It appears the Equestria Girls spin-off series will be a yearly event, which is absolutely a good idea. Anyone who knows me knows that I detest stories set in high schools, because 99% of the time they’re garbage. But MLP manages to rise above cliches and tell quality stories. The Friendship Games is no exception. Rainbow Rocks was a quality sequel to the first film. I personally felt the first was more exciting, but the sequel had some fine moments. The latest entry finally addresses what’s been wondered about since the first movie: what’s going with that world’s Twilight Sparkle. Games is a compelling story with few negatives. Though, the few negatives are rather noticeable. The climax is almost an exact repeat of the first film’s, though thankfully manages to have enough compelling content to avoid being called a complete rehash.
Here’s the official description from Discovery Family:
Canterlot High contends against rival school, Crystal Prep Academy, in The Friendship Games. Sunset Shimmer and friends compete against Crystal Prep’s top students led by someone with equal interest in Equestrian magic, this world’s TWILIGHT SPARKLE.
As I’ve stated in the review for Rainbow Rocks, Sunset Shimmer has emerged has one of the most engaging characters of the entire franchise. The fact that she’s basically the face of Equestria Girls is pretty cool and she definitely deserves it. The story features yet another competition, but to keep it from being too much like Rainbow Rocks this time we have schools competing against each other. Canterlot High has to deal with…Crystal Prep. It’s definitely great to see the EG version of the Crystal Empire. Though, this leads us to our first negative. Every student in Crystal Prep is so mean to the point of being funny. I get it: most of the students in the school aren’t very nice, or rather “full of meanies” as Fluttershy calls them. But it goes just way too overboard. Really, Cadance saying that Twilight maybe shouldn’t go away on an “independent study program” doesn’t make sense if the former would simply see the way the latter is treated there.
Since we’re still in Crystal Prep, let’s talk about another substantial negative, perhaps the biggest: Principal Cinch. She’s so cartoonishly evil I had to question what I was watching in some scenes. For example, she literally blackmails Twilight, forcing her to compete in the games otherwise the application for the study program will be rejected. Not only is this wrong, but this is police matter worthy. Why doesn’t Twilight bring this up with Cadance at least? It was such a painful scene and Cinch even gets a cringe-worthy song to herself. Worst antagonist of the series goes to Principal Cinch.
Each of the Mane 6 has adequate moments. Pinkie Pie is used for almost half the movie as annoying comic relief sadly, but the party cannon scene makes up for it. The actual Friendship Games was fun to watch for the most part. Though, this leads us to a glaring plot hole: the giant plant monster. This thing is literally summoned and no one in the audience treats it like a big deal. In this world stuff like that doesn’t happen, so it didn’t make sense that no one would be completely shocked. It’s the same with Spike talking: there’s just too much taking in stride. Twilight entering Canterlot High then everyone recognizing her and she not knowing why was nicely done. Of course when Flash Sentry arrives there is awkwardness and misunderstandings. This happens twice, then it’s bizarrely dropped by the end. I suppose it’ll be explored in the next film, but for right now it feels like a forgotten plot point.
It might sound like the film is more on the negative side, but it’s not. It’s just these negatives are very noticeable. The film still packs great dialogue, character moments, and an exciting climax. Interestingly, as stated the final act retreads a lot of the first Equestria Girls ending. We have a magic-crazed character whom never knew the meaning of friendship but is shown the right way of doing things. It’s rehashing ground that is ultimately saved by two things. Number 1: Sunset’s Shimmer’s great dialogue which incredibly sums up what the entire franchise is about. And number 2: the epic climax. Not only do we have hardcore Sailor Moon-like transformations, but an actual fight. It’s so awesome that it almost feels out of place with the rest of the movie.
Overall, Friendship Games is another quality installment in the Equestria Girls series. While having a few negatives which hold it back from being near perfect, it still contains fantastic characters, dialogue, and an exciting climax. Sunset Shimmer is a great focus and the rest of the ponies have their appropriate moments. The soundtrack features nicely done songs throughout. Crystal Prep as a school is rather unrealistic, which is mainly thanks to the painful-to-watch Principal Cinch. (I’m telling you, it’s almost as if there’s no police system in pony or EG world.) One of the endgame morals is that one shouldn’t always have to rely on others; we often gotta look for and discover things ourselves.