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[Review] It's a Pony Kind of Christmas (Track 1)

*Cracks knuckles* So let's begin with track 1: It's a Pony Kind of Christmas! First off, I need to get this out of the way... I know this is a theme album based around the most popular December holiday of Christmas, and I'm sure making "Hearthswarming" work instead would have been a daunting task, but still... as a theme album... I'd really liked to see more Hearthswarming than Christmas. This will be the last you'll hear of that! So... this is a very generic tone of a Christmas song. That isn't bad, and the arrangement is unique and rather good. Combining many common threads of Christmas music, including choir style vocals, marching drums, folk instruments and bells. In fact the first time I listened it bothered me because it sounded like a cover. But it is more complicated than that.... This is an ORIGINAL song with a MEDLEY of homages to popular music, which is done rather tastefully, and masterfully with smooth transitions. It brought me back to an unused song from the second EQG movie, Pony through the ages (or something, I honestly don't remember and it isn't important to this review in particular). The reason why I bring it up, is because I felt that that was a poor use of transitions where they felt clunky and at times out of place, while here they felt far more organic and smooth. Pinkie's movement was a bit jarring, but they intentionally did that to escalate the song to the climax. As for some technical things, the instruments, being computer generated for the most part don't always sound natural. And that isn't a bad thing usually, they use samples. What ends up happening is that the decay of resonance doesn't always match real world. Some instruments like bells which are often muted to avoid overtones it works. But other instruments like the marching drum sound artificial at times, not resonating where I would expect them to. The guitar and other string instruments have some exceedingly good samples though and at times I was taken aback by the quality making me thing they had the actual instruments. Personally I'd be curious if they did have any of the actual instruments, but I somehow doubt it. Either way, the samples Ingram has loaded on his workflow station are fantastic, and I'm not overly bothered. They are noteworthy but not debilitating as they sometimes can be. (this will also probably be brought up again across all the songs of the album, but it isn't really Ingram's fault, as it would be hard to get a full band to record an album like this) The vocals, are great. They clearly recorded together, and the choiresque style of the vocals with uplifting harmonies just work so incredibly well. Even the three solos that played homage to more popular songs. And I'm sure this was intentional, but the solos were basically teasers for future songs on the album. I'm quite frankly not sure how to feel about that. On the one hand it is a cute way to wet the appetite of listeners, especially since they are different from the arrangements used in the actual songs. On the other hand, I feel like they could have used something else to fill those moments. But it isn't something I'll put too much thought into or really criticize the song over. Really, as an introduction into a Pony Christmas Album, this did it's job and it did it's job well. Did it have issues but it did what it needed to do. Overall I'd give the song a 7/10. It is good, not great, but good.

starswirlthebearded

starswirlthebearded

 

Christmas Album review series

Alright... So this is just my introductory post for a series that I'll be working on and hopefully completing before Christmas (or Hearthswarming) Day. I need to make a few disclaimers. First off, I am a lifelong musician, having played in concert bands, rock bands, and jazz bands. I am a percussionist, and have taken music theory and several other classes in music as part of my musical upbringing. Because of this I'll be very attentive to the arrangements, meter, tempo and transitions. Granted, I do not thing that will be an issue because Ingram and Andrews both excel at those things. Second, I currently work in retail, and have an automatic displeasure for Christmas music. It comes with the territory. I'm really hoping that the differences in this being a pony based album that it will offset my chagrin. Even if it doesn't I'm going to try to be as fair as possible. Third, I made it a point to listen to a variety of music and the original inspirations for the music to better analyze the songs and review them. This might work in the favor of the songs or against them. Fourth, I gave the album a quick listen when it first came out and was very much "Meh" about it. However that was also when I was in the state of mind of "Ugh Christmas music already? It is too early for that." Fifth, I have a $400 DAC/Amp with one of the most unforgiving and resolving DACs on the market, and a over a thousand dollars worth of professional grade headphones. I will hear artifacts that most normal home set-ups won't pick up. Along with ears that have been forced to listen for artifacts in music that most people won't hear. This is neither good or bad, but it will color my perception of the songs, but it shouldn't impact yours if you don't hear what I hear. Lastly, even though this shouldn't really need to be said, this is all my opinion. If you disagree and feel the need to comment, please be respectful and courteous. I'm not pretending that I'm an expert. However I'm also trying to be as fair as possible, I respect the same in return for dissenting opinions to mine. With that all said I hope you all enjoy this series of reviews.

starswirlthebearded

starswirlthebearded

 

