Monday, February 13, 2017

Reviewer Reviews: City of Doors

So, I finally got around to checking out the images of the new characters for the MLP movie, and... ugh.  I was actually feeling cautiously optimistic about the movie to this point, but if they're going to shunt the main six aside in order to follow the adventures of the worst OCs this side of Coldsteel the Hedgehog (without even the courtesy of doing it ironically; I mean, they literally have a red-and-black broken-horned unicorn wearing form-fitting go-go armour), but now I'm just hoping that it'll fall into the EqG/comics category of "can be safely ignored, if you'd prefer."

Oh, well.  I know what'll put me in a good mood: another round of reviewer reviews!  This time up it's Griffin (on FiMFic, Singularity Dream), best known for keeping up the Big Master Review List, and quite the prolific reviewer himself.

But is he any good?  I investigate, below the break.





The subject:  Griffin's Pony Stories reviews on his website.

Posts examined:  Pony Stories 726, Pony Stories 725, Pony Stories 724, Pony Stories 723, and Pony Stories 722.

Reviewer's schedule:  Nominally daily, though it's not uncommon for a day or three gap to appear after a week or two of sustained posting.

Format:  A brief personal anecdote, followed by reviews of one or more (usually one to three) fics.  These reviews are generally a single paragraph, though occasionally they'll expand a bit larger (especially for longer stories, which are almost always the sole subject of their posts), and focus almost exclusively on the reviewer's reactions to the work.

Rating scale:  None.

What's the goal, here?:  Griffon makes no bones about his blog being more of a means of capturing opinions than an attempt at objective reviewership.  And that's fine!  At least, it's fine when it's not masquerading as something it isn't, and there's no masquerading going on here.  As such, the goal is mostly to express what the reviewer thought of the work, with minimal focus on separating personal feelings from universal flaws.

Reviewer style:  Succinct, with clipped sentences that are occasionally reminiscent of a paragraph-ified list of bullet points.  Griffon doesn't go in for much explication on most matters, instead making a few observations that culminate in (or in some cases, flow from) a statement of his overall opinion.  The most common explication is to either expand on his thoughts on what might happen after the story (or as a result of actions taken in it), or to briefly sketch how he might have done a scene, plot point, or whatever differently were he writing the story.  Reviews also often, but not invariably, include a very brief summary of the core story concept.

What a strong review looks like:
A good look at goddess Luna. One of those ponyfics that isn’t quite an actual story. It being a single short conversation between Twilight and Luna. Yet still was a very sweet moment as Twilight struggles with being in love with a cosmic force in the shape of a pony.

This briefly gives us the main selling point, describes the general story structure, and opens with a six-word summary statement which frames the rest.  It's spartan by design, but communicates everything it's trying to clearly

What a weaker review looks like:
A good Sunset Shimmer story. I liked the version of Sunset that the author builds here. I’d love to read more stories about her, but from what I gather most of the stories in this particular Alternate Universe are scattered around time-wise and not sure how many of them actually involve baconhair littlehorse. Still, both Sunset Shimmer and Twilight Sparkle (and assorted secondary ponies) are constructed quite well.

Here, Griffon never actually gets around to saying what was good about the story!  It has well-portrayed main characters, evidently, but without knowing what "the version of Sunset that the author builds" is actually like (Angry and jealous?  Full of self-doubt?  Actually the CMC in a clever disguise?), I suspect this is a review that even the reviewer himself won't find particularly helpful if he looks back at it a few months from now.

So, should I read this?:  Griffon's biggest selling point is quantity, rather than depth.  If you're looking for a highly detailed breakdown of a story... well, that's explicitly not what this is.  But if you're more interested in summary judgement on a wide variety of works--similar to looking at the critical blurb on a movie's Rotten Tomatoes page, if you want to think of it like that--then this offers a steady supply to peruse.


22 comments:

  1. I dunno, I kinda like Queen Novo, and Princess Skystar's kinda cute. Capper's not bad, but he looks like he belongs in a different movie. Tempest Shadow's definitely the worst

    "Actually the CMC in a clever disguise?"

    I immediately thought of this (last panel) when I read that

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    1. With you on the different movie bit. I guess there's already been that kind of anthro in the show, between young dragons and the diamond dogs (though even there I'd argue the implementation better fit the aesthetic), but otherwise, has there been anything close but minotaurs? And they came modified from Greek mythology that had already been used with griffins, Pegasus, (were Cerberus/Tartarus later?), later the chimera, plus the general Greco-Roman look of Cloudsdale. But they still looked more similar in style, generally a bit rounder, big blunted limbs (except for Iron Will's legs, which were a joke), that sort of thing.

