I’m surprised that we don’t have a copy of PETER PAN here in the archives of Rock Father HQ. While it was released as a Diamond Edition Blu-ray last summer, I haven’t picked up a copy yet, and I should probably correct that before the film retreats into the Disney Vault once more. I still remember the first time that I saw the 1953 film – during a theatrical re-release in 1982. We’d gone to see it at the Park Forest Theater (then, a large, single-screen movie house that was a relic from 1950), and to me, the film seemed brand-new… and I probably thought that it was. It’s been years since I’ve seen it, though the little ones and I caught RETURN TO NEVER LAND not long ago. My girls haven’t seen where it all began, yet Never Land is a place that’s oft-visited, through the tales spun in JAKE AND THE NEVER LAND PIRATES, and the Disney Fairies realm. With the release of THE PIRATE FAIRY, everything comes together, as the film is both a sequel to the Tinker Bell films, and a prequel to PETER PAN.
I had one up on the kids, as I’d already seen THE PIRATE FAIRY prior to Disney sending us a review copy of the Blu-ray. You see, last month, I sat in the screening room at DisneyToon Studios, a guest of Mickey and the gang, watching a preview showing with a live introduction and post-film discussion with director Peggy Holmes and producer Jenni Magee-Cook (more on that in a future Special Feature here on the site). Here we are six weeks later, and my girls have finally seen it.
It’s one of the worst-kept secrets of recent memory, but I’ll give you the obligatory [SPOILER ALERT] right here, even though what I’m about to tell you is not only in the official boilerplate for THE PIRATE FAIRY, but it’s also printed right on the Blu-ray case: Tom Hiddleston, Loki himself from THOR and THE AVENGERS, is the voice of the young Captain Hook. Here, he’s presented as a cabin boy named James, but it’s James Hook – and if you can keep your kids from knowing that going into the film, there’s a reveal there – an “a-ha!” moment that’s really cool, and a lot of fun if you don’t see it coming. But how we get to the ‘Cap is where the real story lies…
Back in Pixie Hollow, we meet Zarina, (voiced by MAD MEN‘s Christina Hendricks), a dust-keeper fairy that has a serious obsession with the power of Blue Pixie Dust. After engaging in some highly-unauthorized alchemy (much to the surprise of Tinker Bell, and the dismay of Fairy Gary), Zarina finds her troubles growing, and soon embarks on a self-imposed exile from her friends and home. Time passes, and Zarina returns to Pixie Hollow for some of the valuable Dust after partnering with a band of pirates from Skull Rock, only to be followed into Never Land by Tinker Bell and friends (after their powers get swapped), who end up going head-to-head with this pirate gang on a “Frigate that Flies” and meeting an adorable baby crocodile along the way.
In the end, there’s a message of right and wrong, and also a sisterhood of sorts, both important to my own children as they approach the age of needing to know that it’s ok to make mistakes, and that even some really bad ones will mostly be forgiven.
Overall, it’s a lot of fun and surprisingly detailed, while scoring points with me for a musical number aboard Hook’s ship, and some additional songs by Natasha Bedingfield worked into the mix.
The Bonus Features:
Surprisingly, the bonus features here are more satisfying than the ones included on that other big animated Disney release this month, FROZEN (review here). SECOND STAR TO THE RIGHT: THE LEGACY OF NEVER LAND explores the way that history helped shape and inspire the story and look of the film, while numerous deleted scenes (in a rough animatic form) get a bit of discussion from Holmes and Magee-Cook. The lovable “Crocky” gets a mini-featurette about his full-grown, real-life counterparts, while Hiddleston steps up to the mic for an inside look at the recording of his Pirate-tastic mid-movie tune, “The Frigate That Flies.” Finally, kids can fine-tune their singing chops with a trio of Sing-Along Songs – enhanced with on-screen lyrics.
THE PIRATE FAIRY is a film that kids of all ages – girls and boys alike – should find enjoyable. Keeping connected to the Disney Fairies titles that my girls enjoy, while solidifying it’s roots in Disney past and contemporary fare like JAKE make this a multi-faceted movie that should please a wide audience, and probably could’ve gone theatrical (it did get a limited run in Los Angeles, plus additional one-off screenings elsewhere). Next up? LEGEND OF THE NEVERBEAST is scheduled for Spring 2015, and a teaser is included on this disc.
The Rock Father Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Disney’s THE PIRATE FAIRY is out on Blu-ray and DVD on April 1. Order it, and other great titles via (my affiliate) Amazon: