A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Legend of Everfree follows three earlier DVD releases starring the human, teen versions of the characters from My Little Pony. This successful rendition of the Pony brand was designed by Hasbro to appeal to older kids and tweens and doesn't retain the younger, kid-friendly, gentle tone of the original films, particularly in this story. The Girls, headed by Twilight Sparkle, join other kids from Canterlot High School for a week at Camp Everfree in a beautiful rural setting. They encounter numerous strange occurrences, including ghostly spirits and scary personal nightmares, and they're introduced to the legend of Gaea, a giant, evil, rock-toothed creature. Most surprising to them, they each begin to discover magical abilities of their own. There's lots of suspense, visual images of the girls in danger, and a climactic battle that may be frightening for younger or more sensitive kids. This release is tied to a whole new line of Everfree Equestria Girls dolls and toys, as well as a six-tune soundtrack from this film. Appropriate only for kids who are comfortable with pretend scares and action.
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What's the story?
All the kids from Canterlot High are excited about their trip to Camp Everfree in MY LITTLE PONY EQUESTRIA GIRLS: LEGEND OF EVERFREE. Only Twilight Sparkle (voiced by Tara Strong) is worried. She's been having nightmares about her "alter ego," the very wicked Midnight Sparkle, whom she's afraid she can't control. What if Twilight's "Midnight" personality shows up at Camp Everfree? Sunset Shimmer (Rebecca Shoichet) tries to calm her friend, but Twilight is still nervous. When they get to the camp, run by the energetic Gloriosa Daisy (Enid Ray Adams) and her brother, Timber Spruce (Brian Doe), things go swimmingly -- at least at first. After an eerie storytelling session about an evil spirit (the title's "Legend") around the first night's campfire, a series of strange, unsettling events upset everyone. The dock the teens are building as a gift for the camp is destroyed. An earthquake shakes the surroundings. And, one after another, the other girls, Applejack, Pinkie Pink, Rarity, and Fluttershy discover magic in themselves that they'd never been aware of. Poor Twilight, she thinks it's all her fault that Midnight Sparkle has managed to take control of her. What the girls don't know is that Gloriosa and Timber are faced with losing the camp to a greedy developer, Filthy Rich, and have pulled out all the stops to keep their camp out of his hands. The machinations of the camp owners, the new powers of the Equestria Girls, and the unexpected return of the Legend herself come together to provide a danger-filled climax. Will Camp Everfree ever be the same?
Is it any good?
While My Little Pony attracts all ages with its gentleness and positive messages, the Equestria Girls subsidiary is aimed at tweens, so peril, spookiness, and trendiness take center stage. The six main characters are engaging and attractive even as they're superficial and one-dimensional -- here's the fashionista, there's the athlete, and the animal whisperer is quietly saving the planet one squirrel at a time. There are lots of references to characters and situations from the three earlier DVD stories, so kids new to the brand may be wishing for a little help with backstory. Still, despite that, the forgettable songs and the fact that the plot is dense (with multiple antagonists), My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Legend of Everfree has enough going for it to appeal to old fans and new audiences as well. Hasbro has created this franchise to compete with tween-favorites such as Monster High, Barbie, and Scooby-Doo! -- all runaway money-makers. It's OK for kids who are clear about real vs. cartoon violence.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the many new toys and products released at the same time as My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Legend of Everfree. How are these new dolls different from the ones already online or on the shelves of stores? Do the changes (costumes and so on) encourage you to add the new dolls to your collection? Why is it important to be aware of the benefits of cross-marketing to the manufacturers?
With the Equestria Girls brand, what changes to the existing My Little Pony characters did Hasbro make to appeal to older kids? What is different about the tone of the movies? How have the stories been altered?
How did Sunset Shimmer help Twilight Sparkle in this story? What made her such a good friend? If you've seen earlier Equestria Girls movies in which those two characters were villains, are you surprised that they're now very likable heroines? Do you think people can learn from their mistakes and change their behavior?
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