THE PIRATE FAIRY
MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **1/2 (out of 5)
Mae Whitman as TINKER BELL
Christina Hendricks as ZARINA
Tom Hiddleston as JAMES
Lucy Liu as SILVERMIST
Raven-Symoné as IRIDESSA
Megan Hilty as ROSETTA
Pamela Adlon as VIDIA
Angela Bartys as FAWN
Directed by: Peggy Holmes
BY KEVIN CARR
Over the years, I’ve had a bit of a love/hate relationship with the Disney direct-to- video sequels and spin-offs. Because Disney is a company that knows how to diversify its brands and develop franchises even in smaller form (because not everything can be Marvel or Star Wars), it will take characters from a classic films and bring them to brand new stories.
Sometimes this works great, like how they handled the “Lilo and Stitch” offshoots in the 2000s, which included a clever TV series and several adorable direct-to-video sequels. Sometimes it can be iffy, like some of the in-series sequels to their big movies like “Cinderella II” and “The Little Mermaid II.”
Maybe it’s the steadier hand of John Lasseter in charge of the animation department, but I’ve noticed an improvement in the overall quality of the bigger sequels that never make it to the big screen. The Tinker Bell franchise is a great example of this.
Tinker Bell started getting her own movies about a half-dozen years ago, and for the most part, they’ve far exceeded my expectations for a direct-to-video series. These aren’t films that speak down to young girls excited about Disney Fairies as an alternative to the Disney Princesses. These are bona fide adventures that challenge the imagination and have some really impressive visuals.
The latest in the Tinker Bell saga is “The Pirate Fairy.” This computer animated film follows a maverick fairy named Zarina (Christina Hendricks) who has ambitions beyond just managing the pixie dust that has powered her kind for years. After a minor disaster, Zarina takes off on her own. Tinker Bell (Mae Whitman) and her friends go on an adventure to find Zarina and stop her partnership with untrustworthy pirates, including the most famous one in Neverland.
Part of the charm of “The Pirate Fairy” is the use of the visuals and expansion of the characters. Sure, things get corny at times with predictable dialogue and characters that are overly committed to their shtick, but this is fine for a kids movie.
There’s hints of Disney building a bigger brand within Tinker Bell’s world by introducing us to the origin of Captain Hook, played quite nicely by Tom Hiddleston. After all, the world of Peter Pan has always meant pirates, and it’s nice to see the crossover in stories.
“The Pirate Fairy” is a fine film for children to enjoy with their parents. Sure, it did not have a theatrical release outside of the limited screenings done for promotional purposes, but you wouldn’t necessarily know that when watching it on Blu-ray. It’s not at the level of films like “Frozen” or “Tangled,” but it’s superior to many of the lesser animated movies coming out in theaters from smaller studios like “Free Birds.”
The Blu-ray comes with an additional DVD and Digital Copy in HD. Bonus features include sing-along songs, deleted scenes and several behind-the-scenes videos: “Second Star to the Right: the Legacy of Never Land,” “Croc-u-mentary” and “The Making of ‘The Frigate That Flies.’”