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When you’re six films into a successful franchise, there’s probably no need to tinker with the formula.
But while Disney’s Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast might not ever be accused of risk-taking, the new adventure does feel a shade or two darker than previous installments.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that Tink and company are now following a Harry Potter-type trajectory—their gossamer wings remain essentially unsullied.
Following in the heavier footsteps of last year’s well-received, The Pirate Fairy, however, it would appear Disneytoon Studios has realized that a decidedly more action-oriented tone extends the traditional Tinkerbell demo beyond that of young girls.
The thoroughly respectable CG adventure should kick up some serious pixie dust when it flies into theaters Friday for a nine-day stint ahead of its March 3 DVD landing.
While she’s again voiced by Mae Whitman, Peter Pan’s formerly flighty pal lets her fairy friend Fawn (Ginnifer Goodwin) run with this particular adventure.
Pixie Hollow’s resident animal whisperer, Fawn ends up butting heads with no-nonsense Nyx (Rosario Dawson), the leader of the scout fairies, over Fawn’s discovery of the sizable creature she names Gruff.
Sort of a bison-possum hybrid with glowing green eyes who turns up following a comet-sighting, the creature is believed to be the NeverBeast of legend, whom Nyx contends has returned with the predestined objective of obliterating their homeland.
That not-so-sprightly scenario sets the stage for a more ominous caper than may not have been anticipated by those accustomed to old school Tinker Bell, but director and co-writer Steve Loter (Kim Possible, Penguins of Madagascar) has some harder-hitting action in mind.
Underscoring the murkier mood are ambitious visuals that employ a monochromatic palette to effectively contrast Gruff’s rocky, lifeless lair with the vibrant rainbow colors of Pixie Hollow.
Even with Anjelica Huston again warmly providing the voice of Queen Clarion and Lucy Liu (Silvermist) and Megan Hilty (Rosetta) among those also returning to the fold, Legend of the NeverBeast appears more intent than ever in making it quite clear this ain’t your grandma’s Tinker Bell.
Production company: Disneytoon Studios
Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Mae Whitman, Anjelica Huston, Rosario Dawson, Lucy Liu, Raven-Symone, Megan Hilty
Director: Steve Loter
Screenwriters: Tom Rogers and Robert Schooley & Mark McCorkle and Kate Kondell
Producer: Michael Wigert
Executive producer: John Lasseter
Editor: Margaret Hou
Composer: Joel McNeely
Casting director: Jason Henkel
Rated G, 76 minutes
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