Rainbow Rocks opens during the final moments of the first Equestria Girls film as three teenage girls (Adagio, Sonata and Aria), who are obviously up to no good, spot Twilight and her friends’ exploding rainbow of Equestrian magic burst up into the into the sky a short distance away near Canterlot High. We quickly discover that they have some magic of their own and can use their voices and special amulets to feed on the chaos they’ve created and grow stronger. They want the magic in that rainbow, so they can become powerful enough to rule the world.
The action jumps ahead to a time when a now-reformed Sunset Shimmer has rejoined the school and students have started to (at least partially) forgive her for becoming all demony and trying to take over. The human versions of the Mane 5 Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, Apple Jack and Fluttershy (Non-Equestrian Twilight is still far off in the City doing who knows what) have formed a band called the Rainbooms and when they play their music they still have a bit of Twilight’s Equestrian magic in them and their pony ears pop out and their hair grows into long tails.
Led by Adagio, the trio of mean girls, known as The Dazzlings, enroll at Canterlot High and start hypnotizing the students with their melodic evil magic, but the the Rainbooms and Sunset Shimmer are unaffected by the evil magic. Using her magic, Adagio convinces Principal Celestia to turn the school’s friendly musical showcase into an all out “Battle of the Bands”, which is just the start of Adagio’a master evil plan.
Realizing that something is up with these girls Sunset Shimmer convinces the others that they need to contact Princess Twilight Sparkle in Equestria for help. Through some nice little plot mechanics, Twilight finds a way to come back through the portal and help her human friends.
Without giving too much more away, let’s just say we eventually learn a lot more about the evil threesome and where they came from, there are quite a few great spontaneous kid dance-inducing new songs by Daniel Ingram, humorous running gags with Trixie, Pinkie Pie and Sunset Shimmer, awesome cameos from fan-favorite characters, a fun music montage for the Battle of The Bands and an epic final showdown of good vs. evil in an attempt to restore peace, harmony and friendship back to the Canterlot High. Oh and lest I forget, a seemingly Orphan Black inspired post credit sequence that nicely sets up a third Equestria Girls film.
Rainbow Rocks is a fantastic sequel and in some ways even better than the original. Don’t get me wrong, our entire family loved the first film and have watched it more times than I can count. Even I often will find myself randomly humming songs from Daniel Ingram’s uber catchy soundtrack and it was a blast to see how Twilight awkwardly dealt with becoming a human. However, the sequel has an equally as memorable soundtrack and a more interesting storyline.
The animated TV series (especially in the most recent seasons) focused a lot on Twilight Sparkle and so it was nice to see Twilight take a bit of a supporting role in this film with the focus shifted more on the other characters and especially Sunset Shimmer and how she’s dealt with the aftermath of going all crazy in the first film.
Even the cinematography and the creativeness of the shots (the Battle of The Bands montage sequence and final battle in particular) felt very cinematic and felt like a step up visually from the first film.
The script is well-written, with lots of laugh out loud moments. The voice acting is superb and the ten new songs span a variety of musical styles. Fans of the series will appreciate the plethora of the cameos and running gags. The pacing is perfect and with a runtime of only about 75 minutes, Rainbow Rocks is a great ‘watch anytime’ type of movie.
My girls (ages 5 and 7.5) are My Little Pony fanatics. Our house is filled with My Little Pony dolls, pillows, games, toys, stickers, etc.. You name it, we probably own it. My five year-old just had a Rainbow Rocks-themed birthday party and last year the two girls dressed as Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash for Halloween. This year they are going as the Rainbow Rocks versions of Rarity and Fluttershy. Needless to say, from the moment there was even a teaser announcing that an Equestria Girls sequel was coming, my younger daughter was asking (almost daily at one point) when it was coming out. We saw it in the theater during its Limited engagement run earlier this month and they’ve already watched this DVD numerous times. It did not disappoint!
When I asked my daughters why they liked the second movie more than the first, the older one (a fan of fashion) said “because they all have rainbow hair and each has two different outfits”. The younger one (who always likes to try to make everyone feel better) said “because Sunset Shimmer was nice.” Now what more reason do you need than that?
The picture quality on the DVD version that we reviewed looked crisp and detailed, and the colors were nice and vivid. The 5.1 Surround sound was excellent and made the musical numbers really pop. There is also a really entertaining commentary track with Mike Vogel (VP of Development at Hasbro Studios), Brian Leonard (Executive Director of Hasbro Studios), Meghan McCarthy (Screenwriter), and Jayson Theiessen and Ishi Rudell (the Director and Co-director of the film). While I’m not sure how much this will appeal to younger kids, the commentary track offered a cool peek behind the curtain as they talked about the making of the film, decisions that were made and venture into MST3K style poking fun at the film itself at times. I found it to be quite engaging.
Other extras include the 8 Prequel shorts which Hasbro released on the web leading up to the film as well as 3 sing-alongs for the songs Better Than Ever, Battle and Rainbooms Battle. The only thing that was missing was a “play all” button for the shorts.
Both a a stand-along DVD version as well as a Blu-ray combo pack which comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD as well as a digital version of the film are available. While the DVD release looks spotless, I’d recommend spending the extra few dollars on the combo pack so that you can leave the DVD in the car, watch the Blu-ray at home and load up the digital copy on your mobile device for playback anywhere.
It’s worth noting that while reviewing the DVD, I did stumble across an unfortunate mastering issue which causes sections of the film to be played out of order. Shout! Factory is offering replacement discs to people affected by the issue and has released a formal statement (which I’ve included below). I did find that if I started the film from the ‘chapter selection’ screen, then it played through properly, so this may be a useful workaround you can try until a replacement disc arrives. And if you want to listen to the commentary track, just switch audio tracks once you’ve started the film in this manner.
Official Statement from Shout! Factory
There is an error with the My Little Pony Equestria Girls Rainbow Rocks DVDs that affects all DVD product initially shipped and on store shelves beginning 10/28/14 in the U.S. and Canada. The error causes chapters 5 and 6 to play in reverse when the DVD is played from the main menu ‘Play’ listing. Customers who navigate to the chapters menu and begin playback from the first chapter do not experience the same error and will see the story sequenced as it was meant to be seen. The Blu-rays and the digital copies for sale or included in the Combo pack are not affected, but the DVD inside the Combo pack will also have the outlined error.
This is a very unfortunate error and we are deeply sorry for any inconvenience it may cause. If you have purchased a DVD with the error, please visit http://bit.ly/1tdBGZE. Shout! Factory will be shipping replacement DVDs directly to customers, and replacement product to stores, as soon as possible.
- 480p / Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
- Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1
- Closed Captions
- Audio Commentary
Feature commentary by Mike Vogel (VP of Development at Hasbro Studios), Brian Leonard (Executive Director of Hasbro Studios), Meghan McCarthy (Screenwriter), and Jayson Theiessen and Ishi Rudell (the Director and Co-director of the film).
- 8 Prequel Shorts
Eight two-and-a-half minute shorts. There is no Play All option.
Sing along to “Better Than Ever”, “Battle” and “Rainbooms Battle”.
To paraphrase one of its songs, My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks is ‘better…better than ever’. With a great story, running gags, loads of cameos and a complete soundtrack of fresh new songs. Rainbow Rocks is a highly entertaining film for both younger and older fans of the series and we can’t wait to see where it goes next. This is a must have movie for any My Little Pony fan.