“Some people say that fairies are the stuff of fantasy. They think the world is just what you can touch and hear and see, while others say the tales and legends cannot be dismissed. They believe with all their hearts that fairies truly do exist. Through all of time, human beings and fairies never met, till one special summer that we shall not soon forget.”
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, Tinkerbell 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 third of at least five 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. 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. The result is a quite amazing to look at.
Tinker Bell (Whitman) is on her way to Fairy Camp for the summer. It’s her first time out in the mundane world of the mainland. To say that she’s excited is putting it mildly. There are rules, and the most important rule of all is not to go near the humans. Fairies and humans have never met, and the fairies intend to keep it that way. But when Tinker Bell hears the sound of an approaching automobile, the tinker inside of her just can’t resist. With Vidia (Adlon) in tow to keep her out of trouble, Tinker Bell explores the marvelous machine. It is then that she is captivated by young Lizzie. Lizzie’s father is a busy academian and has little time to have fun with the young girl. She lives in an imaginary world where fairies are real. She spends her days painting and drawing her fairy pictures. She’s also built a fairy house for her imaginary friends. Tinker Bell finds the house irresistible and checks it out. But a joke gone bad by Vidia traps Tinker Bell in the house when Lizzie comes to collect it.
Back in Lizzie’s room, Tinker Bell is threatened by the fat feline Mr. Twitches. Vidia is horrified and runs back to camp to alert the others. It’s a rainy day, and fairies can’t fly when their wings are wet, so the rescue team heads out in a makeshift boat to rescue Tinker Bell. But Tinker Bell is fine and bonding with Lizzie. While Tinker Bell can understand when humans talk, fairy voices sound like the tinkling of a small bell to humans. Still, the two learn to communicate, and Tinker Bell teaches Lizzie all about the fairy world. Lizzie fills up one of her father’s scientific journal books with the information. She expects him to be proud, but he merely dismisses the fanciful ranting of his young daughter. That is, until Tinker Bell gets so mad that she flies over to give him a piece of her mind. But in an unfortunate series of events, Vidia gets captured in a jar, where she’s headed to the university to be studied. Lizzie, with the help of some pixie dust, joins the fairies in one more daring rescue.
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. This film is actually even easier to watch as an adult than the previous ones. The adventure was less of a magical mythology and more of an interaction with the mundane world. I’d like to see these films follow more closely to this path.
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 DTS-HD Master Audio 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.
Deleted Scenes: (14:44) There are four scenes here with a handy play-all. There is also an option to provide an introduction to each scene. Most are presented in the traditional storyboard format. There is one finished scene involving an encounter between Tinker Bell and Mr. Twitches.
Music Video: (3:02) Demi Bridget Mendker performs “How To Believe”.
There are additional games and activities including a lesson on building your own fairy house.
This film begins the climb toward the Tinker Bell mythology we have always had with Disney. Tinker Bell lets Lizzie fly just as she will with the Wendy and the others in Peter Pan. The next film as already been announced and involves a winter adventure for Tink and her friends. Perhaps the film will involve the holidays. I’m not sure exactly where they’re going with all of this, but that’s really the beauty, isn’t it? “You don’t have to understand. You just have to believe.”
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