• Member Since 14th Jan, 2016
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Vena1


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  • 269 weeks
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    Okay, let’s do this. I’ve already posted my initial impressions of Legend of Everfree during several discussions in forums/comments sections where we were talking about it, but those are just initial impressions. Sometimes what you think of something new changes a bit as it sets in, or with subsequent viewings. And it did, I guess, but not by very much. It wasn’t bad. I mean, it wasn’t great. It

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    5 comments · 351 views
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    1 comments · 269 views
Oct
3rd
2016

Legend of Everfree Review (Spoiler Warning) · 6:05pm Oct 3rd, 2016

Okay, let’s do this. I’ve already posted my initial impressions of Legend of Everfree during several discussions in forums/comments sections where we were talking about it, but those are just initial impressions. Sometimes what you think of something new changes a bit as it sets in, or with subsequent viewings. And it did, I guess, but not by very much. It wasn’t bad. I mean, it wasn’t great. It was kind of…oh, how can I sum this up quickly and easily? It was…

It was very Batman v Superman. Yeah, that’s it. It was the Batman v Superman of the Equestria Girls series. Not bad, actually very enjoyable in some respects when it did things well, but not really good either. It was fun enough to recommend, but really felt like wasted potential. Let’s start with some pros and cons:



Pros:
- Timber Spruce.
- The Humane Seven’s powers.
- Twilight’s personal dilemma.
- The mystery of Gaea Everfree.
- Filthy Rich trying to shut down Camp Everfree.
- Flash Sentry’s continuing journey into not only becoming a legitimate character, but one that’s actually kind of relatable and likable.
- There were some cool new designs. I particularly liked Gloriosa Everfree and the girls’ dresses for the fashion show and fundraiser.
- The animation maintains the trend of improving (or at least not declining) with each film.
- There were some fun little interactions with/between the supporting cast.

Cons:
- Timber Spruce.
- The Humane Seven’s powers.
- Twilight’s personal dilemma.
- The mystery of Gaea Everfree.
- Filthy Rich trying to shut down Camp Everfree.

Huh. There seems to be a bit of intermixing between pro and con here. Allow me to elaborate:

Timber Spruce

Timber was, admittedly, more of a character than Flash Sentry was in the first movie. That’s a positive. On the down side, that’s not exactly a huge hurdle to overcome and I still felt like he was horribly underdeveloped as any kind of lasting love interest. Make no mistake, I didn’t dislike Flash and I don’t dislike Timber. I just feel that they’re making the same basic mistake when it comes to trying to give Twilight a new love interest (and no, that mistake isn’t “Because that love interest isn’t a pony/EG version of Vena1"): They don’t give us enough time to get to know and like the character beforehand.

If we’d had a Flash Sentry pony occasionally popping up as someone that Twilight had a crush on throughout the series (or heck, even throughout the season leading up to EG), then I think it would have been received much better. No doubt there would still be plenty of people who hated it purely because “OMG TWILIGHT BELONGS WITH ME/WHATEVER CHARACTER I SHIP HER WITH OMGWTFBBQ!!1!!1!!!!” However, in general I think it would have gone over better with the fandom. The main issue there, at least for me, was that it was so random and out of nowhere. There was no reason for me to want these characters to get together, or even if I didn’t want them to get together, no reason for me to think it was plausible or get invested.

Timber Spruce has much the same problem. He’s a bit more developed than Flash was, but we still don’t have enough time to get to know him. “Well,” the hypothetical person reading this blog might say, “It’s just a silly crush. You can’t expect it to be some long, drawn-out relationship beforehand.” That’s true. It was also true for Flash Sentry. The fact that Timber actually did a little more direct flirting doesn’t change that, much like Flash, he and Twilight really didn’t get to know that much about each other before they started crushing on one another, and the film ended with them still not getting to know that much about each other while still crushing on one another.