Best Princess

I've often spoke out about who is the best princess (vs favorite princess). This isn't going to be about who is my favorite princess (but it isn't wholly unrelated), but rather whom I feel is the best overall princess and why. I'm going to take into account everything I've read and seen across all media for this. Starting from the bottom... Princess Luna, probably the most popular princess, is also, in all likelihood, the worst princess. To start with she is overly tied to emotions. While this makes for a very engaging character, it makes for a poor leader. It has caused her issues in the past and present. Her emotions are what lead her to be taken by the nightmare force, and try to kill her sister. Furthermore, she nearly cancelled a popular holiday merely because she disliked it. Yes, she helps individual ponies with nightmares, but that does not help the overall masses. She also lacks the experience her sister has (though that is mostly the fault of being banished which was her fault for letting her emotions get in the way of doing her duty for the ponies she guards) Cadence would probably be next, but it is rather close with Twilight, but that is mainly due to lack of information, so a lot of this will be conjecture. Even in the book explaining her ascension to princesshood, we really don't have much to go on. That said, she has been shown to be at least a somewhat effective leader in the Crystal Empire, putting the well being of her subjects before her own. In fact she nearly passed out trying to protect them from Sombra. While she hasn't had much screen time it is clear she places great value on those around her and will do anything to help, whether it is individual or group. Twilight would be after... While her time as princess is short, we have seen her attributes countless times over the course of the series. From each of the main big bads from season openers and closers to times like the Winter Wrap Up. She has shown that not only can she lead but she's willing to when it is required of her. Naturally though she is reluctant, and we have yet to see where the "Princess of Friendship" path will go, and we likely won't until Season 5. But still, she has shown that she is a true leader and will put the well being of others before herself. The only reason she exceeds Cadence is due to the plethora of information as the lead character. And at the very top is Celestia. This isn't even really a contest. From the start she was exalted above all others as a great ruler, all the way back in the first episode. But let's forget hearsay and focus on what we actually know of her. First is that she thinks of everyone, even when it is painful to her. She continued the Summer Sun Celebration as if nothing was wrong despite it being greatly painful for her as it was a reminder that she had to banish her sister. It can be postulated that she had similar feelings about Nightmare Night. Though Nightmare Moon was just a character to many ponies from an old ponytale, to Celestia it was always her sister that went astray. She kept peace and prosperity, alone, for around 1000 years, and was in a position of power long before that in all likelihood. She is also the princess most likely to make decisions and stick by those decisions even among other princesses, even if that decision is tough or possibly controversial (eg Having Discord face off against Tirek, knowing full well that sending anyone else would have likely lead to disaster, despite it being a decision that did not sit well with the other princesses). She may not be seen doing much anymore in the way of actively protecting ponies, but it is clear that she acts as an ambassador personally to other lands, having gone to Saddle Arabia and likely heading the talks with Maredonia. In short Celestia is an actual leader. If something happens in Equestria she is the one everypony runs to, including Luna, Cadence and Twilight. She has the experience, poise, and most importantly she has all the qualities of a great leader, including ability to inspire, confidence, commitment and a positive attitude (not to mention that she has a sense of humor). While it is easy to see why others prefer one princess over another as a favorite being characters, however the question of best princess is a simple answer. Celestia is clearly the leader of Equestria, other princesses defer to her, her subjects are most likely to come to her for issues concerning Equestria. While it can be argued that the other princesses may be better characters, or at the very least better developed (most of Celestia's characterization is from hearsay rather than from what we actually have seen), it cannot be argued that she is not the true ruler of Equestria, and therefore the best princess.

starswirlthebearded

starswirlthebearded

 

Rainbow Rocks Review

