The Strongest of the Series Thus Far
The Pirate Fairy is the 5th and (at the time of this review’s writing) most recent entry into Disney’s CG animated Tinker Bell series. The 6h film known as Legend of the NeverBeast has been announced and is already deep in production.
I have to say, as an individual who has followed the entire series thus far (with the only absence coming in the form of The Secret of the Wings for whatever reason), I have to say that Pirate Fairy is to date the strongest entry into the series by far and easily much more deserving than the apparent lack of hype associated with it.
Tinker Bell and the Pirate Fairy actually did receive a domestic theatrical release on February 13, 2014 and made it to the home market on DVD two months later on April 1st as just The Pirate Fairy. Though budget information was never released publicly, estimates place production cost of the film somewhere around $55-million, having come from the DisneyToon division, the team who specializes in direct-to-dvd animated films (these are the same guys who ended up striking gold with the Planes franchise). The Pirate Fairy grossed $65-mil at the box office alone but the real appeal, as per the rest of the Tinker Bell film series, was the home market. Though a success on both fronts, I am of the opinion that with a bit more promoting, this one could have been a pretty big box office smash for Disney. Perhaps not quite Frozen levels of supremacy but certainly on par with Planes.
To my way of reasoning, the closer the Tinker Bell franchise comes to its Peter Pan roots, the stronger it’s becoming in terms of prose and interesting characters. Not to suggest that the fairies and their daily coming and goings about Pixie Hallow aren’t interesting by themselves, they certainly are. There is a fantasy element present here that is worth exploring regardless of age or what kind of movies you typically enjoy. The bigger problem, at least as far as I can tell, has to do with the fact that the films undeniably appeal to girls; a reality only further driven home by the Tinker Bell branding, which, can actually cause many boys to steer clear entirely regardless of how well the story is told.
The Pirate Fairy is the first to do away with the Tinker Bell moniker in its title and the material is finally coming together in a manner where Peter Pan’s integration into the mythos is on the horizon. For me, these are some triumphs worth celebrating.
This time we follow along on the exploits of a a misunderstood dust-keeper fairy named Zarina, who steals Pixie Hollow’s all-important Blue Dust, in a bid to join forces with a small band of pirates from Skull Rock. Tinker Bell and her cohorts put all of the pieces together and find themselves little choice but to embark upon a quest upon the high seas in effort to return the crucial Dust to its rightful place in Pixie Hollow.
Comedy and new challenges arise when, in the midst of their pursuit of Zarina, Tinker Bell and her pals’ respective talents become switched. The normally confident and in-control group are suddenly out of their respective elements in a hurry and the resulting antics are definitely enjoyable.
Its 78-minute runtime is by far the quickest paced of the current five and with visuals moving away from the innocent forestry setting of the Hollow and into the vast world beyond in undeniable style. From rolling sea foam to the most generous (and convincing) dust effects to date, The Pirate Fairy is definitive proof that Disney’s acquisition of Pixar in 2006 is yielding small dividends all the way across the boards.
The vast majority of the voice talent is unchanged from the rest of the series with the only notable newcomer Christina Hendricks as Zarina. Her work is spot on and the incredibly talented but consistently underrated Jeff Bennett delivers what it perhaps the most convincing interpretation of John Rhys-Davies as Fairy Gary to date.
All in all I came away from The Pirate Fairy impressed; especially when compared to the earlier entries into the franchise. The pacing is stronger, the pirate themes (and timeline) approaching the long-awaited integration into the Peter Pan mythos and the fact that Disney is smart enough to recognize that the Tinker Bell label is costing them serious revenue from the XY-chromosome set is encouraging as well. 5th entries into any series are almost expected to have weakened from the original as to be diluted into incoherence yet somehow Disney seems to be becoming more focused with each installment.
Factor in some catchy musical numbers (including an original theme song by Natasha Bedingfield) and a back story reveal sure to delight fans of the original Peter Pan and you have the formula for quite an enjoyable CG-animated romp. Here’s hoping Legend of the NeverBeast manages to carry on in this tradition.