Honestly, I don’t dislike either pairing. In the same way that I really don’t have any problem with Flash or Timber, I have nothing against TwilightxFlash or TwilightxTimber. I just don’t have any real investment in them either, and feel like it was just tacked on because they wanted the character to have a love interest because, well, that’s what happens in high school movies. And that just feels like the writer’s are being lazy and ticking off boxes on a high school movie checklist.

What I do have a problem with is that in this case, it actually hurts the movie even more than the TwilightxFlash crush hurt the first one. I’ll elaborate on that in a moment after addressing a few other plot points that relate to the same problem.

The Humane Seven’s Powers

Good lord, there were some fun moments here. Their powers going haywire and causing all sorts of ridiculous problems. Their overcompensating attempts to avoid triggering those powers and the silly moments that ensue, like Rainbow walking everywhere with ridiculously slow and measured steps, or AJ just kind of tapping at the nails with the hammer. Some of the legitimately enjoyable character moments that came up between Sunset and Sci Twi as the former continues to take on a sort of mentor role much like Twilight did for her, with her empathy-based powers finally getting down to the bottom of things. It also made for some pretty cool and creative scenes during the battle with Gloriosa Everfree. Also, on a related note, it was fun to see a little variation in how magic is used through Gloriosa’s nature-based powers. Not to mention that the brief glimpse into Pinkie Pie’s mind was just glorious.

Unfortunately, it was dragged down by the fact that this was basically nothing but a movie-long attempt to lead into the next movie, and one that may very well have ruined any mystery or excitement in that regard. Much like with my point on Timber, more on that in a moment.

Twilight’s Personal Dilemma

I would just like to start off by saying how much I love that this movie actually took the time to address this with Sci Twi. We got a bit of it during Rainbow Rocks during the moments where the movie addressed Sunset’s past, but for the most part that movie was focused on her redemption rather than her inner struggles. And that’s not a bad thing. I actually think that both films handled their issues with their past in the best way they could for each character. After all, while both of them did have similar situations in that they were driven over the edge by magic, they also had very different lives that led to that point.

Sunset wanted to use that magic to sate her own greed and hunger for power. She might not have realized just how far she was willing to go and regretted it upon having that realization, but her entire goal was to enslave innocent people as a personal army to overthrow her former home. Never mind that this revolution was just her overall goal, and that she was a completely and utterly horrible person during her time and CHS leading up to that moment. Sunset was a pretty selfish and malicious person even before putting on the crown, and it seems as though having all that power and being turned into a genuine monster (and being defeated via the giant rainbow of love and friendship) was what triggered her to take a good, long look at herself and realize what she’d become. When Rainbow Rocks began, we already knew that she was feeling insanely guilty, and because she was so horrible even before that point, it made sense that the focus on her character wasn’t about focusing on her mistakes, but instead about trying to be a better person and trying to show everyone she’d wronged that she was making a genuine effort to become a better person.

Sci Twi, on the other hand, was a legitimately good kid before the magic overwhelmed her. She was a bit of a recluse, and she didn’t understand much about friendship, but she wasn’t especially cruel, selfish, or otherwise unpleasant. We even see her attempt to connect with others at a few points (such as when she attempts to greet Sugarcoat), but that she’s just really bad at it and lives in an environment that makes it hard for her to do so. Heck, she even gets a big song about believing that there must be more out there than her school, and how she genuinely wants to figure out who she is but – due to her experiences in Crystal Prep – thinks that the best way to do it must be on her own. Even when she ends up hurting the Humane Six during the games, it’s entirely accidental due to ignorance. So much in the same way that it makes sense for Sunset’s personal journey in Rainbow Rocks to focus on her attempts redeem herself for her past behavior, it also makes sense that Twilight’s guilt is driven by a fear of trying to tamper with something she doesn’t understand. So having the movie actually focus on her fear of magic and fighting with the alter ego that turned her passion for learning into something horrible was a great idea.

Unfortunately…well, again, I’ll get to it in a moment.