Alright, so another non-pony pony movie and another review... I'm going to do things a bit differently this time around, for a few reasons. Probably the chief reason is that I feel this movie can be more easily rated on a fair level without compensating for characters and biases going in like I did last time (I gave the last movie a 6.5 due to the characters and novelty of being sort of a pony movie) despite the glaring issues of the movie) So this time around I'm going to give two ratings, one as a fan of the show and another as impartially as I can. I'm also going to try and avoid spoilers. Technical stuff: This movie actually felt more like a movie with it's production values. You can tell Studio B actually put more effort and more money went into it. The best part of the series are the facial expressions. This was one of the highlights of the movie. On top of that, rather than looking like it was an extension of the series, it looked like the production values were increased to make it more separate from that. I'm not going to say it is top flight, but it is certainly low grade cinema level animation. What I mean by that is, it is no Pixar/Ghibli/Disney/Dreamworks animation (For their main movies), but it is closer to that than it is to the TV show animation values. I personally appreciated this increase in production. Likewise, the sound editing remained fantastic, which was needed for the nature of the movie. That said, if I was going to give a rating for this it would be a 3/5 (while the first one would have barely scored a 1/5). If I was comparing this to the show it would be a 5/5 for reference. Characters: Again, these are the characters we all came to love, and nothing has really changed there. The only thing that changed is the new dynamic with Sunset Shimmer and the new villains. That said, I can't really speak about most of the character involvements in this because of the nature of the villains. The good thing is that because of that, Flash Sentry played a far smaller role than he did in the first one. The villains was your typical trio dynamic (think CMC/Powerpuff Girls). This isn't a bad thing, it is a common dynamic and it is used for a reason, because it works. Would I have liked to see something new? Perhaps, but at the same time I can't fault them for using it, any more than I can fault any other trio dynamic from using this common set up. I do like the fact that the villains were Sirens and that was their role in this world and in Equestria. But like with most things MLP does with lore they modified it to suit their own purpose. I find this fine usually. They didn't *******ize the lore, so much as made it work in universe. (3.5/5, fans would give it 5/5 (ok let's face it, most fans would go for broke and break the scale and give it a 6/5)) Plot: The plot in many ways is similar to the original movie, and they even joke about it in the movie. However it was unique enough that it didn't have me thinking about it too much. Though I'm sad they didn't make any references to any other movies that used Battle of the Bands as a goal or a plot point (or even other shows, it's a pretty common thing). But again, save the world, must win to do it. Same song different tune. Not in a bad way though, it was actually a fresh way to do it, and they even made it a point to say that winning wasn't a necessity (it was just implied that it had to be that way). There were still plot holes, the biggest was unanswered questions about the Sirens. Everything else was minor, and honestly everything played out much smoother than before. For me the plot was a 3/5. Fans would probably say at least 4 or 5. It is an average plot told in a better than average way. They could have done more with it though which is why the score is lower than it should be really. The biggest annoyance was really the reusing of the same joke. Music: Ok this is the highlight of the movie. Not for me. Of all the songs, most were average at best, and half the time I thought I was listening to the same song. All the creative ones were pretty bad (possibly on purpose). But honestly, the flair that Daniel usually has was lost here. Most of the songs used a pop/pop-rock base, which made them sound very predictable. And this is just the featured main songs, that are meant to sound good. They featured other bands songs kind of which all had some creative flair but you didn't really get to hear enough of any of them to really make a call on them. Out of 10 songs, only one really stuck out to me, and it was cut short. The villain songs all come in second and the main character songs (save one) all come after that. But again, the biggest problem is that the villain songs all sounded like they were generally the same as did the main character song. While the songs were sufficiently catchy, they really weren't all that inspiring in terms of overall quality and uniqueness. (2/5) Also as an aside, I'll still never forgive Hasbro for not greenlighting a Glam Rock or 80s rock/metal theme for the music (main cast) vs Pop (villains) I think that would have been amazing and could have allowed for more variation and greater musical pliability. MY overall rating is 8/10. That is as a fan of the show and characters. As a movie I'd say this was closer to a 6/10. Slightly better than average. Animation fans could watch this and enjoy it even if they aren't invested in the characters. But if you are a fan of the series and characters that is where it shines. The pitfalls are actually the music and the once again recycled plot, but in an interesting way (I couldn't say that it was the same plot and set up from S1E1-2) Some interesting things were done, plot holes were kept to a minimum and it was an enjoyable experience. Also the after credit scene was awesome. Clearly Hasbro and DHX have been taking notes from Marvel Studios.

