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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Tinker Bell: Secret of the Wings

October 21st, 2012

Tinker Bell: Secret of the Wings - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray Combo Pack, or 3D Combo Pack

The Character of Tinker Bell is one of the most famous is all of animation history. First appearing in Peter Pan almost 60 years ago, the character became the defacto mascot for Walt Dinsey since then. In 2008, Tinker Bell was released direct-to-DVD and despite some trepidation, the film earn amazing reviews and was a big hit on the home market. This year, the four direct-to-DVD release comes out, but will Tinker Bell: Secret of the Wings live up to the previous releases? Or is the franchise getting tired.

The Movie

The film begins with Tinker Bell and two of her fellow Tinker fairies, Clank and Bobble , weaving baskets. They are to be taken to the Winter Woods where they will collect the snow needed to change the season from fall to winter. Tinker Bell would love to go into the Winter Woods, but the others warn her against doing that. Bobble says its too cold, while Clank warns her about the stealthy glaciers. The dire warnings are nothing compared to seeing the snowy owls fly to the Winter Woods.

The basket weaving is interrupted when a runaway bunny leaps through the Tinker Fairies' workshop. Fawn (Angela Bartys) is trying to get all the hibernating animals to the Winter Woods and this one bunny is a bit of a handful. Tinker Bell immediately offers to help, but is disappointed to learn they won't get a chance to go to the Winter Woods. No Warm Fairies can go into the Winter Woods, just like to Winter Fairies are not allowed to leave. It's the rules of Lord Milori, the lord of Winter. However, as anyone who watches these movies knows, Tink isn't one to let rules get in her way and while Fawn is distracted, she leaps into the Winter Woods. When she crosses, she doesn't freeze, in fact, she kind of likes the cold and her wings begin to sparkle. Before she can get any deeper into Winter, Fawn "rescues" her and brings her back.

Once back home, Tinker Bell is sent to the doctor to make sure she didn't damage her wings, but no one believes her about the sparkling. She tries to look up what sparkling wings mean at the library, but a bookworm ate the pages out of the book. When she asks the librarian if he knows, he tells her only the Keeper knows that. The Keeper wrote all of the books and keeps all of the knowledge about fairies. However, The Keeper is a Winter Fairy. With that, Tinker Bell is even more determined to go to the Winter Woods. This time, she sneak into one of the baskets that is to be delivered to the Winter Woods. She makes it all the way to to the Keeper, but before she can talk to him, another fairy comes to see him. Periwinkle is worried because earlier that day, her wings started to sparkle and they are starting to sparkle again. This is when she learns...

At this point we have a bit of a spoiler. It turns out both Tinker Bell and Periwinkle were created from the same baby's laugh. When a baby laughs for the first time, a new fairy is created, first in the form of a little light, then as a dandelion seed, then as a full fairy. But this time, the light split into two, but one traveled to Pixie Hollow and became Tinker Bell and the other blew into the Winter Woods and became Periwinkle. This means the two are sisters.

The pair spend the day with Periwinkle's friends, Gliss and Spike (Debby Ryan). That night Tinker Bell has to go back home, because it really is too dangerous for a Warm Fairy in the Winter Woods. However, when they say goodbye, Tinker Bell reveals she has a plan to help Periwinkle cross into Pixie Hollow to see her world. Tinker Bell will create, with the help of her friends, a snow machine to help keep Periwinkle cold long enough to get to visit all of Pixie Hollow. It works... for a little bit. However, it becomes clear that the warmth of Pixie Hollow isn't just uncomfortable for Periwinkle, it could melt her wings. She barely gets back to Winter Woods in time. And when she gets there, she greeted by Lord Milori, who is not happy the fairies broke the rules. He again says that that the two worlds must remain separate and when Tinker Bell objects to his rule, Queen Clarion arrives to say it's her rule. But why would Queen Clarion make such a rule?

As Lord Milori leaves the border between the two worlds, he flies upon his snowy owl and knocks the snow machine into the river hoping to destroy it. However, instead it gets stuck with the water moving the pedals and ice building up on the front, it begins to make snow. It begins to make a tremendous amount of snow. This can't be good.

