Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Tink Week: Day Three

Last time, we discussed the first film in the Disney Fairies franchise.  It was a pretty decent story that introduced a science-focused heroine with a group of uniquely gifted/powered friends.  It was clean, well-written, and left the doors wide open for a sequel that would help flesh out the secondary characters and expand the world.

Instead, we get kinda-sorta half of that, with an action-adventure film that develops exactly one (1) character and takes us completely away from Pixie Hollow.

This is Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure.

With the success of the first film (it had a $30-$35 million dollar budget and brought in $62 million worldwide), it was inevitable a sequel would be made.  Strangely enough, most of the supporting cast (read: all of Tinker Bell's friends) are mostly absent from this film, only getting one or two lines and a few minutes of screen time each.  However, they do bring a character from the first movie named Terrence (voiced by Jesse McCartney) into the forefront.  Terrence is a "dust keeper fairy" who had a few key scenes in the first movie but was pretty forgettable.

The movie shows us pretty early on the influence Tinker Bell has had on Pixie Hollow since her arrival and "redemption" after she messed up the changing of the seasons.  There are elaborate conveyor belt systems, paddle boats, and other devices crafted together from simple woodland objects and "lost items," indicating that Tinker Bell has gone full-on Tony Stark/Reed Richards in her creation of new items.

Tinker Bell gets called up to meet with Queen Clarion.  Initially expecting it to be her getting in trouble again ("It's not my fault, your highness!  Those stinkbugs were asking for it!"), but it turns out she's been picked to created a new scepter for the Blue Harvest Moon Festival.  Containing a "moon stone," it catches the rays of the harvest moon and the resulting blue pixie dust it creates keeps the magic of Pixie Hollow going.

Terrence volunteers to help her out, but as time progresses the two have a falling out, and the moon stone accidentally gets shattered.  Tinker Bell, distraught that she might have just doomed her home, winds up hearing a legend of a magical artifact long lost across the sea that can grant wishes.  She gathers up some supplies, builds herself a hot air balloon out of cotton balls and pixie dust, and heads out to recover the artifact, fix the moon stone, and save Pixie Hollow.  On her way she'll make a new friend in Blaze, a lightning bug, and find herself making new friends and learning an important lesson about forgiveness and true friendship., it's hard to write a few for something like this without looking like you're trying to write the blurb for the back of the DVD box.

It's interesting that the movie doesn't really provide us with an antagonist this time (Vidia does appear, but doesn't even get a speaking line), instead having it be a lesson about how things don't always work out the way you expect them to, the importance of being able to improvise, and how you can't let things that annoy or frustrate you about your friends let you ruin friendships.  The movie does these quite well, since Tinker Bell is already well-established as getting angry easily, and while everybody winds up being partly at fault for everything that happens (Terrence is nosy and intrusive, Tink flies off the handle easily), I don't think the plot misses much by not having a villain in it.

The Good:

Even though they only get a few lines each, they do let the side fairies get some more character development here.  Key amongst them is Silvermist, who we really get a bit more development about how she isn't really that bright ("It, it was just an accident, and she just exploded!"  "Gasp! She EXPLODED?"), but it's not done in a negative way.  She doesn't sound vapid, or drag out vowels, or seem incapable of doing anything (she's actually quite capable at her job and even explains a few things about friendship to Terrence, showing she's observant).  She's also kind, considerate, and really, really funny, so it adds to the character instead of subtracting from it.

Pictured: adorbs.

There's also some interesting history tidbits about Pixie Hollow that help flesh out just how everything works.  The question of where pixie dust comes from is answered more fully, and we get to see more of the area beyond just the tree and immediate surroundings.

Whenever a map involves a big cloudy area with a question mark on it, you know you're in for a fun trip.
There's more variety to the creatures Tinker Bell interacts with (including two trolls voiced by the same actors who do Bobble and Clank, and it's a testament to their talents that I didn't recognize them).  We also meet some other new, interesting fairies, such as Lyria (voiced pretty amazingly by Grey DeLisle), a story-telling fairy who has a really creative use of pixie dust in her performances.

Tinker Bell is also portrayed extremely well by Mae Whitman.  I didn't give her as much credit as I should have in the last movie, but she's a very strong voice actress.

The Bad: 

OH MY GOD could Terrence be any more bland?  Aside from being a bit too eager to clean and be "helpful," often making him more irritating than anything, the guy has almost no real personality or depth.  He's just the "nice guy who wants to help out with perfect hair and teeth."  Sure, it's annoying that he thinks he knows best, but the movie never goes out of its way to make it look like he DOESN'T know best.

The animation can feel a little animatronic in this movie, something I don't really think I noticed the first time around, but has become more apparent after seeing the later movies.  Again, this isn't a huge problem as I know that animation gets better the more it's done, but it's a bit jarring to see now.

I do wish that more of the cast got a chance to be part of the story.  It feels weird that they'd still have such an all-star cast for just a few lines each, but I guess I do need to point out that Fawn is no longer voiced by America Ferrera here, instead being replaced by Angela Bartys.  Honestly?  I didn't really notice much difference.  Vidia didn't even get any lines in the movie despite being such a major character in the first one.


While not the movie I expected to follow up the first film, I have to say this is a pretty solid adventure film.  You have a desperate quest with a time limit attached to it, encounters with strange creatures in fantastic settings, and even a dangerous threat late in the game provided by some rats (which, when you're fairy-sized, are really scary).  It's another fun movie that I think continues a solid trend.  They just need to work on the characterization a bit more, and they'll have something really solid.

So come back next time, when we get to watch something really solid.

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