Secret of the Wings
What It Is
Tinker Bell (Mae Whitman) lives in the perfect place. In Tinkers’ Nook, the light is bright, the sunshine is warm, and she’s happy spending her time tinkering with her fellow fairy friends, as they make baskets. But still... at the beginning of Secret of the Wings, Tinker Bell has a sense that something’s missing. She’s adventurous and sprightly, yes, but she longs especially to visit another place. And not just any place, but the Winter Woods, located across a log bridge. Here, the summer animals go each wintertime, and their coats turn white and they burrow down for hibernation. And here, the baskets made by Tink and her friends are used to gather and dispense snowflakes, so that snow falls always in the Winter Woods.
With some library research, Tink learns that other fairies live in this cold place, and so she decides to make her way there, sneaking into one of the baskets, carried over the border from pleasant summer weather to the Winter Woods. While Tinker Bell prepares for her journey by making herself a warm jacket and boots, she’s surprised at the cold, which, she’s warned, will freeze and even break her wings beyond repair. She’s even more surprised to find that she has a very special reason for yearning to see the Winter Woods: she has a long lost (never known) sister living there, Periwinkle (Lucy Hale). Neither sister knows of the other’s existence until they meet, but they’re immediately connected: they share stories and secrets, they laugh together and fairies on either side, including Tink’s friends Silvermist (Lucy Liu) and Iridessa (Raven-Symoné) and Periwinkle’s friends Gliss (Grey DeLisle) and Spike (Debby Ryan), all love one another. The sisters hope never to be separated again.
Of course, there are issues. The sisters learn that neither can easily live in the other’s environment: Tink might freeze and Periwinkle might collapse in the heat. Both fairies are instructed by the leaders of their fairy groups — Lord Milori (Timothy Dalton), the Lord of Winter, and Queen Clarion (Anjelica Huston), the Queen of Pixie Hollow — not to cross over ever again. When they try to do so anyway, they run into trouble, something like a sudden climate change, as the Warm Woods begin to freeze, threatening to kill the giant, ancient Pixie Dust Dispensing Tree from freezing (Pixie Dust being magically crucial to flying). At last, the longtime separate groups of fairies collaborate, first to save the tree and, in the end, to find a way to live together.
Why It’s Fun
You think you know all about Tinker Bell: she’s Peter Pan’s best friend, after all. But here Tink has a fairy life apart from the Lost Boys and Peter and the Pirates, with her own friends and, most especially, with her sister. It’s this twist to the story — in the fourth film of Disney’s Tinker Bell series — that makes Secret of the Wings unusual. Where other movies designed for girls, with girly heroes, tend to reward good girl fairies with nice prince fairies, this one is all about the two sisters discovering each other and themselves. It’s a great story for the sisters. And it also offers a lesson for the adults, Milori and Clarion. Caught up for years in their own fear, owing to a secret past where they suffered the damage that weather can do, they can’t imagine that a new generation might have new ideas about how to manage what’s cold and what’s warm.
Even if fairies stories tend to be formulaic — fairy is happy, fairy gets in trouble, fairy gets out of trouble and learns a lesson — this one introduces the bold-ish concept of the sisters’ bond rather than the usual marriage plot.
The animation is brightly colored and the animals — rabbits and beavers and squirrels, as well as a big cat who provides transportation for Dewey (Jeff Bennett), the keeper of all fairy knowledge (as well as their historian) — are at once large and cuddly.
Who’s Going To Love It
Fans of Disney’s Tinker Bell series will likely appreciate the new turn taken by this one, as it offers a new location (the snowy Winter Woods) as well as a new set of fairies. Who knew!?
Parents might appreciate the worthy voice talent assembled here. Along with Dalton and Huston, Jane Horrocks is once again delightful as Fairy Mary.
Parents might also appreciate that fairies use libraries and read books, invent contraptions, and love and look after their animals.
What To Be Aware Of
Some imminent freezing makes for a tense moment or two.
A flashback reveals an injury to one of the fairies, and the sad story behind it.
A boy and girl fairy kiss at the end: chastely, of course.
7 out of 10
Tinker Bell: Secret of the Wings
Directors: Peggy Holmes, Bradley Raymond
Cast: Timothy Dalton, Anjelica Huston, Mae Whitman, Megan Hilty, Matt Lanter, Raven-Symoné, Lucy Liu, Lucy Hale
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
US General Release: October 23, 2012 (DVD)