out of Five
Running time: 75
This is a solid entry in the Tinker Bell franchise that will play well to its target audience of pre-teen girls and won't feel like too much of a chore for dragged-along adults, thanks to lively, colourful animation, engaging themes and strong work from a superb voice cast.
What's it all about?
Directed by Peggy Holmes, Tinker Bell and the Secret of the Wings is the fourth film in Disney's series of animated Tinker Bell movies, receiving a theatrical release after the big screen success of Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue in 2010. The film begins with ever-inquisitive Tink (Mae Whitman, the voice of Tinker Bell in all four films) venturing into the forbidden Winter Woods, where the winter fairies live.
Tink quickly bonds with frost fairy Periwinkle (Lucy Hale) and when the pair discover that their wing patterns are identical, they realise that they are sisters. Pixie Hollow's Queen Clarion (Anjelica Huston) and Winter Woods leader Lord Milori (Timothy Dalton) are not best pleased that the pair have met and forbid them to see each other again, but when a terrible accident unleashes a winter freeze that threatens the existence of the Pixie Dust Tree, the winter fairies and the warm weather fairies have to work together to save the day.
The voice performances are excellent: Whitman is sparky and sweet as Tink (there's no trace of the capricious, jealousy-prone character from the original Peter Pan movie) and there's strong support from Lucy Hale as Periwinkle as well as series regulars Lucy Liu, Raven-Symoné, Pamela Adlon and Jane Horrocks as Silvermist, Indessa, Vidia and Fairy Mary, respectively.
The animation is lively and colourful throughout, though the 3D is largely unnecessary: what's the point in having a 3D movie about fairies if you don't include several scenes with the fairies hovering in front of your face? On top of that, as with the previous movies, Tinker Bell makes an excellent role model (there's no annoying love interest nonsense, any hints of that are left to the other fairies) and the script gently pushes some engaging, family-friendly themes, such as the importance of sisterhood and environmental awareness.
The only real problem with the film is that there's relatively little in the way of humour, apart from a few half-hearted side gags, while the fourth film also lacks the sense of invention that was present in the previous movie.
Tinker Bell and the Secret of the Wings is a nicely animated family adventure that will appeal to its target audience of pre-teen girls and won't wear out its welcome with dragged-along adults, not least because of its commendably short 75 minute running time. Take note, Peter Jackson.
Tinker Bell And The Secret Of The Wings 3D (U)