Hey all, just felt like giving my opinion on the third installment of the Equestria Girls film series. I don't normally do these types of things, but I felt like expressing my opinion since it seems to be on the minds of a lot of people given its television premiere last Saturday and it gives me an excuse to write a journal, which I also don't do very often. First off, HEAVY SPOILER ALERT! I WILL BE MAKING IT A POINT TO DISCUSSING THE FILM'S PLOT IN ITS ENTIRETY INCLUDING ITS CLIMAX AND ENDING AMONG OTHER THINGS! Anywhosen, ONTO THE REVIEW!
For those who have already seen the film and/or don't feel like reading my explanation of the plot, skip the next six paragraphs.
Plotwise, the film's main plot actually doesn't focus entirely on the Friendship Games. However, that doesn't mean that the games are absent from the film for it functions as a tool to push the plot along throughout most of the film. The main plot, however, focuses on the human counterpart of Twilight seen from the post-credits ending from Rainbow Rocks (which I will refer to as Other Twilight for the remainder of this review) and her attempts to use the Friendship Games as a means to go to Canterlot High to understand the strange goings on that occurred in the last two films. She plans on using this research as a way to get into the Everton Secret Study Program despite Cadance's suggestion to attempt learning of friendship rather than studying all on her own. While, at first, she has no plans on actually entering the games, she is blackmailed into it by her principal, Abacus Cinch due to her brother, Shining Armor's excellence in the games from his years as a student. She agrees to join the Shadowbolts in the games as its the only way for her to get into the Everton Secret Study Program ala Cinch's blackmail. Meanwhile, at CHS during a rally led by Rainbow Dash for the Friendship Games, Rainbow ponies up leading to one of the film's subplots in which Vice Principal Luna asks Sunset Shimmer to find out why Rainbow ponied up without her guitar so as to keep magic out of the games lest the school be disqualified for cheating. Throughout the film, Sunset struggles with this and frequently messages Twilight back in Equestria using the same book from Rainbow Rocks. Back at Crystal Prep, Other Twilight joins with the rest of the Shadowbolts (much to their obvious dismay) secretly bringing along Spike as well as a device she invented to help her collect data on her research of CHS.
Upon Crystal Prep's entry, Rarity is in the band room showing the rest of the cast outfits that she has made for each of them for the games, despite not knowing what the events are, causing her to pony up. Other Twilight notices this through her device and follows it through the school, oddly being greeted by CHS students all the while. Other Twilight makes it to the band room doors where it drains Rarity's pony energy, weakening her. The others don't dwell on this long for they notice Other Twilight outside the doors and greet her confusing her even further. Principal Celestia and Principal Cinch walk up and Cinch leaves with Other Twilight, revealing to everyone that she is from Crystal Prep. Despite everyone else's concern of playing against Other Twilight in the games, Sunset goes to the portal to Equestria contemplating returning home given that pony Twilight had yet to answer her. At the same time, Other Twilight's device starts to lead her to the portal and sucks out the magic from the portal rending it inert.
During a welcome party shortly after, Pinkie has Other Twilight help her bring in party cannons to lighten the mood between the two schools and ponies up, only for Other Twilight's device to drain the magic from her as well. Sunset takes notice of this and recalls the magic from the portal no longer working, but Other Twilight disappears before she can confront her. Afterwards, the first event of the games begins with the Shadowbolts beating out the Wondercolts at the last minute thanks to Other Twilight. Despite the win, the rest of the Shadowbolts show little caring towards Other Twilight's win. Shortly after, Other Twilight notices that Fluttershy smuggled pets into her school as well and meets with her showing her how she smuggled Spike. Other Twilight tells Fluttershy she is depressed due to the Shadowbolts not acknowledging her win because of a lack of care towards any achievement not done themselves. In an effort to comfort her, Fluttershy has Other Twilight hold Angel Bunny causing her to pony up, only for Other Twilight's device to drain her of her magic and open dimensional rifts to Equestria through which a jackalope appears. Spike chases the jackalope through the portals and runs into some magic allowing him to talk scaring Other Twilight back into CHS. The now talking Spike follows her and calms her down before Principal Cinch finds Other Twilight blackmailing her further to spy on the competitors given their interest in her upon their arrival to CHS, beginning another subplot. After Fluttershy confirms to Sunset how Other Twilight is taking magic from them, the next event begins: the Tri-Cross Relay.
During the event, Other Twilight struggles to do her part and receives no support from the rest of the Shadowbolts. As Applejack and Fluttershy finish their end of the relay, Other Twilight loses more confidence in herself, prompting Applejack to help her out. The other Shadowbolts tell her not to believe her, but Applejack's honesty pulls through allowing Other Twilight to finish her part of the relay as well as causing Applejack to pony up. Other Twilight's device opens up again, draining Applejack's magic and becoming too much for Other Twilight to control, once again causing portals to Equestria during Rainbow and Sunset's portion of the relay. Tentacles go through the portals and knock down Sunset, whom Rainbow Dash goes back to help despite the chance of losing the relay causing her to pony up. Despite the tentacles, Rainbow and Sunset win the relay tying the score in the Friendship Games. Other Twilight manages to close the device and the portals along with it and goes to the CHS competitors to apologize only for the device to steal Rainbow's magic as well. Seeing what Other Twilight has been doing, Sunset blows up on her for messing with magic when she doesn't understand it, causing her to run away in tears while Principal Cinch accuses Celestia and Luna of cheating. Celestia offers to end the game in a tie, but Cinch refuses, confident that they will win regardless. Sunset goes over to Celestia and apologizes for not being able to keep magic from interfering with the games and, despite Celestia's forgiveness, is ashamed of herself for being the one to bring magic there in the first place.
