Tinker Bell (Blu-ray)
Directed by Bradley Raymond
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:11080pAVC codec
Running Time: 78 minutes
Audio: PCM 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 English
MSRP: $ 34.99
Release Date: October 28, 2008
Review Date: October 22, 2008
Tinker Bell isn’t a sequel to Peter Pan, and it’s not exactly a prequel either since the character of Peter Pan never appears and is never mentioned. There are certainly references to James M. Barrie’s classic tale in this new-to-home video tale (no spoilers allowed!), but this animated confection concentrates on Tinker Bell’s origin and first bumpy weeks of life as a pixie. It’s a pleasant diversion, much more oriented toward the smaller fry than their parents, but don’t expect to find much to rave about with this new film. Its smaller budget (despite a truly sterling cast of name actors) and a lack of real wit certainly don’t rank it among the best CGI efforts from the Disney studios.
We see the origin of Tinker Bell (Mae Whitman) in the early moments of this movie and soon she finds herself among thousands of fairies in Pixie Hollow on Never Land. Fairies, we learn, are responsible for the changes that take place on Earth (called the Mainland) when the seasons change, and Tink learns that her tinker pixies are part of the spring contingent. At first she’s thrilled to be in Pixie Hollow working on getting ready for spring, but later she’s disturbed to learn that when the time for the change from winter to spring occurs, tinker fairies aren’t allowed to travel to the Mainland but must stay behind on Never Land to continue working on their tinkered-together contraptions. With Tink being the feisty fairy we all remember, we know she will do everything possible to learn a skill other than tinkering and goes for help to her best friends who control water and light changes and who get to travel to Earth.
The story by Jeffrey Howard and Bradley Raymond is serviceable for the children who are the primary audience for this G-rated film. It’s clever the way Tink transforms into the fairy we’re familiar with during the film’s first ten or so minutes. There is the usual Disney-level slapstick when Tink tries to master skills that a tinker fairy can’t quite manage, but the tone turns pretty ominous when the vain, superior-acting Vidia (Pamela Adlon) suggests that Tink round up the wild thistles, an impossible task which leads not to a funny series of mishaps but a real natural disaster. Most of the picture, however, is bright and eye-catching with some delicious CGI animation (the tree where pixie dust runs like sap is pretty breathtaking as is the transformation of the Earth in spring) and with splendid actors playing these all new (except for Tink) characters.
Mae Whitman makes for a spunky Tinker Bell, Americanized much like Disney’s rendition of Peter Pan was. Her delightful fairy friends Silvermist, Rosetta, Fawn, and Iridessa are beautifully voiced by Lucy Liu, Kristin Chenoweth, America Ferrera, and Raven-Symoné respectively. Rob Paulsen and Jeff Bennett play the expected goofy sidekicks Bobble and Clank while Fairy Mary, the head of the tinkers, is voiced by the marvelous Jane Horrocks. Queen Clarion is imperially intoned by Anjelica Huston. And was there a hint of romance in the air with the keeper of the Pixie Dust (Jesse McCartney)? Maybe for a future release. Allegedly, this is the first of four annual releases featuring Tink and her fairy friends.
The 1.78:1 aspect ratio is delivered in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. Colors are richly saturated but never bloom. Sharpness is all one could wish in this pristine transfer, obviously taken directly from digital files with no film grain present. In comparison to other CGI releases from Disney and Pixar, there’s a certain lack of sparkle here, but that could be the budget limitations of the project. Still, lacking banding or edge enhancement or any other notable artifacts, this is a very beautiful picture indeed. The film has been divided into 16 chapters.
The PCM 5.1 audio mix (6.9 Mbps) does a nice job of delivering the music for the movie, a Gaelic-inspired musical score composed by Joel McNeely. Elsewhere, there are some ambient sounds built into the mix, but they’re mostly subdued and not imaginatively placed around the total soundfield. Again, budgetary matters might account for this good but not great audio mix.
All bonuses are presented in 1080p, so kudos to Disney for going the extra mile on a high definition release.
“Magical Guide to Pixie Hollow” is an interactive map which the viewer can use to select three different areas of Pixie Hollow to get background information about. Played together, they run about 7 ½ minutes.
“Tinker Trainer” is a seek and find game as the player looks for objects hidden in clips from the film.
“Ever Wonder” is a 4-minute combination of live action and animation as fairies (one of them Tinker Bell) fly around a real location and change it from winter to spring.
“Fly to Your Heart” music video presents the movie’s theme song attractively sung by Disney Channel star Selena Gomez combining live filming with clips from the movie. It runs 3 ¼ minutes.
There are six deleted scenes (two fully CGI-animated and four in rough line animation) which can be viewed together in one 13-minute chunk or individually. The viewer also has the option to listen to the director and producer describing why the scenes were deleted or not.
“Creating Pixie Hollow” is a fairly unsatisfying making-of documentary in which the director, writers, and producers describe their inspirations for the creation of this animated world but who don’t mention a thing about the work process or the outstanding voice casting. This featurette runs 10 minutes.
BD-Live options are available for this disc.
There are 1080p previews for the upcoming releases of Pinocchio, Bolt, Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, Wall-E, and Space Buddies.
A fine family outing especially for the younger members of the family, Tinker Bell has her first made-for-video starring role, and it’s a nice start to an ongoing series of releases about the pixies in Pixie Hollow. The Blu-ray is a beautiful presentation of the film with a fair series of extras.