Rainbow Rocking in the Free World: “Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks” review

Who doesn’t love music? I know I do!

Most of my tastes in music are based on what I listened to as a kid, and I listened to a lot of different music as a kid; music from artists such as: The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Collective Soul, Wilson Phillips, David Bowie, Meat Loaf, Goo Goo Dolls, The Who, Megadeth, Elton John, Aerosmith, Duran Duran, Genesis, Blue, Santana, John Mellencamp, Ozzy Osborne, Sara Bareilles, Toto, Eurythmics, Fastball, Brian Adams, Def Leppard, Matchbox Twenty, Led Zepplin, Counting Crows, Sky, George Michael, Robbie Williams, R.E.M., Peter Gabriel, Nirvana, Backstreet Boys, Kenny Loggins, UB40, The Spice Girls, Skid Row, Billy Joel, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Blues Traveller, Rush, Seal, Tears for Fears, Mötley Crüe, Starship, Pink Floyd, Train, Rick Astley, Moist, The Tea Party, Metallica, Eric Clapton, Oasis, Journey, Sloan, Styx, Tom Petty, Michael Jackson, Barenaked Ladies, Bon Jovi, Bachman–Turner Overdrive, Sophie B. Hawkins, Van Halen, Sass Jordan, Rob Zombie, Bob Seger, Korn, Midnight Oil, Honeymoon Suite, and New Radicals… just to name a few.

And you’ll notice, with this breadth of musical exposure, I’ve listened to everything; virtually every genre under the sun with the exception of rap. And because of this, I like almost anything. Give me any new song from any new artist, and there’s a good chance I’ll like it, as long as it’s good.

Oh, I know what you’re going to say, ‘just because you don’t like it, doesn’t mean it’s bad!’ And sure, I’d agree with that. Art tends to be judged subjectively, in a purely opinionated and emotional way. And those opinions and emotions tend to vary from person to person. What one person thinks is crap, could be the most beautiful thing in the world to another; and they’d both be right.

However, I think we can agree when a song is not very sophisticated or complex, or when the lyrics are cliché or nonsensical; and I think we can all agree that the worst criticism one can give to a work of art, is that it’s boring.

Case in point, I know a bit of guitar… a very little bit… basically, don’t ask me to sight-read sheet music, and don’t ask me to join a spontaneous jam session until you give me a chance to review the old blues scale. But I can certainly belt out a few power chords if the mood strikes me. And power chords, in case you didn’t know, are the simplest fucking chords in existence. You hit only two strings, and the finger positioning is always the same, just move it around the fret board. And I only bring this up because if someone as crap as I can successfully pull off a Nickelback song, that doesn’t speak well for Nickelback, does it?

Basically, I’m saying Nickelback is shit.

But if music is good, I like it. If it’s interesting, fun, complex, profound, emotional, or just really really catchy, I like it. You won’t see me sticking my nose up at soft pop, or reggae, or grunge or mainstream metal. I love them all! And I love it when people share my perspective. When I see others who feel the same way. Those who see all music as music. Not as the cornerstone of a major cultural movement, or the central bedrock of a personal identity. But just some nice sounds that one can love, or hate. Sounds that are fun to make, and fun to hear, and nothing more.

And that brings us to a fantastic celebration of music in the form of Technicolor humans forming a band.

Yes, it’s the sequel to 2013’s epic film of adventure and magic, Equestria Girls. Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks! Which is film about adventure, magic and music! Love the contrast. Continue reading

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Equestria Rising: “Equestria Girls” review

It’s been hard to remain excited about My Little Pony.

Since the third season wrapped up, which was over six months ago by the way, I haven’t really had much enthusiasm about the franchise. That last season made me think of a dying whale, screaming out its final cries as it struggled to stay alive, while being sucked down into the whirlpool of irrelevance.

Not that I’m happy about it, far from it. Seeing my favourite show go down the drain does not give me pleasure, in any way. It makes me sad. It makes me depressed. It makes me cling to the pun-laden cringe-inducing SheZow; and the highly superior, but less exciting, Littlest Pet Shop.

I love the show, and I hate to see it fall apart. But this was bound to happen. Eventually, all programs, with the possible exception of Seinfeld, run out of ideas. The writing staff starts to come up dry, and have to resort to reading off the list of ideas they previously thought were too shit to bother writing.

And that’s exactly how season three felt, even though it was only thirteen episodes long. It actually felt more like they were taking cues from fan fiction. Even the final episode felt like a shitty fan story, rather than a well-thought-out, professionally made script.

It’s the same complaint I levelled at one of the final Animorphs books, back in the day. I was a huge fan of that series, but the way they saved Marco’s mother felt so contrived, and so forced, it actually made me sick. I don’t know what else to say about it. And don’t get me started on the actual ending.

