Disney // 2010 // 77 Minutes // Rated G
Reviewed by Judge Dan Mancini (Retired) // September 21st, 2010
Faith, trust, and pixie dust.
Here comes another entry in the Disney Fairy series of direct-to-DVD and Blu-ray releases.
During an expedition to the English countryside to initiate summer, Tinker Bell (Mae Whitman, Arrested Development) becomes mesmerized by an old jalopy driven by a human. She leaves the other fairies to investigate and is captured by Lizzie Griffiths (Lauren Mote in her debut), an imaginative little girl who believes in fairies. Despite her budding friendship with Lizzie, Tink longs to return to Pixie Hollow, but is unable to fly in the persistent summer showers. When Lizzie's lepidopterist father discovers Tinker Bell's existence, he wants to capture her for display in a London museum. Meanwhile, the other fairies -- Vidia, Silvermist (Lucy Liu, Kill Bill: Volume 1), Iridessa (Raven-Symone, The Cheetah Girls), Rosetta (Kristin Chenoweth, The West Wing), Bobble, and Clank -- embark on a dangerous journey by foot to save their friend.
The first of the Disney Fairies movies, Tinker Bell was a clever adventure that provided Disney's most famous fairy with an origin story, while also cleverly tipping its hat to 1953's Peter Pan, the movie in which she was introduced. Though more epic and with plenty of action-packed entertainment, Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure didn't really advance the mythos or play satisfactorily with the events in J.M. Barrie's classic story. It was a fun movie, but not as clever as the original. In many ways, Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue feels more like a direct sequel to Tinker Bell than its predecessor. Set on the human mainland a decade or so before Peter Pan's adventures with Wendy Darling, the story includes numerous nods to the Tinker Bell of the 1953 film: her discovery that pixie dust enables human beings to fly (which leads to a few gorgeously animated sequences of a child defying gravity), and the revelation that other fairies may understand Tink's speech but, as in Peter Pan, humans hear her voice as a jingling bell. While impetuous and a little klutzy in Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, Tink never gets worked up and angry in that movie the way she does in Peter Pan. Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue features a scene in which she flies off the handle at Lizzie's father, pantomiming her fury to the clamor of tinkling bells; it is the closest yet that any of the three Disney Fairies movies has come to presenting the character exactly as she is in Peter Pan. Most important, Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue does a fine job of laying the groundwork for Tinker Bell alone among the other fairies having a special connection to people -- a fact that has obvious import for our heroine's later adventures. The Disney Fairies movies are, in many ways, far removed from Peter Pan, but their careful attention to Tinker Bell as an iconic character makes them entirely satisfying.
As with the previous Disney Fairies movies, Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue delivers some beautifully animated and exciting action. Highlights include the fairies' trek across the rain-soaked countryside and near-death experience in a mud puddle; their evasion of the Griffiths family cat as they leap across dinner plates floating in the kitchen via the magic of pixie dust; and Tinker Bell's race through the bowels of an automobile in a frenzied attempt to save Vidia, who has been jarred and is being taken to a museum by Lizzie's father. In addition, all of the scenes of flight -- whether involving the fairies or Lizzie -- are fast-paced, beautifully framed, and vertiginous. Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue may have been made with little girls in mind, but it's not a dainty affair. Tinker Bell and the other fairies are action heroines, through and through. They face real danger and overcome it with fearless ingenuity and derring-do. The movie a thoroughly modern tale with a subtext of female empowerment that teaches young ones the importance of personal integrity and acting in the interest of one's community, while also delivering genuine drama, exciting action, and age-appropriate laughs. It's good stuff.
When Pixar honcho John Lasseter was named chief creative director of Disney Animation Studios, he gutted the direct-to-DVD division on the grounds that most of the productions weren't up to Disney snuff and only served to dilute the company's most beloved brands. The Disney Fairies line was one of the few productions spared. It's no wonder. If the 3D computer animation of the three Tinker Bell movies isn't quite up to the quality of big-budget theatrical features, then it's awfully close. The movies may not be as staggeringly gorgeous as WALL-E, but they're nearly as rich and detailed as any of the Shrek movies. Character movement is fluid and impressive, while their faces are supple and full of emotion. Backgrounds are stunningly rich in detail; they explode with vibrant color. Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue is gorgeous in high definition. The 1080p/AVC transfer presents the film in the 16:9 aspect ratio. More than any other studio, Disney has a grasp of how to deliver superb high def home video. The quality of their releases -- whether animated or live action -- is consistently stellar. If the digital transfer of Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue isn't perfect, it's close enough to fool me. Colors are spectacular, and every detail of the animation is immaculately rendered. There are no digital artifacts of any kind. The visuals are reference quality.
Audio is presented in a DTS-HD Master Audio track that is crisp and clean, but leans too heavily on the front soundstage. The prevalence of thunderstorms throughout the story presented the disc's authors with the opportunity to assemble a truly dynamic audio mix. Unfortunately, that opportunity was largely wasted. Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue doesn't sound bad, but it could be better.
Each of the previous Tinker Bell movies was a bit of a disappointment in the extras department. Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue doesn't break the cycle -- in fact, it has an even slimmer, weaker batch of supplements than the other movies.
There are three deleted scenes with optional introductions to each by director Brad Raymond and producer Helen Kalafatic. The scenes are unfinished, presented in an animated storyboard format. The entire reel runs 14 minutes in length. There's also a music video for "How to Believe," performed by Bridgit Mendler (Good Luck Charlie). The clip combines scenes of Mendler performing with shots from the movie. A Games and Activities section on the menu leads to "Fairy Field Guide Builder," an interactive featurette that combines trivia quizzes with constructing a virtual scrapbook. Finally, a Backstage Disney section contains a two-minute featurette that challenges kids to design their own model fairy houses, like Lizzie Griffith's.
The keepcase also houses a separate DVD presentation of the movie. It is a standard definition copy of the Blu-ray, right down to the extras.
Disney has yet to strike out with any of their Tinker Bell movies. Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue is an even better entry in the series than its predecessor, Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure (which itself was plenty of fun). This Blu-ray offers an impeccable transfer of 3D computer animation that is of such high quality that the movie really could play theatrically. If your child is a fan of the series, don't hesitate to grab this disc. Even if you don't yet have a Blu-ray player, future-proof your collection by nabbing this two-disc set, which contains the feature and all of the supplements on both BD and DVD.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 77 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated G
* Deleted Scenes
* Music Video
* DVD Copy
* Official Site
* Video: Mae Whitman Interview
* Video: Lucy Liu Interview