Written by Caballero Oscuro
She’s no Disney Princess, but Tinker Bell has entered the spotlight as a key Disney player in the past few years via the Disney Fairies product line and a series of slickly-produced direct-to-DVD CGI movies. In her latest outing, a follow-up to last year’s warmly received Tinker Bell, Tink goes on a treasure hunt that takes her far away from her beloved Pixie Hollow home. Along the way, she learns the value of patience and the power of friendship.
If you missed the first movie, you may be surprised to find that Tink talks now and she’s not hanging out with Peter Pan; she’s firmly embedded in a fairy community where she works as a tinker. Her look has been updated somewhat, but the artists took pains to emulate her original design from Disney’s Peter Pan so her move to three-dimensional CG model is fairly seamless and unobjectionable. The biggest change in the new movie is her wardrobe, as she accessorizes her pixie dress with some suitable adventuring clothes (long sleeves, pants, and a jaunty cap) for her travels outside the Hollow. It’s a perfectly logical decision from a sensibility standpoint, but it’s not likely to be a favorite Halloween costume choice next season.
As the movie opens, Tink (Mae Whitman) is tasked with crafting a scepter to house a precious and extremely fragile blue gem in time for an autumn festival. Without the properly configured gem, the pixies won’t be able to collect essential blue pixie dust needed to maintain their tree home. She’s honored to have such a high-profile assignment from the ruling fairies, but also extremely stressed about her abilities to create the final product on time and up to snuff. Enter her friend Terence (tween heartthrob Jesse McCartney), a eager and kind male fairy who does his best to help Tink but ultimately comes to be viewed as an impediment by Tink as she tries to do everything by herself.
It should come as no surprise that the fragile gem becomes a casualty of her impatience, but her recovery efforts stretch the boundaries of common sense a bit. Rather than confess to the head fairies that she has destroyed the one-of-a-kind gem, she grasps onto the possibly fictional tale of a long-lost magic mirror that may grant its holder one last wish before it expends its power. Really? With days left until the crucial festival, she’s going to set out far away from home in search of a mirror that nobody has ever been able to find, that may not even exist, and hope that it really is magic and still has one more active wish? If you can buy that extreme leap of faith, you’re definitely in the target audience.
Along the way to the mirror, Tink meets a ridiculously cute firefly named Blaze who becomes her travelling companion and friend. His character design is fairly utilitarian, but he’s animated well and “speaks” via cute squeaks that will enrapture audiences of all ages, making him the breakout star of the film. Will the two friends find the mirror? Will it be too late to save the festival? This is a Disney movie, so there really shouldn’t be much doubt, although the resolution takes a slightly different path than one might expect.
The new movie is winning family entertainment, with two exceptions. First, Tink isn’t a very likable character due to her hotheadedness, making her a pretty unsympathetic heroine when she’s blowing her stack at her friends. Sure, that’s part of her character dating back to Peter Pan, but this aspect of her personality could have been tempered somewhat while still conveying the themes of patience and friendship. Second, the Disney team spent a great amount of effort crafting the magical world of Pixie Hollow and its denizens in the first movie and numerous books, so it’s a shame to see only glimpses of that world in the new movie as Tink spends most of her time on the road. She’s the star, but I’m certain there are many little fans out there who long to explore Pixie Hollow and the other fairies in more detail rather than primarily follow her exploits away from home. Unfortunately, based on the included preview of next year’s upcoming third film, it appears that this trend is going to continue.
From a production standpoint, the film is top notch and completely belies its direct-to-DVD status. Thankfully, it is being released in Blu-ray format (in addition to DVD) to allow home viewers to get as close to a theatrical experience as currently possible. The Blu picture and sound are thrilling, with fine detail like the individual specks in swirls of pixie dust, crystal-clear depth of field in the highly-detailed Pixie Hollow, and immersive surround sound effects during the expansive adventures outside the Hollow that work together to fully bring the fantasy world to life.
The disc is jam-packed with bonus features including deleted scenes, footage from the recreation of Pixie Hollow on the grounds of Epcot Center, and the ubiquitous BD Live capability. Of special note are the Fairy Bloopers, basically alternate takes on a few of the key scenes that are similar to the old Pixar bloopers over their end credits. They’re genuinely funny and definitely worth seeking out.
Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure is available on DVD and Blu-ray on October 27th. The Blu-ray package includes both Blu and DVD versions of the film, so if you’re undecided on version definitely go Blu to be covered either way.