starswirlthebearded

starswirlthebearded

 

Rainbow Falls Review

So, apparently I'm one of the few that didn't like this episode. So I have decided to write down my thoughts about this episode. It started out OK enough, but nothing I found particularly funny. Bulk Biceps just seemed, from the start, like they were trying too hard with the "YEAH" personality thing, instead of trying to think of new ways to make him entertaining. But really there was a bigger problem with his character... Why couldn't he fly? He was in the Wonderbolts Academy, and flew pretty proficiently, so... what happened? So then they "explain" why nopony else could be on Dash's team, that the rules state that ponies can only be on one team... So... you can't compete in any other competition other than one? Maybe this is for sake of being fair, but this would imply that the entirety of the Equestria Games is team sports... Do they not have individual sports too? And if so, could they compete in those? I don't know, the whole Equestria Games rules seem iffy to me. It seemed like a forced way to place Dash in that situation. On the plus side, Dash's arrogance is pretty on point, and up to this point I feel like all the characters are pretty spot on (and I did like the cheerleaders). Also the other thing that confused me is that they seemed to have plenty of Pegasii in Ponyville during Hurricane Fluttershy. They seemed to only focus on a spare few popular background ponies and leave all the rest to the wayside. I'd have been happier if they chose another BG pegasus rather than Bulk (but I guess they wanted to name and use him since apparently that is what they thought fans wanted?). Oh right and the setting was awesome. I kinda want to know more about the Rainbow Falls area. The interim was more boring than bad... Then we have the Wonderbolts riding Sorin' hard, and in all the yelling he gets distracted by... cheerleaders? Surely he has had them before, along with stadiums full of screaming fans. I don't know, I just don't buy how he got injured, but it happened so that starts the conflict... Soarin' has an injured wing and can't do the qualifiers. Then the Wonderbolts being jerks, but I can buy that especially since we didn't have any characterization for Fleetfoot, and in the Wonderbolts academy Spitfire seemed more interested in results than morals (but you'd think she would have learned something after that, but I can buy that she didn't). Then we have... Sweet and Elite Rainbow Dash edition? I preferred this with Rarity, but more because they took advantage of how taxing it was on her and everyone else was seeing how tired and flustered she was. The only one who noticed here was Twilight (which is believable, she was the first to realize what was going on with Rarity as well or at least piece it together). Here she lightly chides RD. Also Micky was Spitfire's trainer. "More fun training with the winners than with the nonwinners." I actually understand the sentiment since she is able to push herself further making her a bit selfish (which Twi points out), which she has been shown to be, but she has also been shown to have grown in that respect. Was it because it was the Wonderbolts? The next part is what really annoyed me for two reasons... 1) They lied for no reason. They are a professional sports team. How hard would it have been to say that "Sorin' needs to rest and we don't want him taxing an already injured wing?" It happens all the time in sports, the health of the athlete takes precedence to the competition (and as we have seen too many times not taking said precautions leads to disaster). 2) Do they not have any alternates? No secondary Wonderbolts who aren't on the team? Nothing? They had to ask RD? And again this wouldn't be an issue even remotely if ponies were allowed to compete in multiple competitions (again still questioning that rule but by this point I accept it as a contrived reason to create the conflict that will arise). And there it is "Fly with us or fly with them." RD's dream... which she seemed ready to give up last we saw the Wonderbolts... I liked Wonderbolt Academy for the growth that RD went through and this set up seems to cheapen it, since she chose integrity and her friends over becoming a Wonderbolt (only to be told that she was right by Spitfire, which again both grew and that growth seems to be thrown out here and we do the same song and dance). Now she has the SAME situation and is conflicted? I don't get it. Friends being good friends! Woo! Making Dash feel bad... Then DERPY! Well I don't exactly like Derpy, I have no issues with the character but I'm not as crazy about her as others. But why did she just stand there waving a flag? I'd have liked it better if she actually showed some concern. They didn't even need to do anything other than her drop the flag and show it on her face rather than look cute and oblivious. (I initially overlooked this but for the sake of an actual review I simply can't) She still could have been silent and not stirred up controversy. But that was my only issue with Derpy and her enterance, or Derpy at all in fact. She was fantastically well used, unlike Bulk Biceps who seemed forced everytime you saw him (AJ too for that matter but to a lesser degree). But here is what made me happy, a fantastic moral. "Not choosing is not making a choice" basically. That is a good lesson, and I'm happy that it was touched on (even though the lead up was basically forced throughout). Then RD's realization and coming around. Then another thing that bothered me... Before they said Competition, now it's Tryouts? I don't know it felt weird... "Where I live and where friends are" Nice sentiment, I approve. But right after I'm confused... It hasn't even been a day since Sorin' was injured. Pretty badly I might add. Even still having bandages on the wing ala Dash in Read it and Weep. So... how did he fly? He was barely able to move his wing before. And Dash says basically the same thing she said in Spitfire's office... man Deja Vu, even Spitfire mentions that she showed the same sort of emotion during the Academy. Naturally Ponyville qualifies, the Wonderbolts learn something about loyalty and all is well. (And I believe someone said this in the thread that the rainbow thing happens when they teach someone else about their element, and I'll subscribe to that since the two characters that got something shined and they were both given by the character that learned something) So overall and sum up: The good: Nice moral Twi and Pinkie