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The Pirate Fairy(2014)
When a misunderstood dust-keeper fairy named Zarina steals Pixie Hollow's all-important Blue Pixie Dust and flies away to join forces with the pirates of Skull Rock, Tinker Bell and her fairy friends must embark on the adventure of a lifetime to return it to its rightful place. However, in the midst of their pursuit of Zarina, Tink's world is turned upside down. She and her friends find that their respective talents have been switched and they have to race against time to retrieve the Blue Pixie Dust and return home to save Pixie Hollow.
For more about The Pirate Fairy and the The Pirate Fairy Blu-ray release, see the The Pirate Fairy Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on April 6, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Mae Whitman, Christina Hendricks, Tom Hiddleston, Lucy Liu, Raven-Symoné, Megan Hilty
Director: Peggy Holmes
» See full cast & crew
The Pirate Fairy Blu-ray Review
Another winning entry in the 'Tinker Bell' series...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, April 6, 2014
Disney is finally, at long last distancing itself from the direct-to-video sequel pitfalls of the late '90s and early '00s, funneling its creative energies into a franchise worthy of annual releases and a legion of young fans. The Tinker Bell movies may be decidedly small scale compared to the Mouse House's feature films, but they show enormous heart, impressive production values, and an understanding of what works, what doesn't and, particularly with The Pirate Fairy, everything that makes the Peter Pan mythos tick. And while it's quite possible I inadvertently sipped the Disney Fairies Kool-Aid somewhere along the line, I have to say it's refreshing to review an ongoing series of animated movies that rise above the Barbies and the Monster Highs of the animated wasteland; movies for little girls that offer life lessons worth learning, messages worth absorbing, and characters worth loving. No, The Pirate Fairy won't appeal to adults as much as their children. Nor will it be confused with a big screen spectacle or drag viewers back time after time for years to come. It's a smartly executed, cleverly penned prequel, though, and one of the more refined installments in the Tinker Bell series. It also happens to feature the origins of one of Disney's most dastardly villains: the delightfully devilish Captain James Bartholomew Hook...
When a rebellious dust-keeper with noble intentions named Zarina (voiced by Christina Hendricks) breaks her people's long-honored rules and begins tinkering with the properties of fairy dust, she's stripped of her responsibilities and assigned another line of work. Heartbroken and furious, she leaves Pixie Hollow, only to find a home with the pirates of Skull Rock. A year later, she returns, traps her fellow fairies in a deep sleep, and steals the same blue pixie dust that caused all her headaches to begin with. Tinker Bell and her friends dodge Zarina's spell, though, and pursue their old friend out across the open seas. Soon their powers are swapped (thanks to another spell cast by Zarina), the very life of the Pixie Dust Tree is once again threatened, and Tinker Bell comes face to face with Zarina's best friend and closest companion, a friendly young pirate named James (Tom Hiddleston) destined to one day clash swords with a young boy determined to never grow up.
The Pirate Fairy steers confidently into perilous prequel waters and delivers... mostly. The fun, zaniness and sneering menace of the pirates of Peter Pan (1953) are intact, James' early relationship with the fairy world and pixie dust is mined for gold, and the retcon'd origin tale of the once and future Captain Hook is surprisingly satisfying. Hiddleston is especially good, treating his voice performance as if it were a full-fledged starring role. (Which is exactly what it is, given how completely he steals the show.) Hendricks is less successful; overshadowed by Hiddleston, yes, but also by the series regulars, each of whom turn in breezy performances. The rest of the film is a tad hit or miss, sure. The power-swap subplot is cute but inconsequential, and the ins and outs of pixie dust is a jumble of junk alchemy and seat-of-the-pants screenwriting. No argument here. But kids will hardly notice, much less care, and it all gives the fairies' latest adventure a bit more of an epic feel than previous movies. So no harm, no foul.
The CG animation is far more reliable. Each Tinker Bell movie looks better than the last and The Pirate Fairy is no different. What begins as a fairly ordinary stroll through Pixie Hollow soon becomes a striking trek across the ocean where a band of miscreants lie in wait at a familiar -- and gorgeously rendered -- island locale. Hook and other characters and elements lifted from Peter Pan, meanwhile, are designed with the tender loving care of artists and animators who clearly treasure, even revere, the original Disney film. James bears a near-perfect resemblance to the Nine Old Men's Captain Hook, in personality, expression and movement. His ship and the vistas of Never Land fit right in. The fairies' interactions with the pirates: dead on. Combined, the various pieces represent an inspired convergence of past and present, with the sixty-year line between director Peggy Holmes' 2014 CG-animated production and producer Walt Disney's 1953 hand-drawn classic being blurred more cleverly and acutely than I anticipated. Had the studio seen fit to go bigger and bolder when green-lighting the pint-sized prequel, The Pirate Fairy could have been refined and expanded into a fully realized theatrical film. It certainly showcases the potential. It just doesn't push past that potential. Ah well, I suppose direct-to-video size and scale will have to do.
The Pirate Fairy Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Pirate Fairy soars with a dazzling little 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation that showcases the relatively high quality of Disney's direct-to-video animation. Colors are brilliant and beautiful, with eye-popping primaries, inky blacks and vibrant contrast. Saturation is exacting too, as is detail, which perfectly captures every nuance of the animators' efforts. Edges are crisp and clean, textures are well-resolved, the smallest specks of pixie dust are impeccably preserved, and the image is as pristine as DTV productions -- scratch that -- any animated production comes. The tiniest hint of banding can be seen in the dark skies above the high seas surrounding Skull Rock, but it's brief and fleeting at its worst and gone long, long before it takes root. There also isn't any significant artifacting or aliasing to note, making Disney's encode an extremely proficient one. I wasn't left with any complaints. I suspect you won't be either.
The Pirate Fairy Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Pirate Fairy is armed with an ambitious DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track. And although it sounds quite good -- great even, especially considering its direct-to-video origins -- it isn't as intensely enveloping or full-bodied as the sort of mix that accompanies Disney's theatrical releases. Now, if anyone is surprised by that, raise your hand. Anyone? Anyone? Moving on. Voices are clear and intelligible from start to finish and, like the various effects, nicely grounded in the soundscape. LFE output is strong too, with crashing waves, groaning ship bows and weighty action beats (particularly in the movie's third act, when the fairies battle the pirates). The rear speakers are just as assertive, wrapping the forests of Pixie Hollow and the oceans of Never Land around the listener with ease. Directionality is accurate (albeit underutilized), pans are smooth, and the soundfield is notably immersive... again, though, for a DTV release. While several sequences stand out (the aforementioned battle chief among them), many of the quieter scenes in Pixie Hollow fail to compete, lacking the ambient prowess of more adventure-driven segments. Still, there isn't much in the way of disappointment at all. The Pirate Fairy almost sounds as impressive as it looks, and "almost" doesn't amount to anything that will dissuade anyone from enjoying Disney's AV presentation.
The Pirate Fairy Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Pirate Fairy Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Pirate Fairy aims high and almost pulls off everything it sets out to accomplish. It nails the Captain Hook sequences with surprising style and poise... it just tends to cram in a few too many pixie subplots in its attempts to merge the Tinker Bell series with the original Peter Pan (1953). Still, The Pirate Fairy flies circles around other direct-to-video franchises aimed at young girls -- Barbie and Monster High most of all -- and the Tinker Bell franchise continues to prove its mettle. Disney's Blu-ray release is even more terrific, with a near-perfect video presentation and an excellent DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track. It's a little light on extras, sure. Regardless, your daughters will be ecstatic when they get a hold of this one. Don't keep them waiting.
The Pirate Fairy: Other Editions
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