My Little Pony: Equestria Girls - Rainbow Rocks
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This is the second movie in the Equestria Girls franchise, and is set between seasons four and five of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. It had a limited theatrical release in September 2014, with a DVD release and TV airing in October. However, I didn't see it until June 2015 (after DVR'ing a repeat TV broadcast on May 30). It was on May 30 that I finally got around to watching the online shorts that had originally been released in spring 2014, several months prior to the movie's release. I was aware before watching this movie that it had been much better received than the first movie, but when I did finally see the second movie, I thought at first that it was pretty much equal in quality to the first. After awhile, though, I started thinking it was about 20% cooler than the original.
It begins with a scene in a diner (or café), in the human world. There's a low-lying mysterious green mist, which no one seems to notice, but it turns out to be the negative energy emitted by the people in the diner. And it had been caused by the humming of three girls, who absorb that energy. Their names are Adagio Dazzle, Sonata Dusk, and Aria Blaze (though I don't think I ever heard Aria's name spoken in the movie, and I only ever heard Adagio and Sonata's first names, so... thanks, internet). Adagio is the leader, and the other two just spend most of their time bickering with each other. There's not much I can say specifically about any of them, except that Sonata is kind of ditzy (like an evil version of Pinkie Pie, I thought). Anyway, we soon learn that they'd been banished from Equestria, and they were all annoyed that their powers are much weaker in this world, since there isn't much magic here. But then they leave the diner, and spot an explosion of Equestrian magic in the distance, and immediately Adagio begins plotting how to use that to regain their full power. (Presumably, the magic they saw was caused by the battle at the end of the first movie, so I don't really understand why it takes so long for them to put their plan into motion. I mean, I assume that when the main part of the movie begins, at least several months have passed since the first movie. But it's kind of unclear.)
We then see Twilight's human friends from Canterlot High preparing for their school's upcoming musical showcase. Sometime between movies, Rainbow Dash had started a band called the Rainbooms, along with Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Fluttershy, and Rarity. They're also hanging out with Sunset Shimmer, the villain from the first movie, who is now their friend. However, the rest of the school hasn't forgiven her for her prior evil actions, and she's gone from being queen bee to a total pariah. Even her new friends frequently reference her past, before adding "no offense." (I felt bad for her every time, because they clearly don't notice how hurt she is, and how grudging her replies of "none taken" always are.) Anyway, Principal Celestia has asked Sunset Shimmer to show some new girls around the school, and of course they turn out to be Adagio, Sonata, and Aria. And Sunset immediately realizes there's something "off" about them, but she can't put her finger on it. However, the new girls immediately go about draining negative energy from all the students. Sunset and her friends, however, aren't affected, because they possess some lingering magic from Twilight Sparkle. They see what the new girls are doing, and try to warn Principal Celestia and Vice Principal Luna, but Adagio and the others had already cast a spell on them, and they agreed with the villains' plan to turn the musical showcase into a battle of the bands.
While our heroes realize they should contact Twilight for help, they've no idea how, since the portal between worlds won't open for a long time. But Sunset has a book she used to use to contact Princess Celestia, when she had been her apprentice. She tries writing a message for Celestia in the book, and the scene switches to Equestria, where a shipment of books has arrived for Twilight, from Celestia. This includes the book where the message from Sunset now appears. Twilight guesses that the new villains are actually a trio of Sirens (who in Equestria looked like hippocamps) who had been banished long ago by Star Swirl the Bearded. (Which makes me wonder why they're teenagers now, and why they're even still alive. But I'm guessing maybe they've been able to drain enough energy to make them young and immortal, on top of using it to control people's minds. Then again, none of the respective ages of any of the human counterparts of Equestrian characters makes much sense.) Anyway, Twilight quickly builds some complicated thingy she can use to transfer the magic from the book into the portal mirror, which will allow her to travel between worlds whenever she wants. Once again, her friends want to accompany her, and once again, only Spike can go with her. She reunites with her human friends, and explains the situation. And Rainbow Dash informs her that every time they play their instruments, the lingering Equestrian magic from Twilight's previous visit causes them to grow pony ears and tails (and the counterparts of the Pegasus ponies get wings, though I didn't really notice whether the Unicorn ponies got horns). Anyway, the six of them try to use the power of friendship to defeat the villains right away, but it doesn't work. So Twilight decides to write a counter-spell as a song they can perform at the battle of the bands, since their magic is now apparently tied to their music. However, she has trouble with this... and it was pretty clear that she should ask Sunset for help, but it took a lot longer for her to realize that than it should have.
Anyway, there are a bunch of different bands that will be competing, and they're all very aggressive about it, due to the Sirens' mind control. One of the bands is led by Flash Sentry, though his aggressiveness isn't as bad as that of the other students, because he's happy to see Twilight again. (Incidentally, I've been kind of disappointed that we've barely seen any of his pony counterpart on the show, since the first movie came out, and no hint of romance between him and Twilight. But while watching this movie, it occurred to me that pony-Flash and human-Flash are in fact two different people, as are all the human/pony counterparts. So if Twilight had a thing for human-Flash, that doesn't necessarily mean she should hook up with pony-Flash. Then again, Twilight is really a pony, so it doesn't make sense for her to be with human-Flash, either. And... I need to stop thinking about this, now.) We also see a (mercifully) brief rap performance by human Snips and Snails, who are pretty awful. Of course, the main competition for the Rainbooms will be the Sirens' band, the Dazzlings, though there's also some serious competition from a band led by Trixie (the human counterpart of a villain from a couple episodes of the show). I thought she was one of the best minor parts of the movie, as were a few even smaller cameos, like the human counterparts of Maud Pie and Big Mac.
Throughout the preparations and practice for the battle of the bands (which takes place in various rounds over a few days, apparently), there is increasing infighting between the five members of the Rainbooms. Twilight doesn't even notice this, because she's too preoccupied with her own frustration over her inability to successfully write a counter-spell. So, in the final round of the competition, the Dazzlings very nearly succeed in their evil plot to drain the powerful negative energy fueled by the Rainbooms' Equestrian magic. However, Sunset realizes what's going on, and convinces the Rainbooms to set aside their petty squabbles and start acting more like friends (which is ironic, considering she'd been the one to temporarily break up their friendship, in the first movie). In the end, the Rainbooms get some help from the human counterpart of DJ Pon-3, and manage to defeat the Dazzlings. Sunset also plays a big part in that battle, and joins the band. Twilight and Spike then return to Equestria, but Twilight tells her friends she'll be able to visit whenever she wants. And Sunset begins corresponding with Twilight via the book, which reminds me very much of how Twilight herself used to correspond with Celestia, throughout the first few seasons of the show. So, yeah... the movie has lots of cool feels.
Also, Wikipedia mentions a post-credits scene that I didn't get to see on TV, but I did eventually see it on DVD. And it was pretty cool, I thought. Really look forward to seeing it followed up, hopefully, in future movies....