were in top form for characterization They used Derpy exceptionally well, being subtle rather than overt (which this episode was all about apparently) And they finished pretty strong The bad: The entire plot was contrived, asking why everything happened the way it did. They basically made rules for the sake of conflict The first 2/3rds was also boring, basically until Derpy showed up which occurred when there was 6 minutes left (Almost 15:00 on the dot out of 20:54) Dash's (and Spitfire) growth from Wonderbolt Academy was basically thrown out the window. The conflict shouldn't have been a conflict at all when she was willing to give up her dream entirely for her morals and friends, not even just flying for them in a simple competition AJ seemed a bit too obsessed with her baked goods. I really feel bad for AJ fans this season, they are basically trouncing on her character. They are making her fairly one dimensional... Pinkie Apple Pie actually helped her but it seems like one step forward and two steps back. Bats could have been phenomenal for her character but that got sabotaged by Flutterbat. Bulk Biceps felt forced the entire time. There wasn't a scene he was involved in where I didn't feel that everything was just a case of the writer trying to hard to make him funny Overall the entire episode felt overt, forced and contrived. There was no subtly other than Derpy which was rather short lived. I know people say that the last third really made up the episode for them, but not for me. I just felt annoyed by basically most of this episode. I'm not saying it is the worst, but it is basically on the level of many Spike and CMC eps for me. Just not entertaining. I certainly didn't expect Wonderbolt Academy 2.0: Loyalty edition with a dash of Sweet and Elite. Dash had turned down her dreams TWICE already for either her integrity (Wonderbolts Academy) or her friends (Basically THE VERY FIRST EPISODE (really second but first story if you will)). The first time I watched it I couldn't watch this through, barely laughed and just felt 'meh' watching it. The second time I felt a bit better but still couldn't watch it all the way through. The third time (for this review) I was finally able to watch it all the way through, but the problem was that I still didn't feel entertained. In the thread I said 5/10 as a standalone episode, which I'll stand by (or 3/10 comparing to the last two episodes which were very strong). But if I was going to give it an overall rating for all 4 seasons, it would be a 4/10. Easily one of the weaker episodes but not the worst (probably not even in the bottom 5 to be perfectly honest). Maredowell still takes that which is the only episode I absolutely did not like. This one was just not entertaining and very "meh" to me, and being very much a case of "trying too hard" (especially to please Bronies)

starswirlthebearded

starswirlthebearded

 

Rarity takes Manehattan: A NYer's Review

Hey! I haven't done one of these in a while, I'll try and keep this thing short... Now, I'm not going to say this episode was perfect, but it is easily one of the best episodes overall of all seasons thus far. So... We open with Rarity being manipulative and Pinkie Pie being annoying. Neither of these are bad, but it is a very expected way for the episode to open... What was unexpected? Instead of making something up for a reason to head to Manehattan, they used an ACTUAL EVENT THAT EXISTS! Fashion Week is an annual event in Manhattan (and all over the world, but let's just focus on Manhattan for now). Usually it is a way for designers to launch the next year's fashions, they also have up and comers (often from notable fashion schools). And it is really an awesome week if you enjoy fashion. So at this point each of the characters are really spot on, Rarity is not only excited but really generous to her friends and her friends are grateful and looking forward to helping her. Then we make it to Manehattan, smack in the middle of Times Square. Now the choice of locales I could have preferred to see a bit more spead, since there really aren't any theater venues in that area, mostly musical... But that is really nitpicking... There are tons of hotels though, and I'm assuming that was supposed to be a Penn Station analogue that they came out of, even though it looked more similar to Grand Central Station. But I totally get that. The location was right for Penn, but Grand Central meets the design criteria better, so I cannot fault them in the slightest. That said, it is certainly smack dab in the middle of the city both real and fictional. I'll be honest... the way Rarity tips actually DOES work for those hotels. They take care of you, so good on ya Rarity. Ok... then we have the song! With the best set up in all of the set ups of MLP. It was awesome. Simply awesome. And the song that followed was equally great. One of the better MLP songs easily. Mad men reference and Grumpy Cat were awesome references. This episode showcased not only her generosity but also her faults. (Also cabdrivers driving crazy TOTALLY something Manehattan should have). Prim is great. I've met people like that in the fashion and music industry who are organizing similar events. They got the characterization spot on. Suri is a great antagonist, and Coco is not only a great foil but a fantastic character in her own right. (Though Prim should have said Brava not Bravo, again, nitpick but still... something that irks me when I hear it). Rarity's insecurities pushing her friends too hard is something not only believable but it showcases her faults fantastically, while the rest of the episode showed off her strong points. And it all works out in the end. The song reprise was great, and the fashion show was brilliant. The ending was brilliant as well with everything falling into place. This is a near perfect episode, even with my nitpicks, it just works on every level from characters to how everything works. The moral is great too. The side cast was great and strong, the showcasing of the elements was fantastic... I just don't have any REAL complaints out of nitpicks. Seriously... For this season, this is the episode that starts at a 10/10. This is the episode to beat. I can't think of anything to put it down, but even still I think overall it should be realistically a 9.5, but I can't even think of a reason to drop it down to that, but that is my gut rating. So... I'll go with that. Just great episode. (also this was totally a Raridash episode... I'm sure Raridash appreciated that)

