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Tinker Bell (2008)

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 10/28/2008

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/21/2008

Being second fiddle or second banana (choose your cliche) is never easy. No matter how well one does in their supporting role, they won't get to linger in the spotlight -- although it may shine on them momentarily. In the movies, supporting characters can often be the backbone of a film, but they rarely get the recognition that they deserve. Occasionally, one of these beings gets to be front and center, such as in Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj. OK, so maybe that's not the best example. (Although, it's a great example of what a sequel looks like when the star of the first film is nowhere to be found!) Tinker Bell (who knew that was two words?) had a very small (pun intended) role in 1953's Peter Pan, but immediately became one of the most beloved characters from the movie and a de facto mascot for Disney. But, her role was always a supporting one, until now. Fifty-five years later, Tinker Bell has her own movie.

Tinker Bell opens with the titular fairy (voiced by Mae Whitman) being born from the combination of a child's first laugh and a dandelion. (Yep, that sounds like voodoo to me.) She materializes in Pixie Hollow, the home of the fairies, where she's greeted by Queen Clarion (voiced by Anjelica Huston). She is then instructed to find her fairy talent, and learns that she is a "Tinker" (hence the name), a fairy who fixes things. Fellow Tinkers Bobble (voiced by Rob Paulsen) and Clank (voiced by Jeff Bennett) are pleased to have a new colleague, but Tinker Bell is unsure of her post. She learns that the fairies help to manipulate the seasons and various parts of nature. She meets Rosetta (voiced by Kristin Chenoweth) who works with plants & flowers, Fawn (voiced by America Ferrara) who works with animals, Silvermist (voiced by Lucy Liu) who works with water, and Iridessa (voiced by Raven-Symone) who works with light. Despite herself, Tinker Bell is jealous of their talents and is convinced that she's been put in the wrong place. While Tinker Bell is trying to find a new talent, the creation of Spring is looming and all of the fairies will soon learn that they'll need Tinker Bell's help to make it happen.

Several years ago, Disney launched a product line called "Disney Fairies" which was built around Tinker Bell and introduced many new fairy characters. Tinker Bell is the culmination of that campaign. What's my point? My point is that this movie isn't aimed at me or, most likely, anyone reading this review. It's aimed at pre-adolescent girls who want to learn more about Tinker Bell and her friends and see them in action. And while I'm not a pre-adolescent girl, I will attempt to judge the film based on that understanding.

Given the above criteria, I would have to say that Tinker Bell is a success. We get to see how Tinker Bell was born, how she came to live in Pixie Hollow, and how she met all of her friends. We also learn what the fairies in Pixie Hollow do and how they effect the world. The 78-minute film moves along at a nice pace and it's never boring. The movie has a nice mixture of drama (Tinker Bell's dilemma), comedy (any scene involving Bobble, Clank, and their mouse, Cheese), and adventure (the fairies' race to save Spring). The movie even has a villain, Vidia (voiced by Pamela Adlon), who is jealous of the way in which the other fairies accept Tinker Bell.

As an adult and a parent, I can say that Tinker Bell offers nothing new, but it is above average as far as children's entertainment is concerned. This project was in the works for many years, and at one point was going to be scrapped, until Pixar head man John Lasseter was placed in charge of Disney animation and revived the movie. There is nothing offensive in the film and it does offer some nice messages. Tinker Bell learns to accept herself for who she is, and that when she uses her own talents, there's no reason to be jealous of others. The movie also stresses teamwork and a sense of community. Another, more subtle, message comes through the characters of Bobble and Clank. One would assume that Tinkering would be a male dominated skill, but these two never judge Tinker Bell because she's female and it's implied that everyone can work well together.

Of course, the ultimate litmus test for Tinker Bell will be little girls, and my daughters loved it. (Although, one had to tell me how it was different from the books.) The CG animation looks great, the characters are fun, and the movie imparts some positive messages. Parents may feel that they've seen it all before, but the movie must be commended for taken a very old character and making her new again. There's a trailer for the next Tinker Bell adventure on this DVD ("Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure"), so we'll see if they can keep up the good work.

Tinker Bell spreads fairy dust onto DVD courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. The movie has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The movie looks absolutely gorgeous as the image is razor sharp and crystal clear. There is no grain and there are no defects from the source material. The colors look fantastic and the CG animation has a nice depth. Other than some occasional blurring, I saw no defects here. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The track offers nice stereo effects which offer an appreciable level of detail. Surround sound effects come into play during certain scenes, such as when one of the fairies fly. Keeping with a family film tradition, subwoofer effects are quite mild, but they do arrive during the plant chase scene. The audio won't bowl you over, but it's appropriate for this film.

The Tinker Bell DVD contains only a few extras. "Magical Guide to Pixie Hollow" is an interactive map which will take the viewer into the various areas of Pixie Hollow. Each selection provides detailed information about the different kinds of fairies. "Ever Wonder" (4 minutes) is a brief live-action piece which depicts the fairies doing their jobs in our world. This has no dialogue and is somewhat odd. Next is a MUSIC VIDEO for the song "Fly to Your Heart" by Selena Gomez. (Why is Disney determined to make her a star?)  In an odd move, Disney has placed two more extras on the DVD, which are listed on the box, but on the DVD itself, they are sort of an Easter Egg.  One must click around on the Bonus Features screen to find "To the Mainland".  There, one will find that the DVD houses six DELETED SCENES which run about 10 minutes and can be viewed with or without introductions by Director Bradley Raymond and Producer Jeannine Roussel.  Some of these are fully animated, while others are just storyboards.  Most of these are definitely throw-away scenes, but the one where the fairies visit the mainland is worth checking out.  In "Creating Pixie Hollow" (10 minutes), we get comments from the filmmakers discuss the making of Tinker Bell and from where they drew their inspirations.  We see concept art and footage of the animators at work.  We also see how real-life locations were used as inspiration.  Oddly, the vocal talent isn't highlighted here.  

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has also brought Tinker Bell to Blu-ray Disc.  The film is letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps.  To be frank, this transfer is perfect.  The image is incredibly sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material.  The colors are amazing, as they seem to leap off of the screen, most notably the greens. The image has a very nice amount of depth and the landscape shots has a quasi-3-D look to them.  The picture is very detailed as well, and we can see the minutia in the animation.  Granted, the animation isn't on the level of Pixar, but it still looks very good here.  The image is never too bright or too dark and there was no edge enhancement or artifacting.  The Disc offers a Linear PCM 5.1 Lossless audio track which runs at 48 kHz and a constant rate of 6.9 Mbps.  The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects.  There is a history of family films downplaying audio effects on home video and Tinker Bell appears to have joined those ranks.  The stereo effects are good, and during certain scenes, they work very well, bringing forth very subtle sounds which weren't heard on the DVD track.  The in-film music sounds very good.  But, the musical cues are about all that we get in the way of surround sound, and the subwoofer only supplies soft thuds.  Several scenes, such as the thistle chase, would have been great opportunities for engrossing sound, but we don't get that here.  Still, the video alone makes this Blu-ray worth considering.

The Tinker Bell Blu-ray Disc contains the extras found on the DVD.

Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long