The CGI-animated Disney Fairies property film Tinker Bell, on the surface, seems to be the kind of film that would be obviously be terrible. However, it is a surprisingly well-done and enjoyable film. Even as a property that exists solely to promote toys to children, the filmmakers still put significant effort into the character design, world design, music, and animation.
First off, the animation is fluid and well-done. It’s not quite up to Pixar standard, but it comes close for DisneyToon Studios. The next noticeable good thing about this movie is its music. It does a great job of setting the wondrous tone of the world and the narrative. “To the Fairies They Draw Near” by Loreena McKennitt has that sound that invokes child-like awe and a beautiful melody of fantasy.
Another thing this film does quite well is world-building. The source material, both the Disney film and the original J.M. Barrie tale, provide little background on the world of fairies, but this film expands the fairy lore with a complete world. Although, the downside is that although it’s established that Pixie Hollow is connected with Never Land, it never clarified where it is exactly. But the fairies have distinct jobs connected with nature (many of which funnily resemble the Bending arts of Avatar lore), and worlds within their own environ.
The characters are enjoyable. However, this Tinker Bell is NOT the Tinker Bell of Peter Pan, at least, not yet. Her character works for this franchise quite well, but it is not in harmony with the source material. This Tinker Bell is kind, if not impatient, helpful, understanding, sweet, and friendly. Her negative traits, like her vanity and jealously, oddly enough, seem to have passed onto another character named Vidia, voiced by Pamela Adlon. Speaking of which, the voice acting in this film is well-cast and well-performed. Mae Whitman gives a kindness but still strong voice to Tink. Kristin Chenoweth, Raven-Symoné, Lucy Liu, and America Ferrera all do well as Tink’s fairy friends Rosetta, Iridessa, Silvermist, and Fawn, who each represent the different job classes of the fairies. Even Jesse McCartney shows he has acting range as Terrance. Anjelica Huston has regal presence as Clarion, the Fairy Queen, and voice acting veterans Rob Paulsen and Jeff Bennett are tolerable if not grating as fellow Tinker fairies Clank and Bobble.
The plot is a tad on the predictable side, but it works for children. As usual with Disney DVDs, the DVD extras are great, expanding the world and are colorful and interactive. Selena Gomez’s music video is visually uninspiring, but that’s a DVD music video for you.
Overall, this was a good start to open this franchise with. It established the tone, world, and characters well, and left open the possibility to expand the world further with more characters and seasons. For an opening effort, a strong start. B+