At the start of the final event, Principal Cinch discusses with the Shadowbolts that they will win regardless of CHS cheating in the last event. In doing so, she and the rest of the Shadowbolts convince Other Twilight to release all of the magic in an effort to help them win in the same way Cinch considers the Wondercolts did in the last round. Upon releasing this magic, it becomes too much for Other Twilight or the device to handle. Other Twilight drops the device as the released magic consumes and corrupts her, turning her into (what's apparently called) Midnight Sparkle. Using her newfound magic, Midnight Sparkle begins to open multiple tears in CHS to Equestria, bent on traveling there to understand the magic there, willing to destroy CHS to do it. Noticing the device on the floor, Sunset grabs it and explains to Other Twilight that she will never understand magic because she will remain alone if she goes through with her plan, all the while taking magic from Applejack, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, and Fluttershy and using it on herself, becoming (what's apparently called) Daylight Shimmer and using her magic to close the portals. The two powered-up beings fight for a moment, and when Midnight Sparkle begins to get the upper hand, Spike calls out to her, giving Daylight Shimmer her chance to overtake her. The two end up in a sort of white void where Midnight Sparkle accepts Daylight Shimmer's hand, removing the corrupted magic from within her.
The two turn back into their normal selves and Other Twilight apologizes for what happened. Immediately afterward, Principal Cinch threatens to tell the school board of everything that happened unless CHS forfeits the Friendship Games but is shot down when everyone convinces her that no one will believe her. She storms off and Celestia deems both schools as winners of the games. The next day, Other Twilight decides to follow Cadance's advice and learn about friendship and transfers to CHS. At the same time, Sunset Shimmer realizes why everyone had been ponying up as of late and tells the others that it was because they were showing their most true selves and feels that she didn't need pony Twilight's help, especially due to her own problems as a princess in Equestria. Celestia tells them all of Other Twilight's transfer to CHS and the film ends with a short scene sometime afterward where pony Twilight passes through the portal and apologizes for responding to her replies so late due to a "time travel loop" occuring in Equestria only to see Other Twilight right in front of her.
End of Summary
Just to clarify, I enjoyed this film overall. It's no surprise seeing that I enjoyed the first Equestria Girls film, despite its [many] flaws, and the heavily improved on sequel. In terms of my personal placement of each film from my favorite to least favorite, this comes in second inbetween Rainbow Rocks (being number one) and the first Equestria Girls (being number three). While I did enjoy the film as a whole, there are a few problems with it that I felt the need to point out (hence the reason for this journal) that keep it from beating out Rainbow Rocks.
One problem I had with this film was one of the subplots that didn't go anywhere and that was the Other Twilight spy subplot. This happens right after Spike learns to talk, but it never seems to go anywhere as the next scene with the group does not include her and she is not seen with them again until the second event of the games which eventually spirals into the climax and beyond. Being that this is a short movie, I can see why they weren't able to go through with expanding on this subplot, but that leads me to wonder why they even included it in the first place. However, I find that reason to be a lame excuse as the film was edited for TV, giving the impression that it was always meant to be on Blu-Ray regardless of its running time. Plus, I've always liked the idea of the films (kids film or otherwise) being at least an hour and a half long as that gives them more time to do things like develop the main plot, the subplots, and/or the supporting characters.
Speaking of supporting characters, there's also the inclusion of Spike learning how to talk which suffers from the same problem as the spy subplot. It happens, but the film doesn't really do anything with it. It happens, it's explained, and from then on, Spike is gone until the climax. He and Other Twilight don't share any scenes alone and Spike doesn't do anything impactful until the climax. And there were places where they could have had a scene alone, but I guess it was either not written or cut from the film for whatever reason. This bothers me the most out of anything not only because the film focuses on it but then almost immediately forgets about it, but also because it gives Spike the short end of the stick again like he gets in the show. It seems like Spike was just given the ability to talk to give Cathy Weseluck something to do or to explain how he'd be able to talk if they start a spin off series based on the movies rather than it actually affecting the plot in some manner which makes me think of this as a pointless addition minus the climax to which his contribution is still small enough to cut out of the film and not affect it much if at all. My last problem with the film is in terms of its pacing. While I feel the pacing throughout most of the movie is sound, the pacing of the climax seems to hit the fast forward button and only lasts about five minutes. While I don't find it anticlimatic because of it, I feel that it was too short and rushed considering how the film built up to it.
But despite these problems, I enjoyed the film overall and can see myself watching it again in the future. I enjoyed the songs (Unleash the Magic was my favorite), the characters were just as funny as they always ate, and the story was coherent and made sense. The was a scene or two that I had to examine a bit more, but it made sense once I thought about it long enough. And I'm definitely interested in what scenes the Blu-Ray release has that were deleted from the film for the television debut as we were told was done with all three films. The EQG films have come a long way since the first was released, and while I still find Rainbow Rocks to be the best of the bunch, I still liked Friendship Games for what it was and consider it a very close second.