starswirlthebearded

starswirlthebearded

 

Equestria Girls Review

*Image from MLP Wikia: original link here* Now before I start, I want to say that I actually didn't hate the movie, on the contrary it was rather entertaining. I'm going to be fair as possible in this review, because the movie is actually NOT bad in my opinion. In fact, I'd say the IMDB rating is almost spot on at it's current rating (6.5/10). So let's begin... First let's get through the technical stuff. Animation is top of the list... I'm sorry to say that I was a bit disappointed. It looked like the TV show. Not that the TV show is poorly animated or looks bad, but honestly, this is a feature length film. I'd had hoped they would have put a bit more into it to make it that extra bit special. This however was not the case. What should have looked fantastic, simply looked on par with the TV show animation. Now I know that the beginning and end were intended to be like that, to give the feeling that this was still MLP, but when they changed the setting, I felt that the style should have looked less like Monster High and more like something original that Studio B or someone they hired came up with, with a bit better animation than what they gave us. They should have done better in that regard. On the positive side, it was still like the show. They didn't cut any corners because of the extended length either. The show is always lively, something is always going on in the background, and that was retained. Then again, if they hadn't retained that liveliness I'd have looked on this movie in a much poorer light. The next technical aspect is sound engineering and SFX. Honestly, I was impressed. There were several nuanced sounds, and sound effects that were added to the mixing board along with some more classic sound effects. Everything was mixed well and put in appropriate places for comedic or whatever effect they were aiming for. It was all actually rather good. They even threw in a transformers soundboard effect for Pinkie in the very beginning. The voice acting... What can I say? The main cast is fantastic as always, as are the stand in singers. This goes doubly for Rebecca Stoichet who managed to play the villain as well as do a fantastic stand in for Twilight Sparkle as the singer. Is her voice a perfect double for Tara's singing voice? No, but I don't expect it to be, but it is close enough so that it wasn't distracting at all. However, as little of it as there was, I felt the background characters sounded weird at times. Maybe I'm just not used to the voices, but after the third viewing, those few background characters that got a throw away line, just didn't sound right. Flash Sentry was new, but his voice was great, as was Sunset Shimmer. So I know they have the voice talent to make background characters sound less awkward, but that didn't occur. But again, there were so few throw away lines for those characters that it really isn't that big of a deal, unless you count the random chatter from the corridor scenes. And last but not least music... Steffan Andrews and Daniel Ingram continue to delight. The background music by Andrews always felt right and never out of place. And Ingram managed to write another earworm that will get stuck in your head for hours if not days after watching this movie. Is the music fantastic? Debatable, but comparing to the show, it is at the very least on par. Really this entire movie felt like an episode of MLP. Again, not bad at all, and I was more expecting that than the animation being simply par. [colour=#ff0000]************SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT***************[/colour] Now onto the rest of the movie.... Plot wise, this movie was weak, and was pretty much like sliders. Many questions were never answered and there were more plot holes than I care to count. (hence what would be my lower score than I'm sure many would give it) I'm not going to go into too much detail, as much as I can, but here it goes... So in the beginning of the movie Twilight goes to the Crystal Empire for a princess summit. Understandably she is nervous and unsure of herself (this is actually the overarching theme of the movie which is actually quite good on how they deal with it, and while I hope this movie doesn't become official show canon, I do hope they'll do a similar story arch in the show). Enter Sunset Shimmer. Now I have two problems with this... While it is logical that she would know about the EoH, how did she know about Twilight's? In fact how did she know what the EoH looked like to "make the switch"? It was implied that she was in that world for more than 3 years at the very least! In fact it was loosely implied that she left Celestia's tutelage pretty early on, which would mean that Twilight hadn't been sent to Ponyville yet, which means that the Elements weren't even recovered or reactivated yet! This is the start of the great feats of suspension of disbelief (actually that is one of the lesser ones, as there are others that had me scratching my head worse)... OK so assuming that she somehow knew and left after Twilight and her friends took upon themselves the EoH representations [Which sort of does make sense as it would give her reason to drive them apart in her world], it is an OK start of a plot to enter into a different world. And they give her a time limit with a consequence. A bit cliche, but an effective tactic to create a decent climax later on in the film. Before we enter the other world we are told that it would upset the balance if all went (which makes sense... dopplegangers and all). However that too begs a question... What happened to Sunset Shimmer's human double? Is she in the city too and just would never appear at CHS? But that I'll take as it is likely a similar reason to Twilight... OK so Twilight enters and Spike follows. Good thing! She has no idea what she is! And she has no idea how to function as a bipedal organism! This of course leads to high jinks regarding not knowing how to function and a few funny moments. Not knowing what a HS is, what the display cases are, assuming that it had to do with Sunset Shimmer, all things that are likely conclusions when you don't know what is going on. Then she realizes she's wrong and bumps into Flash Sentry. Queue obligatory love interest story. Because after all, what HS movie would be without a love interest? Yeah it is forced, but this was aimed at teenage girls, and younger, so really... it is not only expected but almost a requirement for this sort of movie. And over all I've seen worse.... Queue first song! Not only first song but several first time notable character appearances! I'm pretty sure some of the other background characters were based on background ponies as well. The first song is pretty good. Nitpick? They used "nose" instead of muzzle. But that is a really small nitpick for an otherwise good song. A few funny moments too, and things that I'd believe from HS... like not helping the clumsy girl up. You also see how modern it is with cell phones and the like. Enter Fluttershy. Repeat of first episode? Pretty much, but it got a smile out of me. You really see that this is the current Twilight and how much she has evolved as a character. I'm not sure she would have acted this way in the first few episodes, especially since she was pretty awkward in the first few, and standing up to and being more forceful with Fluttershy's shyness were really welcome. Yet it pretty much ends the same way, only with Twilight actually being able to talk to Fluttershy... Principle Celestia, knowing about the crown and Twi's obvious awkwardness in these situations are both obvious and entertaining. The next part is what really annoys me... Why did she just not bring the crown that Sunset Shimmer gave her, tell her that that is the crown that was originally the school's, and show Celestia that the crown they had in their possession looked of actual gold and gem (and thus way over the school's budget). I mean, really? You don't bring the other crown to show that there are two almost identical looking crowns? Though I suppose that would have ended the movie too quickly and easily, so I'll give it a pass, and Twilight's logic in that instance is sound (Though I wonder if Principle Celestia knew about the portal like Princess Celestia did). More "I have to idea how to act like a human". But at this point they make sense and are somewhat funny! Then enter Pinkie Pie and her odd sense of knowing exactly what's going on. But... it's Pinkie Pie. I'll get into the attitude towards Fluttershy later when it is more relevant. Sunset Shimmer finally gets a decent screen time. And really