Tinker Bell,
directed by Bradley Raymond
(Walt Disney, 2008)

I figured, going in, that Tinker Bell -- the first in a series to feature the tiny sprite -- would be closely connected with Peter Pan, as either a prequel or a sequel. There are connections, but indirect ones, and it is neither a prequel nor a sequel, although this story would pre-date the Peter Pan story, and young Wendy does get a brief cameo appearance.

So, what is this movie, then? It tells us the story of how fairies come to be, what they do, how they are organized and where they live, with Tinker Bell being the prime focus and example.

Well, what do fairies do, then? This movie lovingly and lyrically and lushly shows us how they direct and guide many of the small miracles of Nature, like the coloring of spring flowers and autumn leaves, and the shaping of snowflakes. The connection with Nature is strongly emphasized, and the movie can be seen as an ode to these small wonders that surround us. I can see it inspiring young children to see things around them they never before noticed.

The fairies live in Pixie Hollow, which is portrayed with lush, vibrant colors and wonderful detail.

The characters are engaging, and I especially enjoyed seeing that they had a few flaws and differed quite widely. Some were not particularly bright, one was a bit stern and aloof, one was friendly but still distant, one was quite narcissistic, Terrence (a friend to Tinker Bell) needed a self-esteem boost, and Tinker Bell herself struggled to find her place in Pixie Hollow. There were no dramatic transformations of personalities, but most of them worked through their flaws.

The vocal cast includes Mae Whitman as Tinker Bell, Kristin Chenoweth as Rosetta, Raven Symone as Iridessa, Lucy Liu as Silvermist and Anjelica Huston as Queen Clarion.

Of the Disney movies I have watched, Bambi still has the best animation, but I think Tinker Bell might be a close second. The colors are rich and vibrant, and the motion of the characters is fluid and credible.

There are not any highly memorable songs in this movie, but there are very nice pieces that fit the classic Disney song mold just right. They add to the movie, and they would be good to hum along with. I can picture kids doing just that, especially upon repeat viewings.

This is a bit of a stretch, but watching this movie reminded me of one aspect of an excellent but little-known British science-fiction novel, The Watch Below, by James White. In this novel, a group of support troops is stranded in a sunken cargo ship in the North Atlantic. They have almost unlimited supplies, but no ability to make contact outside the ship. They are there for years, and must find ways to occupy themselves and stay sane. One way they come up with is to tell each other well-known stories, and then create separate stories around supporting characters. Tinker Bell fits right into that last category, and is very well-done.

Bottom line: This is a very nice Disney movie for children ages 2 to about 6.

book review by
Chris McCallister

19 March 2011

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