“A changing of the seasons brings wonder to the world. For ages has the magic of the fairies been unfurled. But nature’s greatest changes come beneath the Autumn sky and mysteries reveal themselves as harvest time draws nigh. This year a shimmering blue moon will rise before the frost. Perhaps its rays can light the way to find what has been lost.”
After giving us Tinker Bell’s origin story in the first film of this franchise, we get a chance to look even more deeply into this wonderland of fairies and magic. Ever wonder where that magical pixie dust comes from that allows fairies to fly? The origin of the substance is explored here. It seems there is a grand tree that produces the dust. Dust keepers care for the tree and cultivate the dust. They distribute it to all of the fairies on a rationing basis. Every 8 years the tree needs to be renewed or it will grow too weak and perish. On the 8th Autumn the fairies put on a revelry to celebrate the season and the new life the tree is about to be given. When the harvest moon rises, its rays will pass through the precious blue moonstone and those rays will create blue pixie dust. It is this snowlike blue dust that revitalizes the tree and the entire existence of Pixie Hollow.
“Journey due North past Neverland ‘til a faraway island is close at hand. When you’re alone but not alone, you will find help and an arch of stone. There’s only one way across the isle’s North ridge, but a price must be paid at the old troll bridge. At journey’s end, you shall walk the plank of the ship that sunk but never sank. And in the ship’s hold amidst gems and gold, a wish come true awaits we’re told. But, beware and be warned. There’s a trick to this clue. Wish only good will or no good will come you. For the treasure you seek you may yet come to rue.”
Each revelry a scepter is made to hold the moonstone up to the light of the harvest moon. This year the honor of making the scepter has been given to Tinker Bell (Whitman). She’s given the help of her best friend, dustkeeper Terrence (McCartney). Terrence ends up getting on her nerves trying to be helpful. When his help leads to the destruction of her finished scepter, Tinker Bell is angry. Her anger ends up leading to the destruction of the one of a kind moonstone. Without the stone there will be no blue pixie dust. That means an end to their fairy existence as they know it. When she attends a performance of Fairy Tale Theater, she learns of the legend of a mirror that went down with a pirate ship long ago. It was a wish-granting mirror with a single wish remaining. Tinker Bell builds an airship and sets out to find the magical mirror with the hope of fixing the moonstone in time for the harvest moon. She ends up with a pesky lightning bug named Blaze as an unwanted stowaway, but the two become fast friends on their journey to find the mirror. It’s a case of be careful what you wish for, and Tinker Bell with the support of her friends must find an answer before it’s too late.
Tinker Bell has been a Walt Disney icon almost since its inception. The character has gone way beyond her appearance in Peter Pan. In the decades since, she has come to represent the magic of Walt Disney and its many incarnations. Seen at the beginning of every Disney title, Tinker Bell is likely as recognizable as Mickey Mouse and his many friends. John Lassiter and the animators of Disney’s new CG animation studios take on this monumental character in the first of at least 5 announced films to feature the little fairy. Lassiter brings his best magic, learned developing Pixar over the years, to create a feature that rivals the Pixar brand in quality and technological presentation. The animation is incredible, bringing to life this corner of Neverland called Pixie Hollow. The CG environments are absolutely beautiful. With the help of Pixar, Disney has made the same strides in computer animation that it once made in traditional hand drawn animation. This picture is light years ahead of almost anything else I’ve seen outside of Pixar itself. Understand that this is a direct to video production with far less of a budget than a theatrical release, and the look of this world is even more incredible. Characters interpret with effortless smoothness, and the result is a nearly 3D presentation. There’s a clever blend of this computer imagery with some classic looking animation that helps to bridge the gap between the two styles. The result is a quite unique look that is pretty amazing to look at.
Once again, we really shouldn’t forget who the target audience is for this franchise. We’re talking about little girls here who fancy themselves princesses in their own magical fairyland. Since this reviewer does not fit into that target demographic, I have needed to adjust my perception of the film a bit. It’s important to acknowledge the film’s purpose, but it’s also fair to ask the question: Can it serve beyond that limited viewership. After all, parents, brothers, and even teachers will be required to watch along. There were moments I found myself amused enough to laugh along with some of the obvious jokes. The running time was also short enough and the film moved along quickly enough that I never found myself sneaking a peek at the clock. That means parents can feel good about sitting down with their young daughters with the expectation of sharing an hour and a half of simple quality time without having their minds wander too far away themselves. The obvious themes of friendship are good ones, and the film survives without the crude humor that populates much children’s animation fare these days. It’s an enjoyable enough 80 minutes. There’s not much here for the adults, but I don’t think this one will drive you crazy. The music is actually pretty good and easy on the ears. It’s actually a cut above the first film in this ongoing franchise.
Tinker Bell is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It’s a wonderful 1080p image utilizing an AVC/MPEG-4 codec. The bit rate stays a healthy 30mbps through much of the film. Everything is so shiny and bright, and that’s to be expected. What truly stands out, however, isn’t the bright colors and marvelous textures. What stands out here is the 3D look and feel of it all. It’s almost as if you’re looking at this world through a window in your television. Maybe the kids aren’t as hung up on all of those bells and whistles; I don’t know. What I do know is that the crew behind this presentation decided to do it right no matter who was watching or what their expectations might be.
The PCM lossless 5.1 track delivers, maybe not in such a spectacular way as the image, but it’s still well done. Separation is excellent, but there aren’t a lot of ambients here. There could have been in such a complicated and lively world, but the focus is maintained in the front speakers. Dialog is always clear. There is a wonderful Celtic soundtrack that does absolutely shine at times. I’m a sucker for that kind of music anyway, but I was happy to encounter it with such clarity here. Not much in the way of subs. Again, I’m not sure how much of this the kids are really looking for.
Magical Guide To Pixie Hollow: (4:47) HD This is billed as a bonus short, but it’s not an animated cartoon, not really. It features the voices of the leads but little more than animated storyboards. Shallow and thin, this one will bore the kids and the adults.
Outtakes and Bloopers: (20:00) HD Made up bloopers and 8 deleted scenes are offered here. The bloopers are in full animation while the deleted scenes are something called a story reel. Director Klay Hall and producer Sean Lurie talk entirely too much here in the way of scene introductions and guided footage.
Pixie Hollow Comes To Disney World: (8:00) Every Spring Epcot Center features a Pixie Hollow exhibit with tons of sculpted hedges and flowers. Go behind the scenes to see how they do it.
Music Video: (3:41) Demi Lovato performs the song “The Gift of a Friend”.
She’s one of Disney’s earliest and most recognizable characters. It’s a natural franchise for the studio and features work from many of the Pixar talent now at home in the studio. It won’t work well for the boys, but if you have a little girl she’ll likely enjoy these films considerably. You’ll have to watch along, but then “Every dustkeeper has to study dustology.”