But I digress. Now thankfully, during season three, there were a few episodes I liked. Wonderbolts Academy was pretty good, despite Spitfire’s apparent recharacterization. And Magic Duel, and Just for Sidekicks rank among my favourite episodes of all time, even if Peewee went walkabout.

But sadly, I found the rest of the season to be lacking, and Magical Mystery Cure was the first episode that I actually hated. Which is a tall order, you have to admit.

So it should come as no surprise to anyone that, when I first heard of Equestria Girls, I was a bit skeptical. I didn’t want to be. I wanted to be ready to jump in with both feet, excited for the latest release; their theatrical debut. But I wasn’t. Instead, I was scared. I was afraid it would be exactly as terrible as I expected, and make me give up my bronydom, and all that comes with it.

Sad Fluttershy

I’m so glad to be proven wrong. Continue reading

Our Awesome Avengers

Sometimes, you have to know what you’re doing. Where you’re going. What your purpose is.

I never quite understood this until recently.

A matter of days ago, while writing the next chapter of Sibling Rivalry, I came to a startling realization: Knowing what I know now, I could have structured the story a lot better by rewriting everything after chapter three, delaying the actual romance between Spike and Sweetie Belle, and have his affection for her form a bit more gradually as a consequence of their budding friendship, as he teaches her magic. It would allow the story to focus on the romance, rather than the bullshit deception.

So I’m an idiot. I think I might go back and rewrite the whole story with that in mind. Or I could just say ‘fuck it’ and move on at this stage.

I don’t know.

I think the problem is, I didn’t think the story through well enough. I didn’t think it through deeply enough. I should’ve seen the plot holes before they came. But it really goes to show just how important preparation is. How important it is to plan a story out well in advance. As a writer, you might find it frustrating, not getting to the good bits. But overall, it’ll mean the story you write will be better, and much more coherent.

Which might be the reason Marvel made it work. They thought it through, and planned it all out from day one. They didn’t just make one film left open for sequels. They designed the whole thing to fit together as one giant franchise.

I am of course referring to the epic and sublime Avengers film franchise. Five films: Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: the First Avenger. All tying together and referencing each other, with the purpose of reaching the ultimate crescendo, with film six, The Avengers.

The Avengers

By the way, in case you couldn’t tell, I love this film. Continue reading

Magic and Nazis and Gods, wait-what!?

The Marvel Universe is weird.

We have advanced technology, genetic engineering, genetic mutations, magic, cosmic beings, supernatural phenomena, gods, parallel universes, aliens, and Samuel L. Jackson, all coexisting in the same world. It doesn’t make sense.

With the exception of Samuel L. Jackson, none of these things exist here, in reality, so it can really strain credulity to have them all coexist in the same world.

Yet somehow, it works. Somehow, all these things can come together. And somehow, it makes sense.

Advanced technology can coexist, and even work with, magic. It can be used to spur genetic mutations, and travel to parallel universes. It can even make Samuel L. Jackson more of a badass!

But how? With interesting and relatable characters, compelling plotlines, and a consistently goofy tone, we can overlook the tiny contrivances and inconsistencies, because overall, it makes a better story.

Which brings us to the second half of the Avengers franchise, or as I call it: clusterfuck heaven. Continue reading

Friendship is Smash!

It’s hard to pin down exactly why I like My Little Pony.

Could it be the characters? The setting? The plot? The overall cheery tone? The comedy?

More than likely, it’s a bit of everything. But more recently, I found another reason to love the show: The message.

I don’t just mean the friendship message, I mean something more than that.

Too many shows are about one person, one hero, saving the world. Perhaps assisted by a sidekick who does bugger all, and is only there to look up to our hero, and maybe help during some contrived plot point.

This is a staple of every action film in existence. It’s always about one person, and I’m sorry, but I’m not buying it. One person is the most useless thing in existence. If you want to make a real impact on the world, or save the world, you’re not going to do it alone.

It’s a fantasy. The idea that a solitary protagonist can save the day is just something we like, because we can latch onto it, and think; if Bruce Willis can do it, perhaps we could as well. After all, he’s not really an action star… or at least he wasn’t when he made Die Hard, he was a goddamn comedian. I would argue, he still is. But I digress.

A story that stars a team is much better, especially if the individual elements could manage to hold their own. Which is especially true of the ponies. We have Rarity using psychological warfare against the Diamond Dogs; Fluttershy shaming the cockatrice; and Applejack facing off against the Timberwolves. But bring them together, they wield the most powerful weapon in Equestria: The Elements of Harmony!

It reminds me of Left 4 Dead. A great game where you play a single survivor of the zombie apocalypse, who could probably take out a horde with a few swings of your katana. But you’ll eventually get overwhelmed, and will need the help of your friends to make it to the end!

