I was personally disappointed by the first "Tinker Bell" (2008), but because my daughter loved it and it was so beautifully CGI-animated, I gave it a 7. That was a compromise between the 6 I'd have rated it and the 8 or better that my daughter would have given it.
Though the final grade for this one is the same (sometimes math can be perplexing), the second volume in the new Disney fairy series, "Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure," is really superior--mostly because it addresses some of the complaints I had about the first installment. While "Tinker Bell" was aimed at and appealed mostly to little girls, the hackneyed direct-to-video (and "catty" plot) was jettisoned in favor of a narrative and style (i.e., more humor and adventure) that holds greater appeal for boys in the family, and yes, adults. This time around, my daughter liked it just as much (an 8), my son didn't excuse himself to go to his room to fold his laundry, my wife pronounced the pacing crisp. And me? I was impressed that this time, Disney created a "world." From the magical opening sequence that shows fairies helping animals prepare for winter and ripening corn, you know you're in for some stunning animation. Beads of water roll down the threads of a spider web, a cricket cuckoo clock brings back memories of Gepetto's workshop, and the fairy wings themselves look like marvelous. Like "The Flintsones," there are sequences where the delight comes from just seeing the animators' take on an everyday activity sized down to a Pixie world, whether it's a Pixie dust factory or a little boat that Tink makes to deliver the dust. You can't help but smile and marvel at each sequence, and as a result, I'd give it a solid 7.
But let's face it, the whole idea of a movie based on fairies is going to appeal mostly to little girls. And the fact that Disney didn't just announce "Tinker Bell," but a five-title DVD/Blu-ray series, pretty much confirms that they wanted to tap into the fairy market that the Barbie franchise has been milking these past several years. It's almost as if someone at Disney woke up and said, "Hey, why do they have the market cornered on fairies? We have the most famous fairy of them all . . . Tinker Bell!"
Once again, Mae Whitman, who gave voice to Shanti in "The Jungle Book 2," handles the voiceover chores for the main character, while Lucy Liu is Silvermist, Raven-Symoné is Iridessa, Kristin Chenoweth is Rosetta, and Anjelica Huston is Queen Clarion. But the main secondary character this time is Tink's friend Terrence (Jesse McCartney), an earnest young man (I mean, pixie) who screws up because of clumsiness and causes a temporary rift in their friendship. And I can't help but think that someone at Disney may have slyly suggested that a boy character might broaden the family appeal. More humor and adventure makes it more palatable to boys, too.
But my chief complaint about Tinker Bell in the first film was that she was almost unrecognizable. Sure, characters evolve, but "Tinker Bell" presented a golly-gee good girl whose flawless goody-two-shoes act seemed galaxies away from the character in Peter Pan who ordered Wendy shot down and pulled her rival's hair. This time, Tink has a temper, and that's good, because nothing's worse than a two-dimensional character in a three-dimensional CGI movie. At least now she's more believable, and that temper and impatience of hers ins nicely woven into the plot.
The relatively new Klay Hall, who previously directed only TV episodes--one "Simpsons," nine "King of the Hill," and some "Family Dog"--rises to the challenge and gives us a no-sag adventure that really helps the script from Disney regular Evan Spiliotopoulos, who previously penned the screenplays for "The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning," "Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie," and "Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers."
In the animation department, Disney does a fantastic job once more. "Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure" is a visual delight, and the cartoonists' and animators attention to detail gives the stunning picture quality something to showcase other than the clarity and style itself. The animation is superb. We're not talking TV-quality drawing or animation. This is feature-quality work.
The plot may not be the most original, but at least it's not the kind of high-school jealousy nonsense we got in the first installment. This outing, the queen decides to entrust Tinker Bell with the job of constructing a scepter which will hold a rare moonstone. Then, like something out of Indiana Jones, that scepter has to be placed in just the right spot so the Blue Moon can hit the stone and somehow create pixie dust. Don't try to think about this too hard. It's a fairy world. It doesn't have to make sense. Anyway, tinkers are builders and repair specialists, which is good, because with a friend like Terrence around, things tend to get broken. It's when the moonstone itself crashes that the adventure part begins, for Tinker Bell decides to go off in search of a magic mirror that went down in a shipwreck, a mirror that contains one last wish.
Now, see, you're thinking again, and I told you to suspend belief. That's why "Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure" is still going to appeal mostly to little girls. Boys will wish for more moments like the bat trying to chase down and eat Tink's firefly friend, Blaze. Maybe the next installment will address this deficiency. Certainly there's more humor this outing, and Tink has more personality because she's allowed flaws. Maybe people at Disney are reading the reviews and taking them to heart. Stranger things have happened.
"Tinker Bell" is rated G for general audiences. Apart from that one moment of peril, and to a bug, there's really nothing offensive here and nothing to traumatize youngsters. It's just good, well-animated, Pixie fun.
"Tinker Bell" looks superb in 1080p, presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio and transferred to a BD-50 disc using AVC/MPEG-4 technology. Colors are cheery, with full saturation, and the animation is a pleasing combination of rounded faces and small objects rendered convincingly large through the use of precise detail and sharp edges. This film the animation challenges were greater, and in Blu-ray, it's a real marvel to watch. The picture quality is jaw-dropping. There's no other way to put it.
Disney used a PCM soundtrack on the first volume, but switched to an English 5.1 DTS-HD MA (48kHz/24-bit) for this one. I'm a big fan of PCM, and so to me there's a slight drop-off in sonic dynamics. There's rear speaker action, but given the hive of activity in this Pixie world, you'd expect a little more involvement. As it is, the sound tends to hover a little too close to the effects speakers for my taste. Still, the bass booms, the treble is especially bright, dialogue is clear-as-a-Tinker, and it's a quality audio--just not as strong as the first volume. Alternate audio options are French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, with subtitles in English SDH, French, and Spanish.
Surprisingly, there's not much in the way of bonus features. A "Magical Guide to Pixie Hollow" is just a screen-to-screen tour of Pixie Hollow that offers no surprises and not much in the way of interactivity. An overview of a new Disney World ride is also pretty short (under 10 minutes) and doesn't tell us anything surprising. But, of course, Disney lovers will welcome the sneak peek. The only other bonus features are a music video from Demi Lovato ("The Gift of a Friend") and 20 minutes worth of deleted scenes and outtakes, each with filmmaker introduction. The latter is probably the most fascinating, because the scenes are cobbled together from various stages of animation, including rough drawings and selective color tests. It can be a little jarring to watch, but educational.
"Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure" is a better movie that the first "Tinker Bell," and the animated world of Pixie Hollow is so wonderful to look at that it's the kind of movie destined for repeat play. Disney princesses should be delighted with this installment. And it comes in a Blu-ray combo pack with DVD, so this title has "legs."