      This guy... maybe he'll look better in context. The main cast does look like their designs or implementations might have been subtly altered in that poster, which could help.

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  2. Singularity Dream's list is amazing. I keep coming back to it because it's an impressive and comprehensive database, and it's good someone's taking the time to organize the reviews. Ah me, why can't more people see the delights of detailed statistics?

    As for the movie: don't particularly care. The only design that vaguely interested me was the one that looked like Grogar, what's-his-face, Stormrunner. The rest look a little too overdesigned to be sharing screentime with the simpler TV-suitable specifications of our main characters. At least one thing that might attract my attention would be if they actually make it about the main characters we enjoy, rather than make it a showcase for overdesigned OCs on parade.

    Heck, add "certain episodes" to that list of things that can be safely ignored. Fanon Discontinuity is a wonderful, wonderful thing (just ask Quibble Pants). It's like historical revisionism, but without the guilt or intellectual dishonesty and with a lot more distilled satisfaction. >:D

    'but if they're going to shunt the main six aside in order to follow the adventures of the worst OCs this side of Coldsteel the Hedgehog... but now I'm just hoping that it'll fall into the EqG/comics category of "can be safely ignored, if you'd prefer."'

    I get the impression there are one too many "buts" here.

    No one make a joke about that. -_-

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    1. Seconded re the BMRL. I doubt anyone much outside the fanfic world even knows it exists, but it's a superb resource.

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  3. C'mon, Chris, where's your sense of wonder and adventure? :V Just add the red and black OC to the list of "things the show does two years after the fandom", alongside Flutterbat and Flutterhulk!

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    1. On this one it's looking like 7-8... it was already a joke by late 2012, right?

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    2. Pretty sure it predates our fandom. It was definitely around in 2011, at least. The show introduced Sombra in November 2012 (he even had those disgusting gradients!), so it didn't take them long at all

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    3. But apart from some misguided choices in the comics, Sombra and Tirek are full-on bad guys. Even with the color scheme, Tempest Shadow's appearance and marketing presentation aren't strongly indicating that.

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  4. Also, she's technically neon pink and an incredibly dark shade of purple.

    Not even the DHX animators could bring it upon themselves to go full red and black. :P

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  5. I'm hoping that Tempest has been designed in that "edgy" way deliberately, rather in the way that Tirek was coloured red and black. But I'm prepared to be disappointed. I'll go to see the film in the cinema anyway, since it's not as if we're overrun with MLP movies. But... yeah.

    Mind you, when you consider that the very first MLP cartoon contained "Shoo-be-doo", should we really be surprised by anything?

    Captain Celaeno is the character who interests me most, given that her name is that of a harpy. I want some Greek mythology in MLP again, dammit.

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    1. Oh crap! I forgot all about Tirek. I don't think he was as bad as Sombra. It almost suited him

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  6. Damn, I just looked at the voice actors list. The movie is really gonna follow around a bunch of OCs instead of the mane six? Who's shitty idea was that? How is the fandom not eating itself out of rage from this?

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  7. On the bright side, just because the actors are relatively big-name doesn't mean the characters will actually be important. Where's this idea that the mane six will be "shunted aside" coming from?

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    1. A recent post on EQD suggests this won't be the case at all.

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    2. That's what I want to know!!!!! This is the only and ONLY place that is acting like that these characters are going to shunt the mane six aside and that we will be following them instead of the mane six.

      Chris, you are smarter than this. You are a great reviewer and one of the best, why do you think that the mane six are being shunted to the side?

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  8. I'm not too thrilled by the look of Tempest Shadow myself. I still hold out a little hope that she'll actually be a good character with a reason to look like that, and not just the bad OC we're fearing; I still remember back when everyone was freaking out about the first images of King Sombra for the exact same reasons.

    But, at the same time... the new character being essentially a bad OC who steals the limelight away from the actual main cast? If you ask me, I think that's a reasonable thing to fear ever since the season 7 event episodes became the Starlight Glimmer Show.

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    1. DannyJ, reporting from the future!

      No, but seriously, "bad OC takes place of main characters" has already happened, and people fucking loved it. <.<

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    2. And besides S6, there's something similar going on in the EQG movies (to a greater or lesser extent depending on which movie and which character--I'm looking at you, L of E Rarity D:< ), just with weaker versions of the Mane Six. But there we got Sunset and Sci-Twi.

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    3. When you're right, you're right. :D

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  9. Griffin's short reviews always seem to hit that sweet spot for me. Not enough to get me to read a fic, but enough to investigate it further to see if I should add it.

    And yeah, the BMRL is a treasure!

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