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by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)
Mae Whitman as TINKER BELL
Raven-Symone as IRIDESSA
America Ferrera as FAWN
Lucy Liu as SILVERMIST
Kristin Chenoweth as ROSETTA
Anjelica Huston as QUEEN CLARION
Jesse MrcCartney as TERRENCE
Directed by: Bradley Raymond
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My coolness factor has been lowered considerably in the eyes of my two oldest boys, ages five and seven. It wasn’t long ago that I not only gave the 50th Anniversary Platinum Edition of “Sleeping Beauty” a glowing review, but I admitted to them that it’s one of my favorite animated Disney films. Now I’m delivering the second blow in a one-two punch...
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I like the new “Tinker Bell” movie.
This film has had such a tumultuous time to make it to DVD. It faced significantly high production costs for a direct-to-DVD title several years ago before the initial version was scrapped by new animation chief John Lasseter. After a reboot at the studio, the movie has made it to the video shelves, with the promise of three more features in the coming years.
I don’t know what this movie was like in earlier forms, but the final version is a cute, colorful, fun film for Tinker Bell fans.
The movie gives us a look at Tinker Bell’s origins in Pixie Hollow. It begins with her creation and her introduction to the world of fairies. We get a peek into the magical world where the fairies are responsible for all the changes in the natural world.
Tinker is eager to help in the change of seasons, and she looks forward to traveling to the mainland to help out. However, she soon learns that she’s a Tinker fairie, and her job is to build and fix things in Pixie Hollow. Tinker Bell doesn’t want any part of this, seeing it as a boring life, so she tries (with humorous results) to learn the jobs of the other fairies before discovering that it is best to be yourself.
It’s clear from the marketing surrounding the impending Tinker Bell franchise that Disney is planning to make the Disney Fairies the new version of the Disney Princesses. That’s a welcome thing in my mind, considering the Disney Princesses have been done up quite a bit over the past decade or so. Let’s give a chance to Tinker Bell and her friends.
I will say that I was very impressed with the animation in “Tinker Bell.” While not at the level of a Pixar film (and honestly, what is?), this direct-to-DVD has a fresh feel and a rich texture. The characters don’t look canned or rough. The world of the fairies seems built from scratch with care and love. And the design of the characters have a unique look that would be worthy of a theatrical release. God bless John Lasseter.
The story itself is relatively simple, but that’s what makes it work. As an inaugural step into the greater world of fairies, which will be expanded upon with subsequent releases, this was a nice way to establish a greater canvas for Tinker Bell who has normally been a prop, albeit an adorable prop, in the Disney canon.
There’s a definite message, but it is an appropriate one for Tinker Bell’s precocious nature. And considering that the target audience for this and future films is going to be young girls, there’s nothing wrong with a message that tells them it’s okay to be themselves.
The “TinkerBell” includes a Tinker Trainer DVD-ROM activity as well as a three-part guide to the land of Pixie Hollow. There’s also a short film that suggests how fairies might interact in our daily lives, as well as a music video for Disney’s latest teen star, Selena Gomez. Finally, if you can find the Easter egg access to “The Mainland” in the Bonus Features menu, you’ll find a there’s a behind-the-scenes video on the making of the film and some deleted scenes.
As the Disney studios have developed their characters into properties, there have been plenty of hits and misses on the direct-to-DVD front. However, giving Tinker Bell a fresh start in such an invigorating way is great to see. It’s a huge improvement than the typical direct-to-DVD animated sequel that just tells the story of a character’s son or daughter.
In this sense, Tinker Bell has been given the star treatment. There’s plenty of material to mine from Pixie Hollow, which will hopefully provide a rich source for future films.