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I have been looking at that cover image for more than a minute, trying to figure out Dash's legs.
Also, review #100! Woo! Let's celebrate by, um... staring silently at our computer monitors as we read on. Below, my review of Jelly's 6 Angry Mares.
Impressions before reading: I've never seen Twelve Angry Men, though I'm familiar enough with the highlights. That, and it's been on my to-watch list for ages. I like the simplicity of this piece's premise: the main six, all stuck in a jury room together. I'm hoping for some good characterizations out of this one--I suspect that's what's going to make or break the story.
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Following the trial of a zebra accused of casting an irreversible curse, the six ponies of the jury retire to deliberate.
Thoughts after reading: Although it's tagged a crossover, that doesn't really capture what's going on in this story. 6 Angry Mares is essentially Twelve Angry Men, as performed by the ponies. Although they have hooves instead of hands and do "evil enchantress" dances, these ponies are unambiguously not the six main characters from FiM. Instead, they're some sort of amalgam of those ponies and the major players from the movie (and apparently, teleplay).
For me, this didn't make for a particularly good fit. Frankly, I found myself wondering why this story was written in the first place. If you aren't going to use the Pinkie and Fluttershy from the show, then why use them at all? Why not use ponies whose backgrounds aren't already a matter of canon? Why deliberately run roughshod over both character background and characterization for the sake of matching the inspiration for your plot more closely?
The author clearly made an effort to meld the two, borrowing liberally from Pinkie's early dialogue in Bridle Gossip to paint her as a frothing (and apparently, very sweaty) bigot and making Twilight the by-the-books taskmaster of the group, but it was never a particularly convincing meld. Large chunks of dialogue were obviously lifted straight from Twelve Angry Men (this coming from someone who's never actually seen it, mind you), and a lot of it was frankly unconvincing coming from the mouths of the ponies. Just having "juror #1" say "darling" every few sentences doesn't make her a convincing Rarity, and when she starts doing things like threatening (with apparent sincerity, mind you) to sew Pinkie's lips shut if she continues to spout Klan-esque anti-zebra-isms, I can only wonder what the purpose of such a literal translation of the source material into the MLP universe is.
This might not have been an unpardonable problem in another story, but sadly my pre-reading supposition proved to be all too correct: characterization is everything here. The entirety of the story is just the ponies sitting in the jury room, debating the trial and the decision they face. Now, there's nothing wrong with that; indeed, examining a high-stakes social scenario in-depth can be downright fascinating. But it means that the unblinking light of the narrative is focused unrelentingly on the nuances of the characters, and when those characters are poorly executed... well, it's not good.
I will grant that the story construction is nigh-perfect on a technical front, and that my complaints regarding the writing itself are minor at best (although I suppose it was another nod to the source material, I really wish the narrative had stopped referring to the ponies by jury number and started using their names at some point). And stripped of any connection to Equestria, the scenario is certainly interesting. But that's just the problem: stripped of any connection to Equestria, this is at best a slightly modified retelling of Twelve Angry Men. Everything about this that makes it a fanfic, as opposed to a retelling, weakens the story by bringing in disparate elements that ill fit one another.
Star rating: ★☆☆☆☆ (what does this mean?)
Although I tried very hard not to compare this story to The Best Night Ever while reading and reviewing it (and while in principle, I believe it's unfair to do so), I think a certain, limited comparison between the two is relevant in retrospect. Both are fairly literal crossovers of films which don't necessarily blend smoothly with MLP. The reason The Best Night Ever worked so well was because despite this, the author wasn't afraid to scrap, add, or re-imagine major elements from the ground up when the narrative demanded it, and allowed his characters to speak and act in ways which closely matched their, well, characters. 6 Angry Mares, unfortunately, shoehorned its cast into ill-fitting roles, and was often nothing more than a literal retelling of the film it was inspired by. Sadly, this turned out to be a very typical example of the pitfalls of writing "X, but with ponies."
Recommendation: If the thrill of seeing ponies reenacting Twelve Angry Men is something you seek, by all means give this a go--as I said above, the actual writing's quite unobjectionable. But if you're looking for anything other than that--a story which in some way meshes with MLP, for example--I'd look elsewhere.
Next time: Rest Stop, by John Perry