Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast is the newest entry into the popular Disney Fairies franchise. It is the sixth full-length animated film, and definitely my favorite of all. Make no mistake here – Tinker Bell is not the star of this movie: Fawn takes that honor, with a majority of the screen time with a doglike creature named Gruff (also known as the NeverBeast) who will steal the heart of every viewer.
Fawn (Ginnifer Goodwin) is the Animal-talent fairy, who speaks most animal languages and is a caretaker to them. Unfortunately, she also tends to bring animals home to Pixie Hollow that could harm fairies, such as a young hawk. After being admonished several times by Scout Fairy Nyx (Rosario Dawson), Fawn still finds herself enchanted by an animal that she can’t figure out. She names it Gruff, and proceeds to try to ascertain just what type of animal Gruff is. She and Gruff become close, but she doesn’t yet understand why this creature is quickly building unusual, tall structures.
Nyx finds out that there is something foreboding about Gruff from an old book, and worries that Pixie Hollow will soon be destroyed. Tinker Bell (Mae Whitman) and Fawn – along with the rest of the fairies – must find a way to save Pixie Hollow before it is too late. Fawn puts herself at risk in order to help save Pixie Hollow, after Tinker Bell puts her mind to rest about Gruff’s intentions.
The end scene is a tearjerker, at least it was for me. It will possibly also bring questions from young children who don’t understand the concept of losing someone. While nobody dies, it is a forever loss and should be watched for the first time together with young children. In fact, there are several scenes that will be darker than usual for Tinker Bell movie fans – including what seems to be the death of a fairy. That particular scene wasn’t as drawn out and dark for me, many Disny films bring characters to the brink before True Love’s Kiss or any other way that characters are brought back. But the end scene is very sad – beautiful and touching as well, but sad, and will likely inspire discussions. The character of Gruff – and what happens with Gruff through the final moments – is what kept me captivated. I enjoyed this film more than any other of the Tinker Bell movies. It is deeper and more serious, but still includes a lot of laughs too.
Segments of Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast reminded me of a variety of films; from the beginning that had a The Nightmare Before Christmas feel to Nyx with a Lord of the Rings look, to the ending which had a bit of a vibe of The Lion King. But it all worked together as a terrific film in the Tinker Bell series. I don’t think that anything has been announced for further films, but I hope Disney will continue the franchise.
It is always interesting to see which fairies are included in the film – why no Periwinkle? She should have been here in the Winter Woods.
The bonus features surprised me. A lot of Disney animated films have been very weak on bonus features, but Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast have several good ones. The bonus feature called “5 Essentials to Getting Gruff” and “My Dad’s Movie: The True Story of the NeverBeast” are my favorites. We learn the inspiration for Gruff, and Director Steve Loter’s adorable daughter Calista tells why she isn’t afraid of animals. She has a very Fawn-like approach to them.
Mousesteps Grade for Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast: B+