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Feature


One winter night a child’s laugh births a new fairy, who is named Tinker Bell. As her name signifies, Tink is delegated to the ‘Tinker’ tribe—the fairies that make the tools that the other specialized fairies (water fairies, wind fairies, fairies that paint insects, fairies that create rainbows, etc.) use in their daily work. Unfortunately, the Tinker tribe is somewhat looked down upon by the other fairies, as the tribe members have no magical powers, and when the seasons come to the main land world, the Tinkers are left behind. Determined to change her lot in life, and determined to visit the main land world, Tinker Bell attempts to learn the tricks of the other fairy trades.

Tinker Bell
Tinker Bell is so very aimed at little girls and not twenty-eight year old men. From opening shot to closing crawl I felt as if I’d wandered into the Barbie isle of my local Target on my way to the audio components isle. For some reason I’m too polite to ask the bustling children around me to move so that I may pass, and my gaze eventually transfixes on the packages around me. I begin to recognize the quality of the plastic doll craftsmanship, and the ingenious graphic design, even more than that I begin to recognize the advertising genius. By the time the kiddies finally move I’ve grown a grudging respect for the Barbie isle, but I haven’t forgotten that I wasn’t supposed to be there in the first place.

It seems to me that boy-centric entertainment concerns physical conflict, and that girl-centric entertainment concerns more emotional conflict—in a boy’s movie the hero bests the bully physically first, whereas in a girl’s movie the bully is humiliated first. The one thing the sexes seem to share in common is a love of the underdog. Tinker Bell is the prototypical underdog story, which heavy-handedly engages children on basic emotional levels, and runs its thin plot by the numbers. It’s effective, but it’s full of cheap shots and unoriginal ideas.  There’s also something unavoidably hypocritical about Tinker Bell’s ‘be yourself’ messages being mixed with images of thin and curvy (Tinker got back), short-skirted girls, but I really only feel obligated to mention it. Actually, the real moral seems to be something about the importance of material things in the spiritual world.

Tinker Bell
The behind the scenes story of Tinker Bell is apparently a sorted and complex tale, that really deserves a full and honest telling, but I seriously doubt we’ll ever get one. I remember a teaser trailer accompanying the Peter Pan Platinum Edition release, which came out about a year and a half ago. When I saw the official trailer more than a year later it looked like an entirely different film, which piqued my interest enough to look into it. Apparently the production went through a dozen re-writes and cast changes, and the budget eventually hit something like $50 million, which is insane for a straight to video release. Pixar head John Lasseter, who was made head of animation at Disney during the regime change, reportedly hated the film and called for a huge revamp.

Video


Tinker Bell represents the continuing ease at which computer animation can be created. This is clearly a cheaper production than Meet the Robinsons or WALL-E, but the animation quality matches and even surpasses what was once considered state of the art. In high definition the lack of budget eating fine details is clear, but the chosen style is a sort of plastic look anyway (likely to match the look of the accompanying toy line). There are some miniscule details to get excited about, but mostly the transfer impresses with its colour clarity and effortless, noiseless tonal blends. It all kind of looks like a well maintained collection of hi-def video game cut-scenes.

Audio


Your PCM and Dolby Digital 5.1 options are pretty much identical on this particular disc. Both tracks are pretty average in scope, with a strong focus on music over sound effects. The surround effects are pretty rare, but work directionally, usually consisting of fairies flying from back to front. The dialogue mix is clear and consistent in volume, but is always as separate in feel from the effects as they are from the music. Composer Joel McNeely’s score has a pleasant and crafty Gaelic slant. The music is presented with a much fuller body than any of the other audio elements, warmly engaging all channels, and generally sounding like a million bucks.

Tinker Bell

Extras


The minimal extras begin with ‘Magical Guide to Pixie Hollow’, which is an interactive look at the different seasonal environments of Tink’s hometown. Well, interactive is an overstatement, what we really have here is a map of the Hollow with clickable sections that lead to Tinker Bell and Queen Fairy narrated Flash animation. ‘Tinker Trainer’ is a little more interactive. This extra consists of a series of patient trying games, which eventually lead to a vague sense of accomplishment.

‘Ever Wonder’ is a brief mini-film that mixes live action and animated fairies. The CG fairies whip around the unknowing live action humans creating natural wonder for about four minutes, with no dialogue. It’s followed by a Selena Gomez music video, and a fluffy making-of featurette entitled ‘Creating Pixie Hollow’. The ten minute featurette is made to sell the film, but actually packs a few interesting factoids, mostly concerning the filmmaker’s structural and visual inspirations.

There are ten minutes of deleted scenes, totalling six, with optional director and producer introductions. This is the only part of the disc that acknowledges any of the rumoured changes made to the film late in the game. The scenes are presented in hi-def and 5.1 surround, and are a mix of storyboards and finished products, give or take a few missing sound effects and temp vocal performances.

Tinker Bell

Overall


Are you an eight year old girl? If you are I guarantee you’ll love every minute of Tinker Bell. If you’re not, then I guarantee your eight year old daughter/niece/granddaughter/cousin/step-sister will. The film doesn’t compare at all to Disney’s Pixar output, or even some of its made for TV animation, and it’s obviously made to sell more DVDs, Blu-rays, dolls, books, and web space, but it isn’t garbage either.

*Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray release.


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