When I first heard of the plans to create a direct-to-DVD franchise based around Tinker Bell, I was cautiously optimistic. Walt Dinsey's direct-to-DVD films have had a bad reputation, and for good reason, as most of them were terrible. However, the first film wasn't just good compared to the average direct-to-DVD Disney film, it was good enough that I thought it could have had a theatrical release. Since then, each of the films have maintained this high quality level, including Tinker Bell: Secret of the Wings.

The movie has all of the strengths of the previous films, including a terrific story that is filled with heart and adventure. Maybe the movie has a little too much plot. There's a lot crammed into the film's 75-minute running time. We have the initial plot about preparing for winter and Tinker Bell wanting to go into the Winter Woods. We have her meeting Periwinkle and all that entails. We have her learning about the dangers of Warm Fairies and Winter Fairies crossing over. Then we have the final adventure portion of the film. That's a lot to deal with. Fortunately, the characters and the world have been firmly established, so we can get right into the plot and don't need to worry about setting up characters or motivations. We know why Tinker Bell would be so willing to break the rules for an adventure, because that's just who she is. We get a few more characters added into the mix, but only Periwinkle gets much screen time. The animation is also excellent and is much closer to theatrical quality than the quality of the average direct-to-DVD release. Granted, it's not up to the level of Brave, for instance, but it never looks cheap.

Overall, Tinker Bell: Secret of the Wings is absolutely worth checking out and is a worthy addition to one of the best Direct-to-DVD franchise around.

The Extras

Extras start with Pixie Hollow Games, which is a 22-minute TV special based on the franchise. In the short film, we are introduced to a new garden fairy, Chloe, who is training to compete in the Pixie Hollow Games, the fairy equivalent to the Olympics. Rosetta (Megan Hilty) dismisses their chances and the Garden Fairies are on a major losing streak, so much so that none of the other fairies are even interested in competing and Chloe's teammate will be chosen at random from a basket. It's Rosetta. After trying to get out of it, she relents. She's not too worried; after all, it's not like the Garden Fairies are going to last more than one competition. No Garden Fairy team has lasted past the first day. They are certainly no match for Rumble (Jason Dolley) and Glimmer (Tiffany Thornton), who are going for a record-breaking fifth win in a row. However, when they make it past the first competition by accident (literally) the rest of the Garden Fairies start to cheer for Chloe. And when Chloe makes Rosetta feel like part of the team, the two decide to try and win it all. It's a fun short film that is entertaining and does have a nice message as well. It is also nice to see a different fairy given the spotlight. Perhaps other fairies will get their own specials later on.

The other extras are two music videos, the first is for "Great Divide" by McClain Sisters and the second is for "Dig Down Deeper" by Zendaya. There is also a 1-minute preview for Fright Light.

As we've become accustomed, the Blu-ray looks incredible. The animation isn't quite as detailed as a tentpole animated release would be, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with this transfer. The colors are incredible, the blacks are deep, and there's never any compression issues. The audio is strong, but not as strong as the video. There's no problems to deal with and the dialogue is always clear and there's no issue with high or low frequency sounds, but the audio isn't as complicated. There are enough ambient sounds and directional effects to be effective, but it isn't showy. 3D effects are well done and help add a lot of depth to the film's visuals. This is more important that throwing things at the screen, although there is some of that as well. Snow looks awesome in 3D. The video quality isn't quite as strong in 3D as it is in 2D and there's some aliasing and banding, but it is very minor.

As for the prices, the DVD costs just $17, which would be good for this type of release without the TV special. With the TV special, it is a bargain. The Blu-ray combo pack costs $6 or about 30% more and given the quality of the video, it is worth it. Finally, the 3D combo pack is $30 or about 30% more than the Blu-ray combo pack. This is on par with similar releases. $7 or $8 is the usual premium for 3D.

The Verdict

If you liked the previous Tinker Bell releases, then Tinker Bell: Secret of the Wings is absolutely worth adding to your collection. Thanks to the bonus TV special, the DVD is a great deal; however, the Blu-ray Combo Pack is worth the upgrade. And if you've made the leap to 3D, the 3D Combo Pack is worth paying $7 more for.

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Filed under: Video Review, Secret of the Wings, Jeff Bennett, Timothy Dalton, Anjelica Huston, Rob Paulsen, Mae Whitman, Grey Delisle, Lucy Hale, Brenda Song