When it comes to Disney films most people think of the ones created by the Walt Disney Animation Studios. They produce the classics, from Cinderella (1950), Alice in Wonderland (1951) and Sleeping Beauty (1959) to the recent hits like Tangled (2010), Frozen (2013) and Big Hero 6 (2014). Not many acknowledge the ones Disney Toon Studios is producing because they tend to simply be sequels, follow ups to animated series and franchises based on product sales.
Now it’s time for me to get you caught up on a series you’ve probably missed out on. Disney’s Tinker Bell series, based on the 1953 Disney classic Peter Pan and the stories of J.M. Barrie follows none other than Tinker Bell. Tinker Bell is quite possibly the most beloved Disney character outside of Mickey Mouse himself. The silent, hot-tempered fairy is known world-round.
In 2008 Disney Toon Studios decided to give her a voice in the film obviously called Tinker Bell. Which is of course focused entirely on her creation and friends we’ve never met, along with other references to J.M. Barrie’s novels. Tinker Bell’s world of Pixie Hollow (a place in Never land) is weaved quickly and beautifully and we see a side of this little fairy we had never gotten to previously. A lot of people were skeptical of Tinker Bell being given a voice and being shown as anything other that an angry little jerk tugging on Peter’s arm and trying to drown Wendy. But nonetheless Disney Toon Studios created a sweet little tale about misunderstandings, friendship and being who you are.
We are also introduced a group of fairy friends that are prominently presented throughout all the films and products as well as an all-star cast; Tinker Bell, a tinker fairy (Mae Whitman), Silvermist, a water fairy (Lucy Liu), Rosetta, a garden fairy (Kristin Chenoweth), Iridessa, a light fairy (Raven Symone), Fawn, an animal fairy (America Fererra, Angela Bartys, Ginnifer Goodwin), and Vidia, a wind fairy (Pemela Adlon).
Of course it’s quite apparent that the Tinker Bell films have the main goal of drawing attention to merchandise featuring the already high-selling fairy. That fact is why many overlook these movies, that and the fact that their target audience is more directly aimed at elementary school children rather than families as a whole like traditional Disney movies.
Nonetheless Tinker Bell and the sequels to the 2008 film are well-animated, heartwarming and at times straight-up epic as well as being extremely well-animated and visually beautiful.
In Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure (2009) Tink is given a very rare and important moonstone to guard, regardless of the fact that she is very clumsy and reckless. This very moonstone is what powers the fairy dust that keeps all of the fairies magic and ability to fly. After an argument with her friend, Terence (who was trying to help) she reveals her hot temper we all know and accidentally breaks the stone. An adventure unravels as she tries to fix it.
Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue (2010) is the first to have a human interact with the fairies. Tinks curiosity gets the best of her and she finds herself caught by a little girl named Lizzie who is obsessed with fairies. Tinker Bell quickly realizes that Lizzie is neglected by her father and spends time with her teaching her everything she needs to know about fairies, while her fairy friends frantically search for her.
In Secret of the Wings (2012) it is quickly revealed that Tink has a sister who was born of the same laugh (fairies are created when a baby laughs for the very first time). Her sister, Periwinkle has identical wings but more importantly she’s a winter fairy and Tink is a warm fairy. Winter and warm fairies can not cross to eachothers sides without danger of getting ill and breaking their wings.
In the Pirate Fairy (2014) we meet Zarina, a dust keeper fairy who likes to experiment with the pixie dust making all sorts of concoctions. After an error is made she flees with all of the very important blue pixie dust. Tink and her friends chase after her only to find she has joined a band of pirates.
That brings us to our latest Tinker Bell film and probably the last as Disney has stated they have ceased production on further fairy movies. Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast (2015) is the first in the series to hardly involve Tinker Bell at all. Instead it follows Fawn, Tink’s animal fairy friend. Fawn loves animals and while her heart is always in the right place, that doesn’t keep her from endangering all the other fairies in the process. After she nurses a baby hawk (an enemy to fairies) back to health before it lets loose over Pixie Hollow, she is then put on high alert by the Scout Fairies (protectors of Pixie Hollow). Fawn tries to cool it on the dangerous animals, but when she hears a strange growl she just has to explore it.
Enter Gruff, a very different creature that comes across as powerful and menacing but on further studies is more like a giant pet. Fawn and the creature form a bond much like a kid and their pet. But Fawn must hide their friendship from the other fairies, except her close friends of course. From this point the film takes a turn for the epic and heart-wrenching, soaring miles above the previous films in emotional draw. It encompasses betrayal, misunderstandings, sacrifice, loss and even death. The finale of the film comes across a lot sadder than it might have been intended, if you’ve ever had a pet or experienced losing one you might understand why. The sad feeling is only magnified when it cuts straight to the credits, offering no moment of pixie-coated fun as it fades out into a melancholy song. [1000 Years performed by KT Tunstal & Bleu].
Whether or not you’ve seen the previous Tink movies, the Legend of the Neverbeast is sure to have an emotional impact and even draw up a “what??” factor. Nearly every review of the film so far includes something along the lines of “Surprisingly heartfelt and sad,” “I came pretty close to tears,” “This movie ends on a sad note. I even cried,” which are all taken from real reviews.
Now, it’s not uncommon to be moved by an animated film. At this point it’s almost common with How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014), Big Hero 6 (2014), Lilo & Stitch (2002) and the Iron Giant (1999) are a few movies I know that may or may not have ripped my heart from my chest. The difference however is that the Tinker Bell films are straight-to-DVD fun entertainment aimed specifically at young kids (more than likely ones who aren’t even in school yet). That meaning that big-theater films are expected to have a wide range of emotions to encompass both kids and adults while you don’t really expect that of a movie aimed at preschoolers. But nope, Disney pulls no punches and goes all the way reeling in as many witty jokes, humor, heart and emotion that they can gather.
Additionally, as prior mentioned, the film is extremely well-animated. All of the Tinker Bell movies border the quality of big-theater CGI and are utterly breathtaking. This of course adds tremendously to the story, along with the brilliant soundtrack and score. All of the Tink films are composed by Joel McNeely (previously scoring nearly every Disney sequel). Each of the films features a number of songs that encompass the themes of the film, the first featured a bubbly song by Selena Gomez (Fly to Your Heart) but the songs featured in the Neverbeast all of which are performed by KT Tunstall are a little less bubbly and more beautiful. Strange Sight, Float, and Strange Sight Reprise, which is featured in the final scene and really helps force the tears from your eyes.
Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast takes a leap from the prior heartwarming and sweet Tinker Bell films, while it encompasses those feelings as well it takes an entirely different turn that might leave it’s adult viewers sadder than its intended child audience.
Right now all of the Tink films are available to purchase anywhere and are also available for streaming on netflix!
Until next time!