The Mystery of Gaea Everfree & Filthy Rich

On the one hand, I really enjoyed that almost Scooby-Doo sort of feel that this had at times. It was actually a nice little mystery that didn’t completely give away what was going on (even throwing in a little red herring with Timber), even if a few hints seemed more obvious than others. It helps that in this world, it’s entirely possible that something like Gaea Everfree could exist.

After all, some of the implications in previous movies indicate that magic in this world likely didn’t originate with Twilight bringing over the crown. The portal existed long before Twilight, and Celestia’s comment in Equestria Girls about how Twilight will soon know more about the other world than her does kind of imply that Celestia at least knows something about that world and might have visited before. Likewise, while Equestrian magic obviously wasn’t very prominent in the human world, the Dazzlings’ pendants are said to absorb magic/energy – so even if it isn’t the same kind of magic, it’s clear that there’s some manner of spiritual or supernatural energy in the human world since they were able to absorb it in the same way. So even though Timber’s story about Gaea Everfree took place well before the EG series, there are enough implications in the film that Equestrian magic has been around longer than the movies (or that the human world has some form of magic itself) that it’s entirely plausible that she could be a legit magical creature.

So it makes for a nice little mystery that really works well for a summer camp type of story, especially one that takes place in a world where magical creatures have popped up before, even if they aren’t exactly common. This also allows the story arc revolving around Filthy Rich’s attempts to shut the camp down – which is a pretty typical summer camp type of story – to fit into the mystery really well, since it adds an extra layer of uncertainty to who is responsible for the strange things going on at the camp. That said, it’s also dragged down by…wait, I don’t need to say I’ll get to it in a moment, because that moment is here.

Batman v Superman…ing

I’m sure the point has caught on by now, but for the sake of simplicity I’ll just sum up what all of the problems I’ve talked about ultimately mean to me: This movie is seventy-three minutes long. It does not have the time for all of these different plots, and it shows in the final product when the constant fight for screen time between plot points drags the story down. They tried to fit a story about a summer camp romance, a story about saving the camp from closing, a mystery story about a magical creature (with a red herring subplot focused on Timber), a story about the girls developing magical powers (continuing the previous sort-of-answered plot from the prior movies), and a story about Twilight’s internal struggle with her mistakes in the previous movie into less than seventy-three minutes.

There isn’t enough room in this movie for that many different plots and subplots. One or two of those would have been fine, and even would have meshed really well together. A story about saving a summer camp from closing down while one of the kids developed a crush on someone at the camp? That would have worked fine. A story about the girls continuing to develop magical powers, and the personal dilemma that this created with Twilight due to her bad past experience with magic? That would have worked fine. A mystery about a magical creature and the question of who might be behind it? That would have worked fine. There are plenty of other combinations of these story arcs that would have blended really well together and made for a fun and interesting movie, but not all of them at the same time. At the very least, they really should have tried to reduce the significance of a few of them a bit so that we could have a clear central story to focus on with a few subplots.

Yet they attempted to cram all of them into a single movie while giving several of them the kind of focus you need to reserve for the main story arc, and it went much the way of Batman v Superman as a result. It wasn’t bad, and actually had a lot of genuinely fun moments. But they tried to tell too many stories, and as a result all of those stories felt like they received far too little attention to live up to their potential. The movie was just too unfocused. One of the central plot elements that basically drove the entire story – that the camp wasn’t making its payments and Filthy Rich was going to shut it down – was more or less resolved as nothing but a side note mentioned during the party at the end with a bit of off-hand dialogue. It was the entire motivation for everything Gloriosa did (and had a direct impact on the multiple subplots that tied into Gloriosa’s actions), and the only resolution was “Let’s hold a fundraiser. Oh, we held the fundraiser and it worked.” That’s it. Show’s over.