throughout the entire movie I really start to appreciate her as a villain. She plans ahead and is really a good villain. She isn't exactly Discord, Sombra or Nightmare Moon, but she doesn't need to be. She just needs to be an above average school bully. And she is way above average. The Trixie scene made me laugh out loud. Seriously probably the singularly funny moment up until this point. From Twilight's position, to Trixie not really caring, and announcing herself as she always does. The next scene is probably my most hated... This is where I feel they over did the "I'm a pony and don't know how to use hands" bit. By this point she has shown that she knows her hands are the primary means of interacting with things. The computer thing particularly annoyed me, not because she didn't know how to use it and interacted with it strangely at first, but because we saw her use her fingers to interact with the keys, then a second later she uses her fists? Really movie? Be a bit consistent! There is no reason for her to know how to use a keyboard and then not know a few seconds later! CMC at this point reminiscent of show stoppers. Honestly I'd have loved to know what they would have replaced "pony" with. Really everything in this scene except the copy machine bit was a bit grating to me. She was grabbing dozens of books with her hands, then she suddenly decides to use her mouth? I mean... I know habit, but still... it seemed forced and out of place. The next scene however where we are introduced to Rarity and the following scenes, really is where I feel the movie started to redeem itself (save one major plothole). The movie was fairly entertaining up until this point, but really I feel after the plot hole issue is taken care of and they get together with the YouTube video showing Twi being a derp and/or spaz, it really starts to improve. Now let's talk about this last huge plot hole shall we? So each had an issue with another of the mane 6 counterparts. OK, fine, things happen. But really...? None of them, being friends and all, decided to APPROACH and ASK why they did what they did? If someone showed up to a silent auction with fireworks my first reaction would be to stop, and basically yell at them what they were thinking (or in Fluttershy's case probably just run off crying which should have lead to Pinkie Pie running after asking what was wrong)! Same with not showing up, and same with asking why they told me they didn't need my help (if I was really their friend). I mean, friendship 101 people! Did they just not talk? How do you go that long with those misunderstandings without finding out the truth. The softball thing especially, because surely they were annoyed and talking about it. Gossip travels fast, especially in HS. The whole reasoning why they aren't friends at this point is suspect. I know why they needed to do it, but honestly it felt halfbaked. And I love Meghan McCarthy. She has written some of my favorite episodes. But really I think she could have done better here. But this is really [almost] my last major issue (I have one small one and one large one a bit later). Finally Rainbow Dash. Hey it only took... half the movie? For your appearance! It isn't like you're an important character, right? (To be honest, I'd have laughed hysterically if AJ was the last one to be introduced given how she gets slated pretty much at every turn with merch) This was actually a pretty good scene overall, and a good entry for the character, and something that I could totally see Rainbow Dash doing. More lovey stuff, but I'm not annoyed by it! It is actually pretty underplayed compared to others. The focus of the movie is no where near that. And it isn't as forced as others, though still kinda forced. Now, I'm not the biggest Rarity fan, but... I can't help but feel she is the best character of this entire movie. She really feels the most natural of them all, and I really like her scenes the most. She isn't forced or seem too out of character like the rest. Even in that plot hole, her anger seems more genuine and more believable because of her character's inherent flaws. Where as the others, well not so much... (FS and Rarity are the only two who I believe wouldn't make the first move. Rarity because she'd feel slated and FS because she's just too shy). And the song... OH THIS SONG! This is the biggest earworm of the movie! [Consequently also the best song of the movie] I was cursing Daniel Ingram's name after this song... Seriously, it isn't a great song, but is is incredibly catchy and easy to listen to. The ultimate highlight of the movie, and probably the thing that people will remember most about this movie. Then Sunset Shimmer's plan. I suppose they don't have Photoshop... or perhaps they lack a scanner and had to copy the imposed images over the other? I don't know, but it is at least believable. Again I really have few complaints from this point on. Tell the truth, good going Spike. This is one of the more "touching" scenes, and again Rarity is the most entertaining one, she really has the best reactions. Then after that we get the second last major song. And I actually think this is the second best one, and has a pretty good message. Though it might be from my times volunteering to help clean up after Super Storm Sandy (really that is what this entire scene felt like, and really that is the feeling you get in that situation, everyone becomes equal and it really is an enormously powerful scene). Last major song, kinda feels like a variation of Gala song. Also Twilight became a character from Twilight for a second there... (sorry obligatory joke is obligatory)... Twilight of course wins the crown... And finally the wind down... Spike gets dognapped, and Sunset Shimmer threatens to destroy the portal. I have two issues with this scene. One is a nitpick... Hammer to portal... Wouldn't the hammer just... you know... go through? Twilight's reaction to not knowing what would happen is a good one though. She again really shows her growth. This movie really feels like it could be part of the MLP:FiM universe. The other issue I have is far bigger (but of course it would destroy the climax). During the scuffle over the crown... why didn't Twilight just... you know... throw the crown through the portal? That's how it got to the universe in the first place, so it could have returned the same way, foiling the plans of Sunset Shimmer pretty quickly. But instead of throwing it towards the portal Twilight throws it backwards into her hands.... Needed for the climax but totally nonsensical. The we have the horrible things and the villain showing true colours (and a design strikingly similar to the Panty and Stocking demons Scanty and Kneesocks only cleaner for kiddies and with a tail for reasons?) Then the obligatory magic of friendship thing and conclusion of the main story. Affirmation of Twilight's ability to lead, and return to Equestria, and sort of alluding to her crush on Flash Sentry... Conclusion: This was a standard HS movie with some really catchy tunes and more or less formulaic execution. None of that is bad though. This had a pretty decent entertainment value. It was certainly not as bad as I had feared based on the terrible character design choices (which did get better admittedly). Plot was loose, and could have been better, but really the target audience wouldn't care about that, and neither would many Bronies. The characters were fantastic throughout and really felt like individuals while still being based on the pony counterparts. Were there issues in execution for plot reasons? Yes, but again, kids movie, and really the plot holes... well I've seen worse. This movie was OK! Not good or great by any stretch of the words, nor was it bad or terrible. It was watchable, and really re-watchable for the purposes of this review. As a kids movie, I'd say it was probably well above average, but as a movie standing on it's own, I'd have to say it could have been much better. However considering that Meghan McCarthy and Jayson Thiesson were probably handed this by Hasbro Execs and told "make it work so we can sell Monster High-esque toys" they did a fantastic job. Would I own this? Probably not, but I really wouldn't mind owning the OST just for the music. Again, I think 6.5 is a really fair score for this movie. It is about average, maybe just above because of the characters. The jokes are overly used and constantly recycled and I really think Meghan could have put a bit more effort into thinking up some varying material, but in the end, it mostly worked.Worth watching? Yes, definitely. Worth owning? Not so much. In the end I'm happy I gave this a fair shake.

