Published on SoCal.com
For many years, the only image most people had of Tinker Bell was of the headstrong, bell-voiced fairy who loved Peter Pan and held a major grudge against Wendy Darling. She was rude, impudent and had a major attitude: in short, she was a real brat.
Despite her flaws, Tinker Bell remained hugely popular. It was no surprise then, following the success of the Disney Princess franchise, that the next move was to launch Disney Fairies with 2008’s DVD release Tinker Bell, followed by 2009’s Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure.
The third DVD in this series, Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, MSRP: $29.99 or 2-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, MSRP: $39.99) finds the fairies headed to the mainland as summer arrives. Soon after arriving in fairy camp (hidden from human eyes inside a huge tree), Tinker Bell (voiced by Mae Whitman) is warned to stay away from humans. The sight of an automobile rolling down the road proves too irresistible, however, and Tink is off to investigate.
Her frenemy Vidia (Pamela Adlon) follows along, both trying to talk Tinker Bell out of her adventure and relishing her disobedience. Tinker Bell’s curiosity eventually leads to her capture by a little girl named Lizzy (Lauren Mote), who is summering in the cottage across the field from fairy camp.
Lizzy has believed in fairies her entire life, much to the chagrin of her scientifically-minded father, Dr. Griffiths (Michael Sheen). When the young girl proudly tries to show her father the real live fairy she’s captured, she finds him studying a butterfly specimen and realizes that if he knew about Tink, he’d put her on display in a museum. Instead, she takes her to her room, and Tink is placed in an old birdcage to avoid becoming a meal for a fat housecat. Watching from outside, Vidia is horrified and races back to camp to round up help.
Meanwhile, Tinker Bell warms up to Lizzy, whose great belief in fairies is evident by the many figurines and drawings covering her walls. The fairy soon feels compelled to correct some misconceptions about her kind, despite a few minor communication challenges (every time Tinker Bell speaks, Lizzy only hears ringing bells). Over a rainy afternoon, the two fill a field journal full of “scientific facts” about fairies.
In the meantime, Vidia reaches fairy camp and gathers the others to mount a rescue attempt. The pouring rain makes it impossible to fly, and the meadow is flooded, so it takes some real inspiration to find a solution--fueled, of course, by “faith, trust and pixie dust.”
What follows is an adventure that is bolder than any of the previous Tinker Bell movies, and more fraught with danger. While Tinker Bell is befriending a human, her fairy friends are navigating waterfalls, dodging car tires and playing a literal game of cat-and-mouse with Mr. Twitches. There are also scenes of Tinker Bell flying around inside a moving car that might cause some anxiety.
Though Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue is a straight-to-DVD release, it is theatrical quality and worthy of its Disney heritage. Of the three Tinker Bell features, this one offers the biggest emotional payoff, as Lizzy’s father turns from “Without proof, it’s just a fairy tale” to “I do believe!,” connecting with his daughter in a way many children of overscheduled parents might appreciate.
Disney is a company that definitely embraces special features, and The Great Fairy Rescue doesn’t disappoint. Among the many sneak peeks and previews offered is one for the upcoming Rapunzel film, Tangled. The Tangled bonus feature takes viewers behind the scenes of the animated Disney film as co-director Nathan Greno and actors Mandy Moore (Rapunzel) and Zachary Levi (Flynn Ryder) share their experiences along with clips of the movie, due out in theaters Nov. 24.
There is also a preview of the upcoming Tinker Bell and the Mysterious Winter Woods, which is scheduled for release in early 2011. This will complete the four seasons portrayed in the Tinker Bell movies, and brings viewers one step closer to Tink’s meeting with Peter Pan. But fans of the fairy shouldn’t despair: a fifth movie, Tinker Bell: Race Through the Seasons, is slated for mid-2012.
The deleted scenes section offers three scenes that were cut for time or story reasons. As usual with animated features, the scenes are mainly storyboarded (think: those flip books you used to make as a kid), but one scene (“Cat Attack”) was so beloved by the crew that they completed it in full color. “Lizzy’s Bedtime Story” is portrayed both in the storyboard style and in an intermediate “gray scale” version, where some of the scene is colored in. It’s a fascinating peek at the many levels of production that animated movies go through. Finally, “A Real Live Fairy” offers a reason for Lizzy’s father’s firm insistence in scientific fact: when he was a young boy, he encountered a fairy of his own--with disastrous consequences. Though the scene was cut because producers believed that it took away from some of the magic of Lizzy meeting Tinker Bell for the first time, it’s a very strong scene that helps put a new perspective on Dr. Griffiths’ actions.
As with the other two Tinker Bell movies, The Great Fairy Rescue features a polished soundtrack, including the inspiring "How To Believe" by Bridgit Mendler. The video for her song is included as one of the bonus features, and it’s every bit as colorful and frothy as you’d expect it to be.
A feature called “Design a Fairy House” shows director Bradley Raymond talking about a contest that challenged children to design…well, you know. The short documents winner Zoe Periale’s journey from California to Florida, where she lived every little girl’s dream and built a fairy house that was put on display during the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.
The final bonus feature, “Fairy Field Guide Builder,” is a game that reviews fairy trivia and offers a simple quiz in order to help viewers build their own field guide of scientific facts. Those who buy the DVD/Blu-ray release can also mail in for a Tinker Bell charm and bracelet with purchase.
Faith, trust and pixie dust. Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue proves that seeing is believing. Without proof, it’s just a fairy tale.
Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.