Apparently Pacific Rim does the same thing. I haven’t seen it yet, but from what I hear, the film’s all about how it takes a team to save the world from giant rampaging Godzilla-sized monsters.

This formula works even better if it’s a ragtag group. All having different backgrounds, different personalities, and different points of view. Like in My Little Pony. A team of six different heroes, from all walks of life, and with very different backgrounds, and conflicting personalities, who come together to fight a great threat, and become great friends.

Which brings me so eloquently to Marvel’s The Avengers. It’s My Little Pony with duller tones. Continue reading

Star Trek Redundancy

Star Trek, as a franchise, has a rich and varied history.

It’s a franchise all about the bright future humanity has waiting for it, all thanks to technology and scientific development.

The future is a world of peace. A world without poverty. It’s a world we all want to live in.

I find it odd that so many people think the future is dismal and dreary. Best guess: it’s pure selfishness. The truth is, now is the best time to be alive. A century, or even a decade ago, life sucked in comparison.

In 2003 we didn’t have DVRs, or Wi-Fi. The internet was still in its infancy, and medical technology was… well… we’ve made advancements. Okay, no cure for cancer, but there is the HPV vaccine, to start.

So given all that, many people hope the world would end tomorrow, so this time isn’t just the greatest time to be alive in comparison to all that came before it, but all that came after it. They don’t want to think that life gets better, because then they’ll just be jealous of the future.

I’m honestly jealous of the future. It saddens me to think martian colonies will not be established in my lifetime. My children will probably be long dead well before that happens.

But regardless, the future is waiting for us, and life will only get better. So let’s keep pushing that.

The second Star Trek series, The Next Generation, pushed the franchise from the 23rd into the 24th century. Which was a brilliant move, since we got to see how things get even better as time marches on.

Enterprise, the fifth entry in the franchise, was a prequel series set in the 22nd century, and is often considered Star Trek’s biggest misstep.

I don’t know if I can agree, I kinda like Enterprise. But I understand why some may not. It pulled the series back, when it probably would’ve been better to move forward.

I mentioned last time, that there were proposals to continue the franchise into the 26th, and 31st centuries. Both would have been fantastic. I would have loved to see either of those series in the light of day. It would have been the right move. Pushing the series’ history further and further into the future.

Sadly, they didn’t do that. Because the powers that be decided to do something completely different, and completely stupid. After Enterprise, the only follow-up we got brought us back into the 23rd century, a century we already covered. Following a crew we already know, the one from the original series.

And I honestly think it was a bad idea.

But ideas don’t matter, only execution. Something I’ve learned over the years. So I think it’s time I gave this film a fair shake.

Let’s talk about Star Trek… wait… I mean… I think I should start talking about Star Trek- no that still doesn’t work.

Okay, there’s a film, called Star Trek, and it’s a recent entry in the franchise called Star Trek. I’m referring to the specific film, not the franchise as a whole, when I say I want to talk about Star Trek… the film… made in 2009…

I hate my life. Continue reading

To Boldly Go…

According to ancient myth, Star Trek films have a pattern. All the even-numbered releases are ‘good,’ and all the odd-numbered releases are ‘bad.’ Strange isn’t it?

Any rational mind would question such a state. Why would the quality jump around from film to film in a predictable pattern?

Well, there is such a thing as a self-fulfilling prophecy. When Jonathan Frakes was tasked with directing the ninth film, Insurrection, he mentioned the pattern, and said he’s happy to direct the film despite the fact that it is going to suck.

I’m willing to bet he half-assed the work because of this.

But does it hold up? Well, with the Next Generation films… kinda. First Contact was one of the best films I’ve ever seen, and Nemesis was a fun little romp.

Insurrection, I honestly liked when I first saw it, and when I first reviewed it. Though more recently I heard arguments against the film’s moral message, so now I kinda have to agree with the bad guys in that film. However, that being said, it was well executed, and generally, that’s all that matters.

Generations was shit. The only good part was Data’s emotion chip.

So for the most part, those four films maintained the pattern. But how did this all start? How did this pattern come to be? Well… I have no fucking clue. Because for the first six films, starring the cast of the original series. The pattern is non-existent… at least, in my view. Continue reading

Closed Logic

What I love the most about TRON and TRON 2.0, is the feel of it: Surreal and fantastic.

It’s a world where anything is possible, where information is free, and where one’s very nature can be altered on a whim.

It’s not grounded in the logic we know. It’s a purely fictional world. Every element is distinct from reality.

Even something as simple as a city street can be bizarrely surreal.

There’s also the bright colour scheme, with flat colours maintaining the world’s artificial feel.

It’s a fantastic look, and a fantastic world. So how can someone fuck that up?

Well, by changing the look to reflect reality, and reducing the colour scheme to black, black, more black, off-black and the occasional neon light.

This is TRON: Legacy, where the TRON franchise went to die. Continue reading