This is a user-submitted review by Asja Dally.
Cards on the table, people – I love the Tinker Bell movies. I love being able to cosy down on the sofa with my two little sisters and really, wholeheartedly enjoy one of their movies with them. I love the magical worlds, the memorable characters, the simple life lessons. I love the individualism of each film in the series, the way the writers always strive to do something new and different with what they have.
And The Pirate Fairy is no exception, despite being the fifth and (rumoured) second-to-last film in the series. The movie’s prologue introduces us to Zarina (Christina Hendricks), a dust keeper fairy and budding ‘scientist’ in the making, whose forbidden experiments with pixie dust end up driving her from Pixie Hollow and into the hands of James, a (kind, attentive, admiring – Tom Hiddleston at his sweetest) cabin boy aboard a fearsome pirate ship. Yeah, you can probably see where this is going. Cut to a year later and, sure enough, a very different Zarina returns to Pixie Hollow to steal away the fairies’ precious supply of blue pixie dust. And so begins an epic rescue mission of sorts, as Tinker Bell (Mae Whitman) and her friends battle pirates and crocodiles to retrieve not only their blue dust, but also the long-lost Zarina.
It’s a fresh and intriguing set up, full of potential. And, overall, the payoff is great. The plot moves at a brisk pace, blending high-stakes adventure with light-hearted comedy and just the right amount of intrigue. Kids and adults alike will be sucked into the story and its little mysteries; what does Zarina want with the blue dust? Why are the pirates taking orders from her? Who is that cabin boy with the ominously familiar jaw line? The answers come at a surprisingly measured pace, allowing you to experience each and every ‘reveal’ right alongside Tinker Bell and her friends; you really feel like you’re sharing in the adventure with them. There’s one twist in particular that really takes its time, and boy, is the payoff worth it.
Speaking of twists, there’s a clever manoeuvre on the writers’ part to have Zarina switch up Tinkerbell and her friends’ talents during their first face-off together. Yup – it’s every bit as good as it sounds, people. Chaos and hilarity ensue in equal measure, with the writers’ utilising every single opportunity to play off the characters’ distinctive personalities in a host of crazy situations with their newfound powers. Dainty Rosetta suddenly finds herself attacked by adoring bugs as an animal fairy, whilst Vidia’s ready to strangle anyone who dares confirm that she’s become a tinker. I’m going to be honest; I was giggling like a little girl in my seat. It’s entertaining, inventive writing that serves the plot and ultimately brings our friends closer together, as they develop a newfound appreciation and understanding for each other’s talents.
And it’s details like this that really make the movie work. There’s a true fondness, a true desire to do these characters justice, that comes across in every frame and line of dialogue. The mythology and culture of Pixie Hollow and its fairies, developed over the course of five movies, supports the movie’s plot with a level of believability that honestly surprised me. Little touches, like Tinker Bell ensuring the Winter fairies have enough snow to keep them cold, or everyone’s wet wings refusing to fly, or Silvermist experiencing seasickness for the first time when her talent as a water fairy is lost – details, it’s all in the details. The movie comes across as a real labour of love – not only for Tinkerbell and her world, but also for Peter Pan and his. There are countless tongue-in-cheek references (“I’m not a codfish!” cries a certain pirate at one point) to the 1953 Disney classic, more so than in any other Tinker Bell film thus far. Make sure you stick around for the end credits scene that really sets things up for Peter Pan. One can only begin to imagine what the next movie has in store…
There’s even a catchy-as-heck song and yes, dear fellow fangirls, James does sing and sing well enough. The animation’s clean and simple and nothing spectacular, though I do enjoy the little quirks put into Pixie Hollow in terms of character design and costuming; for example, you can easily identify a garden fairy in the crowd by her dress and hair, without her being a lazy carbon copy of Rosetta.
On the subject of laziness, the film does sadly suffer from an unfocussed feel at points, with an awful lot of characters competing for your attention. Zarina over dominates the lengthy prologue, whilst James receives enough screen time to warrant remarketing the movie as a villain origin story; the Wicked of Peter Pan, if you will. And whilst Tom Hiddleston throws a hundred and ten per cent into his performance, it pains me to say that I found the animation of his character to be lacking in emotional expression. A terrible shame, as the plot gives the animators more than enough opportunity to do some really striking things with him. Additionally, the moral of the story is left a little hazy; something to do with valuing and sharing each other’s talents in the right place, at the right time? I think? I don’t know – it’s left a tad vague.
Nonetheless – all in all, The Pirate Fairy is a worthy addition to the line-up of Tinkerbell movies, deserving of its place on the big screen, and an enjoyable piece for little kids, big kids and grown-up kids alike. Give Tinkerbell a chance, people. I hope you have as good a time with her as I did.
The Pirate Fairy is in UK cinemas now and releases in US cinemas on April 1st, 2014.