We're now getting into what I call the "better" Tinker Bell movies. The first two were good, but a bit limited by animation and lack of character development. This film, we get LOTS of character development and a more personal story, but there are still some extremely high stakes.
Oh, and Vidia's back, so bonus points.
So, even though "only specific fairies get to go to the mainland" was a HUGE issue in the first movie, it's glossed over pretty quickly as most of the cast returns and gets to visit the mainland as part of a "summer camp." It's interesting that each of the movies so far (and the next one) involve a specific "season" being in play. For the first one, it was spring, the second was autumn, and now we have summer.
Tinker Bell, upon learning that there's a "human house" nearby (complete with British father and daughter residing there), is immediately drawn to it and becomes fascinated by the "horseless carriage" that drives past where the pixies are residing. Vidia, having followed Tinker Bell, convinces her to head back after Tinker Bell manages to essentially figure out how a car works in detail after just looking at it for a couple of minutes. I swear, she really is the Tony Stark of fairies.
On their way back (they have to walk after Tinker Bell accidentally gets Vidia wet, meaning her wings won't work), they stumble upon a tiny toy "fairy house." Tinker Bell immediately investigates, and Vidia gets annoyed to the point of using a gust of wind to slam the door shut. When the daughter shows up and realizes her "fairy house" has actually caught a fairy, she rushes it home to show her father.
We get a rather morbid scene where Tinker Bell, Vidia, and the girl realize that if her father (a scientist who works at...I don't remember the exact name, so I'm going to call it the "Museum of London") discovers she has a fairy in her possession...well, a rather morbid scene showing a lot of butterflies pinned behind glass shows what could happen.
Vidia rushes back to get the other fairies to save Tinker Bell while Tinker Bell and the girl befriend each other, and Tinker Bell finds herself getting caught up between the relationship of the overworked, neglectful father who wants his daughter to stop believing in silly fantasy creatures like fairies, and the neglected daughter who still believes there's lots of magic in the world that science can't explain. She also helps the girl compose her own "fairy journal" to put down (and help the audience understand) what fairies are all about.
Towards the end, when the father does discover that fairies are in fact real, we have a desperate chase to stop him from delivering a live specimen to the museum and revealing to the world that fairies are real.
The stakes, as I said before, are nowhere near as high in this movie as they were in the first one. For the most part, it's a simple rescue mission through most of the film, with a slight twist towards the end in who's being the rescuer and who's being rescued. For the most part, the film is character driven, with each of the cast getting a lot more screen time and real additions to their personality. We already knew about Vidia's grouchiness, but we get to see that the (pardon the phrase) Alpha Bitch of the group does, in fact, have a heart, and she spends a lot of the movie worried about being found out that she's the reason Tinker Bell got captured. When the reveal does happen, there's a perceptible shift in how she behaves around her new "friends" when they comfort her by saying "look, Tinker Bell does lot of stupid stuff on her own, if it wasn't you, it would've been something else."
Tinker Bell also gets some more growth as we see her interact with Lizzie, the daughter, and some more questions about "how do fairies work" get answered. She takes it upon herself to make some "repairs" to the house (being an old cottage, it tends to leak a lot when it rains). There's also a great scene later on where Tinker Bell flips out on Lizzie's father after he yells at her, and while we know she's screaming and verbally tearing him a new one, from his perspective he just sees this tiny little red-faced fairy making bell noises while it gestures wildly. It's probably one of the funniest scenes in the movie.
But I want to focus on the rest of the rescue party. After getting just a few bare hints of personality from them before, a lot of them really grow and develop here. They all also each get a chance to show off what they do, and "save the day." Bobble and Clank actually show their own "tinker" ingenuity by creating a complex sailing ship from scratch (and also show a surprising knowledge of boat terminology). Iridessa continues to be the "team coward" even though she manages to save all the fairies from a car bearing down on them, Fawn steps up to deal with the family's pet cat (because all cats are evil in Disney movies where the heroes are tiny), Silvermist gets to do her control over water during the boat scenes, but I think the best growth and development happens with Rosetta. She gets developed into being a total "princess" who doesn't like to get dirty ("But you're a GARDEN FAIRY." "Eh-heh. Ironic, isn't it?") which matches up perfectly with
I swear, nobody can make an Oklahoma accent sound as good as her. The way she can raise her voice high and then drop it low during less "happy" moments is great. And the "Squishy, ew-hewww" line is perfectly delivered.
Um, there's not really much "bad" about it.
I find it rather interesting how the father is portrayed in the movie. He's obviously in the wrong for discouraging his daughter from being so fixated that fairies are real because we're watching a movie starring fairies, and yet, we in the real world know he's not really wrong. His only real crime is wanting his daughter to find real things in the world as interesting as he does, as we see he gives her his old scientific journals from when he was young. There is a lot of stuff in the real world that can be just as fascinating to someone young (I mean, our lead character is an engineer for Pete's sake, so Disney is clearly not opposed to science being something great for children to be interested in), but in the context of this movie, he of course has to be wrong.
I did find it interesting that Terrence, the big "love interest" of the last movie, essentially disappears after the first few minutes of this movie, just to show up in the last couple of minutes again. Maybe the writers realized what I did, just how absolutely bland he is. So I guess, technically speaking, "less Terrence" should be in the "good" section.
I guess I will say that while the animation of the fairies is improved from the last film, the human characters look a bit off, though that might be because of the scale difference. The father, in particular, doesn't seem as well "crafted" as the male fairies do.
Yeah, um, there really isn't anything bad to say about this movie. Strong character development between an interesting cast of characters, a character-driven story with several really good action/adventure sequences throughout, and a heartwarming story about the importance of putting family first...this is a really high quality piece of animation, easily my favorite for now. I would almost recommend skipping the second movie and showing your family this one after the first one, then come back to the second afterwards, except the advances in animation in this one might make the second one look "off."
I'm going to toss this out there now, between how much I enjoy the cast, the writing, and how simple the stories are, there's a chance this one of the series (if not the franchise itself) could end up on my "best of the year" list.
Even if the films don't, Vidia will. Snarky characters are the best.