starswirlthebearded

starswirlthebearded

 

My first (and possibly only) foray into apping for cast [thoughts and reflection]

I'm really writing this to collect my thoughts on the matter that had transpired. Basically this blog entry is entirely self serving so I can collect my thoughts and have a record of it. Whether anyone enjoys reading my ramblings is entirely up to them. To begin with, I was never really interested in applying for cast. I had a list of two possible [that I thought I could effectively play and potentially enjoy playing them]... Celestia and Twilight. And really wasn't sure. I was going to app Twilight if I had time, but that never panned out due to time constraints and Steel won, and so I was left with Celestia. I wrestled with the idea of applying for a while never really sure how to tackle it. I had a few ideas from abstract to concrete. Then... the Codaxia was updated with a closing date... And so I was forced to make my app, or rather at least try, and make my choice on how to do the character and her app. After research and deliberation I decided to take concrete route and just do the lore thing. Really, I was disappointed in the result. I felt that it was sloppy and didn't flow well as prose. Not only that, due to my writing style it read more like a history book than a character bio, granted I did like how I connected everything. But all the same I manned up and sent it in. I wasn't not going to after the several days I spent researching and writing and basically going insane over this app. I suppose my self critique was overly hard on myself, but hey, I am rarely fully satisfied with what I write. I mean I've been happy with a few of my OCs, but this was different, and I really wholly didn't like my result. (also a few other members who proofread my app basically said I'd be mad if I didn't *shrug*) Then came the prompt... at the worst possibly time... when I was working 3 days straight and had barely any time. I was told 48 hours so I threw something together, the most generic thing I could think of, but it worked well enough, at least I thought so... And really it was, but to me, it wasn't something that I'd vote on, so I really never expected anyone to vote for my app. I really wasn't happy, in the end, with either my app or my prompt... so I figured with at least 2 other people I knew apping my goose would be cooked so to speak. And then I had the advantage and privilege of seeing the voting transpire [ah the pleasures and stress associated with being RPH]... To say that it was a confidence booster would be an understatement [also enormously stressful]. I thought I might get one or two votes... I ended up taking exactly half. By half I mean I made it a tie with Jane who eventually got the character. I'm not really going to say much about what transpired behind closed doors, but really I was shocked [and technically I almost won, which to me would have been hilarious since I never thought my work was near that good]. And it went into a tie breaker round... 2 days after it was supposed to... Which lead to the same problem as the first... no time and a time limit that I had to deal with [though this time it was an actual social life than having to work]. I ended up losing the second vote by a pretty large margin. Reflecting on it, all I can wish is having more time for the prompts. I mean I understand why there is a time limit, you need to be able to post a certain amount with cast characters, and I'm sure my posting speed would not mesh well with a high tier character like Celestia, but at the same time I felt like I only gave half a performance. The hilarious thing is that both my prompts still gained some praise, which baffled me. I've never really considered myself a fantastic RPer, or even a good one compared to some other of my roleplay compatriots. But really this experience made me rethink that. I'm really not sad that I lost, frankly with the prompt performance that I gave I deserved to lose, especially the second one, which looking back on I just couldn't think of a way to complete the prompt properly so it was basically half done in a way (not entirely, I'd say closer to 75% done), but at the same time I feel like it showed me that I'm really a decent RPer. I may never apply for cast again, but I'll still enjoy RPing with the characters whose voices I created and are living in my head [which is far easier anyhow]. I really do think I'm done apping for cast, at least for now. Maybe if Tia or Twi opens again I'll go for them again, or if that middle ground RP area opens I'll go for either of them and perhaps a certain villain... But really I can't say that I'm particularly driven to. This was a good experience, but I don't feel an over abundance of need to repeat it.
 

Help Fund the Tesla Museum/Science Center!

OK, so I love science. I love technology. And being the son of a [now deceased] Yugoslavian immigrant, I was exposed at a rather young age to this man named Nikoli Tesla, the ultimate geek, science nerd and all around genius. He has done more to shape our modern world and technology more than most (who most people don't know about because of a man named Thomas Alva Edison). If you need to learn about him, The Oatmeal, made a fantastic comic about him. This link is NSFW as it has coarse language, but it gets the message across fairly well. So now some rather disturbing news has come to light, that his property in NY is up for sale and a retail chain is vying for its purchase. Well I for one can't have that! And apparently neither can The Oatmeal, who has set up a fundraiser (also NSFW for the same coarse language) to save the property and turn it into a museum. Even if you can't spend the money, please spread the word. I want to protect my hero and the hero of my father. When I have the extra money, I'll be donating to this fund. Please help save this great man's legacy, and make the only Tesla museum in America a reality. (There is already one in Beograd, Serbia)Yes I spell it "Beograd" no, its not wrong. The Cyrillic script is "Београд" Which literally translates to Beograd. Belgrade is just to make it easier for people to say EDIT: If you have problems with the NSFWness of The Oatmeal, feel free to read all about the Tesla Science Center and donate to it at their website.

starswirlthebearded

starswirlthebearded

 

Western vs Eastern Animation

So, a little background for this. Someone, on another forum, basically said that he didn't like MLP, or any other Western animation, because Anime (Eastern Animation) was better. And so, I wrote a quick reason to him as to why I think he is mistaken in his assertions. So, since this is a MLP forum, I felt this was the best place for me to post my thoughts on the subject. But let me preface this by saying that I am a fan of BOTH mediums for entirely different reasons. However, this will be written in a defense style of western animation for the most part. First off, it seems apparent to me that fans of eastern animation seem to think that it has better animation, and drawings. I find this interesting. Mainly because there is barely any animation at all in most Japanese anime. That isn't to say that most of the pictures aren't very pretty, because they are. However Japanese animation is very lazy animation. They tend to use panning shots, shots of the backs of characters, and very little dynamic movement of the characters to avoid animating the characters, they don't even want to animate the mouths moving. And don't even get started on the backgrounds. Almost never any movement at all. Naturally there are exceptions to this, like in anime such as the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, but on the whole, anime is atrocious in terms of animation and production values. Take any Western Animated series, and compare it to Eastern, there is no contest in terms of what is better animated and what has a better frame rate. Ok, so what about the pictures? Anime looks awesome, right? Well, yeah, but does Western actually look bad, or just more cartoony? I really think this is the weakest of all points, because it is a difference in art style, not in inherent artistic ability. In fact, western animation can be better at times than Eastern. Take Samurai Jack for instance. Just an all around amazing art style and direction, with high quality animation to match. Now the last one is tricky... Story telling... Anime tends to be plot driven, while western animation tends to be character driven. Basically it comes down to story arc vs episodic. And really? They are both equally valid and interesting styles of story telling. Really I think both deserve a place. And really there are anime and western cartoons that break this system. In the end, I think what I am getting at is that fans of anime seem to overlook the graces of western cartoons. I'd rather both live in harmony and both sides be open to the benefits of both.

starswirlthebearded

starswirlthebearded

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