Yet another one of the main elements of the plot – the girls developing more magical powers and why it was happening – blatantly wasn’t even intended to be resolved in the film. It was clearly intended as nothing but a movie-long intro to the next EG story. Worse, they revealed what was causing it to the audience by showing the magic seep through the statue that Midnight Sparkle blasted with the magic that was opening holes between their worlds. When the next movie comes around, we’ll already know where the magic is coming from. Meaning that unless they immediately have the cast figure it out in the next movie, then there won’t even be any mystery or excitement when they try to figure it out – it will just be the audience sitting around waiting for the cast to discover what the last movie already told us was happening. Not only did it serve as another wandering plot point battling for screen time, but it basically made it so the inevitable “investigation” that we’ll get in the next round will probably end up being more dull and grating than exciting or interesting.

So, as bizarre as feels to say it…the movie was more enjoyable than EG1, but the story really wasn’t as good. Legend of Everfree certainly experimented more with its material, and was a lot more fun to watch, but it’s actual story was a convoluted mess of plots and subplots desperately fighting for attention. Equestria Girls might have been a generic, cliché, by-the-books story that didn’t really bring much (if anything) new to the table, but in terms of actual storytelling it did a better job by keeping it simple, focusing on a particular story arc with a couple of subplots, and seeing those plots through to the end. Even the romance subplot with Flash worked a bit better into the story, because it was barebones enough that the romance subplot at least wasn't cutting into a more relevant story arc. Basically, it feels like Legend of Everfree look at the problems with Equestria Girls, but in its attempts to avoid those mistakes ended up overcompensating and making an entirely different set of mistakes while giving the boot to the few strengths that the first film actually had.

Come on, writers, just look at how you handled Rainbow Rocks and keep doing that. It was a simple story with a clear focus, but maintained that simplicity and focus without relying on bland tropes and clichés to carry it forward. It didn’t throw a handful of generic high school stories into the script and expect that to be enough for a good story, but it didn’t throw a million different competing plot threads into a cage match for screen time in a desperate effort to avoid being generic and boring. It took a few very simple story concepts (The Dazzlings as the new central conflict, and a nice little sub-plot about the former antagonist trying to redeem herself), focused on making those concepts fun and relatable, and saw them through to their conclusion.

And no, that's not to say that any story with a lot of different plots and subplots is automatically bad, or that a simple story is automatically good. It's just that simpler stories - or at least stories that know which of their many plots to focus on and which to relegate to sub-plot territory - tend to work better for film. If you're writing a new Lord of the Rings trilogy, the next season of Game of Thrones, the next Final Fantasy game, or something like that then by all means, throw a truckload of competing plots into the mix. When you're working with forms of media like full length novels, television shows, and games, they can really benefit from having a lot of complexity, because they have much more time to work those in without things getting messy and unfocused. When you're working with something that doesn't have as much time like a movie, limited-run television series (I'm looking at you, Legend of Korra - Book One), or a short story, you probably aren't going to have that advantage. You need to know how to either simplify the story but cutting things that aren't necessary or prioritize which aspects of the story need the most focus and which can probably be shifted to the background.

TL;DR Version: The movie tried too hard to avoid being a generic summer camp story (much like Equestria Girls was a generic high school story), but overcompensated by trying to shove far too many stories into a limited runtime. It was more fun to watch than, say, Equestria Girls, but actually had worse storytelling. It wasn’t the worst of the four films, but the lack of focus seriously dragged it down. While this and The Friendship Games were still more enjoyable to watch than Equestria Girls, they’ve both managed to convince me that the series peaked with Rainbow Rocks. Here’s to hoping that the inevitable fifth movie – which I can only pray won’t focus on them trying to investigate where the magic is coming from, since this movie went ahead and just showed the audience already – will manage to find that balance again.

Comments ( 5 )

I think that people are reading too much into TimberLight. Two of the three romantic subplots for the movie exist solely to drive a stake through the heart of FlashLight, which has likely been a corporate objective ever since Flash's cameo in Three's A Crowd led the fandom to nearly burn the Internet down in fury. What's the third? RariJack - Whether or not the writers intended it, TLoE is very RariJack hint-heavy.

