If you’d have asked me six years ago what my knowledge of the Disney Fairies was, I would’ve said “zero.” Fast-forward to 2015, and two daughters and a rekindled Disney love later, I’d say “Tinker Bell, Silvermist, Iridessa, Zarina, Queen Clarion, Periwinkle, Fawn, Fairy Mary, Fairy Gary – who do you want to know about?” Truth is, I’ve seen all of the Disney Fairies movies now, and not just in a casual manner, either. I like them a lot, and they’ve gotten increasingly better over the years, moving far beyond some simple stories set in the world of Pixie Hollow long before the timeline explored in the 1953 classic, PETER PAN. Last year, I found myself in a screening room at DisneyToon Studios to catch an advance screening of 2014’s THE PIRATE FAIRY (coverage here), and this year I was fortunate enough to be invited back to check out TINKER BELL AND THE LEGEND OF THE NEVERBEAST, filmmaker Steve Loter‘s follow-up, which was actually 4 ½ years in-the-making. In the past, I’ve often given my wife a hard time about crying during movies… but… NEVERBEAST got me misty-eyed. It’s a touching story, and one that continues the tradition of “getting better.”
While Tink may have her name in the title, THE LEGEND OF THE NEVERBEAST is Fawn’s movie – and as such, the Animal Fairy is voiced this time around by Ginnifer Goodwin (ONCE UPON A TIME, BIG LOVE) as she takes center stage for an adventure unlike any other for the Fairies and their friends.
With a story based on Loter’s daughter and her real-life love of large animals, we join Fawn as she discovers a beast like no other in the days following the passing of a mysterious green comet over Pixie Hollow. Where some find fear, Fawn finds curiosity and compassion for the Neverbeast, whom she names “Gruff” thanks to his sound and demeanor. “Fear” is what drives the Scout Fairies (new to this film, a crew of “action heroes” that add a whole new element to the Disney Fairies realm) led by Nyx (voiced by Rosario Dawson) in their mission to “protect” their friends from the unknown – and ancient scripture depicting the Neverbeast hardly helps matters when it’s misinterpreted to mean the exact opposite of its intention.
Nyx’s caution isn’t exactly misguided, as Fawn is known to push the boundaries of danger and doing good in the past – often letting her big heart guide her into situations like caring for a hawk with a broken wing. A noble gesture, for sure – but keep in mind, hawk’s are known to have an appetite for fairies.
The message here is that you shouldn’t take things at face value, and that being quick to judge can often have dire consequences… especially when the “beast” you thought was coming to destroy you was actually there to protect you. Look deeply and there’s probably more layers and metaphor here than the filmmakers even intended (interpretation of ancient books; how we view those who are different; jumping to conclusions; unfairly judging), but the core story is about having an open heart, and the relationship between a five-inch fairy and her big, gruff friend.
Yes, I needed to grab a Kleenex on the way out of the theater, but fear not – I don’t think I’m spoiling anything for you by assuring you that the Neverbeast does not die. In fact, he’ll be around to guard Pixie Hollow for many years to come… but you’ll have to explore THE LEGEND OF THE NEVERBEAST for yourself to learn the “how” and the “why.”
Disney’s TINKER BELL AND THE LEGEND OF THE NEVERBEAST is available on Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere now.