I wasn’t particularly generous the first time I encountered one of Disney’s straight-to-video (although released theatrically in the UK) “Tinker Bell” movies. No, I wasn’t enamoured of “Tinker Bell And The Pirate Fairy” at all. My main complaint was how shoddily Zarina (the titular pirate fairy) was treated because she was so fascinated with science, technology and experimentation. Fast forward a couple of years and one increasingly fairy-enamoured three year old daughter and I have to admit, my opinion has changed quite a lot. I’ve watched several of the “Tinker Bell” films now, many, many, many times and – even though it may be the Stockholm Syndrome talking – I’m actually starting to appreciate them more.
“Tinker Bell And The Secret Of The Wings” is actually the fairy’s fourth adventure (and the one which preceded “Tinker Bell And The Pirate Fairy”), telling the story of the winter fairies, one of whom has a very special connection to Tink herself. When Tinker Bell’s curiosity leads her to stray across the winter border of Pixie Hollow, just before she is rescued, she notices her wings are sparkling in an unusual and magical way. Determined to find out why, she manages to smuggle herself into the frosty domain of Lord Milori but the rule preventing fairies from crossing the frontier is there for a reason and all of Pixie Hollow may be in danger.
Perhaps it’s my familiarity with the society of Pixie Hollow or perhaps I’m just not reading too much into it this time or maybe it’s the sentimental side of me seeing it through my little one’s eyes but I really quite enjoyed this. The story zips along with a breezy and charming lightness. There’s still that recurring theme of rebelling against the status quo but its gentler this time and – maybe because its Tinker Bell herself bending the rules – it’s not shut down quite so harshly by the Pixie Hollow authorities.
The voice talents involved in these films are unusually strong, with Mae Whitman’s Tinker Bell being ably supported by Timothy Dalton, Lucy Lui and Anjelica Huston amongst others and they all do good work. The actual ‘secret’ of the wings is a delightful idea (although it kind of retcons some established events from “Tinker Bell”) and much of the movie spends its time exploring the differences between Pixie Hollow and the Winter Woods rather than any looming plot driven threat. When peril does finally arrive, it’s handled in reassuringly plucky and cooperative fashion, with a neat little deus ex machina right at the finish to end on a high note.
Cute, lightweight and mercifully rewatchable, “Tinker Bell And The Secret Of The Wings” – or more accurately my daughter’s embracing of it – has opened my eyes to the magic of Pixie Hollow. So to anyone offended by my curmudgeonly dismissal of Tinker Bell’s adventures, I apologise. I guess I do believe in fairies after all.