Once you set aside this, Timber is the sensible and normal one who is being dragged along in the wake of events far beyond his ability to influence or control. He is only a secondary/backing character so you don't really need much characterisation except where it is needed to help the audience follow Sunset's suspicions about him. On the flip side, they did just enough (with Timber being the nerd/sporty to offset Twilight's nerd/shut-in) to make having him as a regular background character plausible if a bit ik if they want to continue the ship (he's got to be 5 years older than her at the very least; Twilight Velvet and Nightlight would be entirely justified to call him a cradle robber and chase him off with sharp implements).

I see your points, although the Rarijack thing I noticed little of mostly because I wasn't too fond of this movie's Rarity.
I mean, I feel she was WAY over the top in this movie. For Celestia's sake, the way she went on about wanting a fashion show in the middle of the woods...even pony Rarity knew better then that! The others characters told her that she was being an idiot, so maybe she could take their cues, but no, she just ignored them and kept along her merry way. We get it: Rarity is a fashionista, but LoE cranked it up to eleven and I hated every second of whenever they had her act all obsessed like that. Her campfire story, in my opinion, was ridiculous, irritating, and NOT FUNNY. (I know that it was supposed to be ridiculous, but they did in a way that absolutely grated on me. :twilightangry2: So, 99% of the time she was either being whiny or suddenly a complete fashion addict (I mean, like I said before I know that Rarity is a fashionista and that it is her passion, but they really over did it in this one) Although I did warm up to her a bit when she played an active role in the climax, but...well, I really needed to get that off my chest. What did you think of LoE Rarity?

4240997
I think the novel mentioned he was a teen.

4420513

In general, I tend to take it a little easier on the EQG characters with things like that. Despite the similarities in their basic personalities and traits, they are very different people who have lived in and through very different circumstances. In Rarity's case, the equestrian Rarity is an adult who lives on her own, runs her own business, occasionally seems to take care of her little sister when her parents aren't around, and has gone through a number of major crises (both in terms of personal struggles and large scale threats to her country). The human Rarity, on the other hand, is still a teenager (presumably around 17-18 years old), presumably still lives with her parents, and seems to make clothes entirely for her entertainment and for her friends as opposed to using it to make a living.

So while it might be grating in some ways because they're similar enough that it seems like they're dumbing them down to caricatures, it's a lot less so when I stop to remember that they're much younger and less experienced than their counterparts in Equestria. Those exaggerations come off as considerably more reasonable to me when taking into consideration that they Humane Seven (excluding Sunset, who spent most of her life in Equestria and is presumably a little older than the others in terms of emotional/intellectual development, even if her human body is still a teenager's) would have very different priorities and attitudes towards things than the Mane Six, even if only due to their age. Nevermind the differences that come from having had little more to worry about than normal teenager problems until the the last year or so.

That said, the "scary story" thing bugged me, but mostly because the joke was already done (and done much better) in the main series. In LoE, Rarity seems to think it was a legit scary story and is overly dramatic about it. When they did the same joke in Equestria, it seemed like she was fully aware that it was just a silly (and not particularly scary) story because of her reaction afterwards. Instead of treating it like it was actually meant to be frightening, when Dash asks her what happened next, she responds with a dull and disinterested "I just told you, Darling. A mannequin came to life and haunted all the costumes." Then Pinkie does her typical exaggerated "scared" reaction where she flops on her side/back like a goat. It was funny, at least to me, because Rarity seemed to be fully aware that it wasn't really a scary story and she was basically just playing along for the sake of having fun at their get-together, as opposed to legitimately freaking out at the idea of haunted mannequins, and because Pinkie followed it by still doing her "frightened" gimmick despite Rarity obviously just going through the motions for the fun of it.

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