Sunday, October 25, 2009


Tinker Bell's greatest adventure yet takes place in Autumn, as the fairies are on the mainland changing the colors of the leaves, tending to pumpkin patches, and helping geese fly south for the winter. The rare Blue Moon will rise, and when its light passes through the magical Fall Scepter that Tinker Bell has been summoned to create, Pixie Hollow's supply of pixie dust will be restored. But when Tinker Bell accidentally puts all of Pixie Hollow in jeopardy, she must venture out across the sea on a secret quest to set things right in Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure.

The second volume in the new Disney fairy series, Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, is really superior--mostly because it addresses some of the complaints I had about the first installment. While "Tinker Bell" was aimed at and appealed mostly to little girls, the hackneyed direct-to-video (and "catty" plot) was jettisoned in favor of a narrative and style (i.e., more humor and adventure) that holds greater appeal for boys in the family, and yes, adults. I was impressed that this time, Disney created a "world." From the magical opening sequence that shows fairies helping animals prepare for winter and ripening corn, you know you're in for some stunning animation. Beads of water roll down the threads of a spider web, a cricket cuckoo clock brings back memories of Gepetto's workshop, and the fairy wings themselves look like marvelous. Like "The Flintsones," there are sequences where the delight comes from just seeing the animators' take on an everyday activity sized down to a Pixie world, whether it's a Pixie dust factory or a little boat that Tink makes to deliver the dust. You can't help but smile and marvel at each sequence. But let's face it, the whole idea of a movie based on fairies is going to appeal mostly to little girls. It's almost as if someone at Disney woke up and said, "Hey, why do they have the market cornered on fairies? We have the most famous fairy of them all . . . Tinker Bell!" Once again, Mae Whitman, who gave voice to Shanti in "The Jungle Book 2," handles the voiceover chores for the main character, while Lucy Liu is Silvermist, Raven-Symoné is Iridessa, Kristin Chenoweth is Rosetta, and Anjelica Huston is Queen Clarion. But the main secondary character this time is Tink's friend Terrence (Jesse McCartney), an earnest young man (I mean, pixie) who screws up because of clumsiness and causes a temporary rift in their friendship. And I can't help but think that someone at Disney may have slyly suggested that a boy character might broaden the family appeal. More humor and adventure makes it more palatable to boys, too. But my chief complaint about Tinker Bell in the first film was that she was almost unrecognizable. Sure, characters evolve, but "Tinker Bell" presented a golly-gee good girl whose flawless goody-two-shoes act seemed galaxies away from the character in Peter Pan who ordered Wendy shot down and pulled her rival's hair. This time, Tink has a temper, and that's good, because nothing's worse than a two-dimensional character in a three-dimensional CGI movie. At least now she's more believable, and that temper and impatience of hers ins nicely woven into the plot.

In the animation department, Disney does a fantastic job once more. Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure is a visual delight, and the cartoonists' and animators attention to detail gives the stunning picture quality something to showcase other than the clarity and style itself. The animation is superb. We're not talking TV-quality drawing or animation. This is feature-quality work. The plot may not be the most original, but at least it's not the kind of high-school jealousy nonsense we got in the first installment. This outing, the queen decides to entrust Tinker Bell with the job of constructing a scepter which will hold a rare moonstone. Then, like something out of Indiana Jones, that scepter has to be placed in just the right spot so the Blue Moon can hit the stone and somehow create pixie dust. Don't try to think about this too hard. It's a fairy world. It doesn't have to make sense. Anyway, tinkers are builders and repair specialists, which is good, because with a friend like Terrence around, things tend to get broken. It's when the moonstone itself crashes that the adventure part begins, for Tinker Bell decides to go off in search of a magic mirror that went down in a shipwreck, a mirror that contains one last wish. Now, see, you're thinking again, and I told you to suspend belief. That's why Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure is still going to appeal mostly to little girls. Boys will wish for more moments like the bat trying to chase down and eat Tink's firefly friend, Blaze. Maybe the next installment will address this deficiency. Certainly there's more humor this outing, and Tink has more personality because she's allowed flaws. Maybe people at Disney are reading the reviews and taking them to heart. Stranger things have happened. This gets a 3 on my "Go See" Scale.

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