ashleigh Ball) acting like an entitled fan with no boundaries, but already we knew that about her, and it’s her least-endearing quality.
The only saving grace of “Movie Magic” is that it sets up “Mirror Magic,” which finds the Rainbooms at the Daring Do premiere, facing off against the now magically enhanced saboteur. The biped-drunk-on-Equestrian-magic villain has started feeling rote after Games and Everfree, but so are laser-horn battles against villains attempting to steal the Alicorn Princesses’ powers on Friendship Is Magic — and the upcoming My Little Pony: The Movie looks like it’s going to dip into that well yet again.
Though not as solid as “Dance Magic,” “Mirror Magic” redeems itself by focusing on Sunset Shimmer (Rebecca Shoichet), who has been forgiven for her past sins but who’s still tortured by anxiety, self-doubt, and the lingering knowledge that everything bad that has happened in the biped world is ultimately her fault (and thus her responsibility).
Magical Movie Night plays more like a three-part television pilot than a cohesive movie, and while I would be thrilled to see an Equestria Girls series — and not just because of the sputtering rage and anguished wails of “B-b-but it’s not what we want!” such a thing would foment among many Bronies — Night does not bode entirely well, though one could hope it would prove to be more “Dance Magic” than “Movie Magic.” We’ll see how it goes next year after the dust settles from My Little Pony: The Movie.
My Little Pony: Equestria Girls — Magical Movie Night