Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: The Pirate Fairy
The Tinker Bell franchise began in 2008 and while they've never received a full theatrical release domestically, they've become huge hits on the home market. The latest installment is The Pirate Fairy, which is the fifth film released in six years. Has the franchise finally run out of stream? Or is this film just as entertaining as the past ones?
The film begins by introducing Zarina, a dust-keeper fairy. She's walking to work, because she's run out of Pixie Dust, again. This happens a lot, which is ironic given her job. She loves her job, she really loves her job, in part because she is so fascinated with the properties of Pixie Dust. She asks a lot of questions that none of the other fairies are remotely interested in. As her boss says, she's a lot like Tinker Bell in that way. There is a difference. Tinkering with stuff you find to make new inventions is fine, because even if they don't work, you haven't caused a lot of trouble. If you experiment with Pixie Dust, especially Blue Dust, the most important Pixie Dust there is, one mistake could cause irreparable harm. This is why Dust Keepers are forbidden from tampering with the Pixie Dust.
That night after work, Zarina returns home and we see she has been experimenting at home, a lot. She's never gotten a result; however, and she's becoming despondent. She is about to give up when a single grain of Blue Pixie Dust floats down from her hair. It must have gotten in there when she was messing around at work. She takes a tiny chunk of the grain and mixes it with one of her experiments and suddenly she has a result. She's created Orange Pixie Dust that can bend moonbeams, something only Light fairies should be able to do. She's really excited and rushes over to Tinker Bell to tell her, hoping to have a kindred spirit. Tinker Bell, however, worries that these experiments could be too dangerous. And she's right. Pink Pixie dust replicated the powers of Garden Fairies, but she spills a bunch on a plant causing it to grow out of control, so much so that it destroyed the Pixie Dust depot where she works. She is fired as a result and leaves Pixie Hollow.
The next year, during the Seasons Festival, Zarina returns. However, she's not there to celebrate with the rest of the Pixies. She uses her new Pink Pixie Dust to grow giant poppies, which she uses to put all of the Pixies to sleep. Fortunately, Rosetta realizes what Zarina is up to and is able to get the gang to safety. Afterward, they chase Zarina to the coast, where they spot pirates. At first they think Zarina was captured by the pirates and forced to steal the Blue Pixie Dust, but in reality, Zarina is the Pirate Captain. They try to get the Blue Pixie Dust back, but in the process Zarina hits them with Pixie dust in a rainbow of colors that knocks them out. When they wake up, they feel fine, for the most part, but soon realize their powers have been switched.
How they react enters into spoiler territory, so we will end the plot summary there.
The Pirate Fairy is a very good kids movie and is easily better than the vast majority of similar releases aimed at the same target demographic. It has all of the same strengths of the other films in the franchise, including strong characters and good writing. This film has more action in it than most similar releases, and the stakes feel much higher. The loss of the Blue Pixie Dust goes beyond the usual "be true to yourself" message of these movies. (Although, there is still some of that here.) The action with the pirates also elevates the movie by bringing it closer to its roots by introducing a number of characters we see in Peter Pan. (I'm not going to say who they are, but given the name of the movie, you can probably guess at least one of them.) Again the technical prowess of the movie is much better than most direct-to-DVD releases, and quite frankly, it is better than several digitally animated films that earned theatrical releases last year.
The extras begin with Second Star to the Right, which is a five-minute featurette looking at the film's inspiration and how it borrowed from the mythology of the original story and the 1953 movie. Croc-u-mentary is a five-minute look at crocodiles. Up next are four deleted scenes, plus an introduction. There is a four-minute featurette on the making of the song, "The Frigate That Flies". There are two short films, Aarrgh! and Treasure Chest., both are just over a minute long. Finally, you can sing-along to "Who I Am" and "The Frigate That Flies". Of these extras, only the Croc-u-mentary and the short films are on the DVD.
Like I said above, this movie looks better than a lot of theatrical digitally animated releases. The video in particular is amazing. The level of details is sharp, the colors are vivid, while there are no digital artifacts or compression issues to deal with. The audio is nearly as strong with an energetic 7.1 surround sound mix. The dialogue is always clear, while the surround sound speakers are active with music, ambient sounds, etc. There's perhaps not quite as much dynamic effects as there could have been, especially in the climatic battle, but it is still much better than most kids movies get.
The Blu-ray costs $23, which is $5 or 28% more than the DVD. This is a good deal for a Blu-ray with exclusive extras and such a strong technical presentation.
The Pirate Fairy might be the second last film in the franchise. If this is true, at least the franchise looks to go out on a strong note. There are not a lot of extras on the DVD but the Blu-ray Combo Pack is certainly worth picking up.
- Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Date posted: 2014-03-31