Disney movie review: "The Pirate Fairy"
Everyone familiar with the Disney film classic "Peter Pan" knows that fairies and pirates have a history with one another. Now a new Disney movie release adds a little back story to the swashbuckling adventures of both Captain Hook and the easily piqued pixie Tink.
Disney's Tinker Bell movie franchise is back this week with its fifth installment, "The Pirate Fairy," a direct-to-DVD release. My elementary-school-age children have been following the series since it first started in 2008, so they were excited about Tuesday's launch. And apparently, they were not the only ones: When I visited our local Target store at 10 a.m., the sales clerk already was restocking the shelf after the first round of buyers had emptied it.
With engaging stories, vivid animation and memorable songs, it's easy to see why the franchise is so popular with kids and families.
"The Pirate Fairy" introduces viewers to a new fairy, Zarina, a Dust Keeper who cannot resist the temptation to experiment with the fairy's all-important pixie dust. She is especially interested in the blue dust, which is the key ingredient in producing the massive quantities of pixie dust needed to allow all the fairies to fly. Fairy Gary, the pixie dust manager, cannot allow her tampering and puts a stop to her shenanigans, which leads Zarina to run away from Pixie Hollow.
She doesn't give up, though, and returns a year later to steal the blue dust. Tinker Bell, Rosetta, Vidia, Fawn, Silvermist and Iridessa pursue Zarina to Skull Rock, where they are surprised to find out she is the captain of the pirates. At this point, the story begins to encompass more elements of "Peter Pan," and we learn some of the back story of the series that introduced us to Tinker Bell. For example, it's revealed that James, the cabin boy who is Zarina's confidant, will become the infamous Captain Hook. They must possess the pixie dust to make their pirate ship fly around the world as they plunder whatever they can steal.
Of course, the good and evil sides clash, leading to some harrowing battles and even some humorous moments. As a Dust Keeper, Zarina is able to aim different shades of pixie dust at the band of fairies, which changes their talents. Rosetta, the garden fairy, suddenly becomes an animal fairy. Tick-Tock, the baby crocodile, recognizes this and showers her with his affection, which leaves viewers laughing.
Directed by Peggy Holmes, "The Pirate Fairy" stars the voices of Tom Hiddleston as Captain (James) Hook and Christina Hendricks as Zarina, and brings back Mae Whitman, Megan Hilty, Lucy Liu, Raven-SymonĂ©, and Anjelica Huston. The high-profile cast has been the subject of much anticipation since it was announced at D23 last summer. Hiddleston is a Disney film veteran who has starred as Marvel's Loki in the "Thor" movies and most recently played The Great Escapo in "Muppets Most Wanted." Hendricks is best known for her portrayal of Joan Harris on television's hit drama, "Mad Men."
The soundtrack for "The Pirate Fairy," which also went on sale digitally on April 1, also boasts the work of a well-known artist. Grammy-nominated Natasha Bedingfield performs an original song called "Who I Am," and the album will feature her previously released track, "Weightless," as well. Composer Joel McNeely created the original score for this movie, as he did the previous four films.
"The Pirate Fairy" moves the Tinker Bell franchise forward, giving families a fun and age-appropriate movie in the process. And, though the movie features plenty of antagonism between Zarina and the other fairies, this movie - like others in the franchise - also offers some entertaining lessons about how to overcome conflict and achieve reconciliation. It's a perfect animated adventure that sails toward that fabled second star to the right as long as we're willing to see it through the eyes of youngsters who know well the feeling of never wanting to grow up.