GeekDad Review: ‘Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast’

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Image: Disney
Image: Disney

The Disney Fairies are a big hit at my house. Ever since we introduced my daughter to them with the original Tinker Bell movie back in 2008, each subsequent offering has been promptly watched … many, many times. Since that first movie, we’ve watched Tink and her gang help a father and his daughter reunite, save Pixie Hollow, compete in Fairy Olympics, and find Tinker Bell’s lost sister. Then, with last year’s The Pirate Fairy there came an–ahem–sea change. Tinker Bell wasn’t even in the title of the movie! The focus was much more on the development of Zarina, the titular Pirate Fairy, rather than our plucky heroine.

That trend continues with this year’s offering: Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast. While Tinker Bell is back in the title, she’s definitely not the focus. Luckily, instead of developing a brand new character (only to drop her in the next film), Neverbeast puts the spotlight squarely on one of the original Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust gang: Fawn (and no, your ears aren’t deceiving you, that’s Ginnifer Goodwin voicing her this time around). Someone at Disney was paying attention, because if there’s anything my daughter loves more than the Fairies in these movies, it’s the baby animals to which Fawn and her Animal Talent friends tend. Right off the bat (spoiler, there are no bats), we get a meadow full of them, as Fawn shows off what she’s best at.

Image: Disney
Image: Disney

Unfortunately, Fawn is also good at getting distracted by her desire to help animals first and think about the consequences later. This brings her into early conflict with the leader of the Scout Fairies, Nyx. Voiced confidently by Rosario Dawson, she’s the Vidia to Fawn’s Tink. The Scout Fairies are trained enforcers, working together and using weapons and squad tactics to take down and turn back threats to Neverland. Think of them as the thin, glittery-gold line between the other talent fairies and that which would like to eat them for snacks. My daughter flat-out loved them. She was marching around imitating their poses before the final credits even rolled. Nyx and her squad provide a much different vibe for Neverbeast. Nyx herself is a more nuanced antagonist for the Fairy-verse; she believes that she has to make hard, often un-fairylike, decisions to keep her people safe. Even more so, she sees Fawn’s pie-eyed world view as dangerous. While Fawn sees Nyx as close-minded.

Image: Disney
Image: Disney

So it’s no surprise when the Neverbeast makes his appearance, that the two fairies come to very different conclusions. Fawn is at first fascinated by him, then quickly falls for the single-minded, somewhat scary-looking creature, even going so far as to give him a name, Gruff. Nyx, however, sees Gruff as an unknown threat that must be catalogued and stopped. The upside to that is we get a hysterical research sequence with Nyx and Scribble (the bookish fairy introduced back in Secret of the Wings) in which Scribble attempts some rather awkward flirting.

To say much more about the plot would spoil it; but suffice to say, if you watched the clip we ran last week with director Steve Loter, you won’t be surprised to find out that overcoming your first impressions and accepting that which you might find scary is a large part of the story. What’s surprising is how much nuance goes into delivering this point. There are misunderstandings, betrayals, and a selfless sacrifice that comes straight out of the first Avengers movie. Despite how easy it would be to slap the Disney Fairies stamp on the packaging and walk away, Loter and his crew have gone the extra mile to make a movie that doesn’t dumb things down for the intended audience. Heck, we even get insight into fairy mortality (be ready for questions)!

As always, the animation is gorgeous (and gets better with every iteration). The music, expertly done by KT Tunstall, provides a perfect backdrop. I do wish some of the additional characters, Bobble, Clank, Fairy Mary, or Periwinkle (I mean, c’mon, Tink goes to the Winter Woods and everything!) had made appearances; but that’s a minor quibble. Those are mainly players in Tinker Bell’s story and, start to finish, Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast is Fawn’s show. Full of action, humor, and emotion (if you’ve ever had to say goodbye to a family pet, I challenge you to remain dry-eyed for the final scenes), Disney Studios has another Fairy hit on their hands. Even better, I won’t mind having to rewatch it one bit.

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31 thoughts on “GeekDad Review: ‘Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast’

        1. I didn’t! It looks like it got a pretty limited release, though. It’s hard to track down a place you can actually buy/watch it now. It appears it was a UK exclusive for a while, so that might explain it. Thanks for the tip!

  1. I was a little disappointed they gussied up Fawn a good deal. Lipstick, a dress, bigger hair; I rather liked the more tomboy member of the Tink crew. (And the Disney Fawn doll looks more like Bratz, scary!)

    1. My kids did notice the new dress; but not the rest. At least they kept her attitude. My daughter has had a notebook in her hand all week trying to study our house cat (ala Fawn and Gruff).

      1. I’m not one of those crazy moms who don’t want their daughters to pretend their princesses, but in my opinion, Disney has sort of pushed that sensual look. The Princess series, all the princess have be blinged out with jewels and sparkles while taking almost seductive postures. And the whole redesign of Merida a year or so ago, yikes! So I find Fawn’s new look a little disheartening. Of course, my baby doesn’t notice this stuff, she loves all the Tink movies. It’s just a personal observation.

    2. Yes, we felt the same way. After 6 movies, why change her look. We didn’t like Ginnifer as the new voice either. Seemed a bit odd to have a different voice.

      1. I agree, I despise her new look. She is no longer the tomboy adventurer, she basically turned into zarina with a different hairstyle and clothes. Aside from the boots her look is atrocious. All that aside though, They messed up her face, bigger eyes and a rounder face, What gives?!

  2. Hey I wanted to say thanks for writing this review. I looked through a few reviews and found them very pretentious; needlessly filling space with large vocabulary, rather than touching on the heart of the movie. Furthermore it’s nice to see someone mentioning their child (the intended audience) and what effect it has on them! I am curious on your thoughts about the ending on a sad note. All the other movies end on an upbeat, but this one truly made every member of my family cry. I didn’t realize until your blog why… it really did remind me of saying goodbye to my pet growing up. Good insight!

  3. We really did not like how sad it was. Probably because we have suffered many losses in my daughters 8 years of life. So we were not expecting such sadness. I wish they could have made a different ending. But it was a very loving ending.

      1. Yes but hibernation for 100 years until the next meteor comes and awakens him, fawn will never see him again.

        1. Someone said one of the movies established that fairys never die. Is that correct?

          I just don’t like the people are acting like he died, because it isn’t true. That’s all.

          1. Despite Gruff not passing, the idea he will be gone for a thousand years is still a hard loss to deal with. We dont know [at least not that Im aware of] that Fawn will even still be alive in that long. Besides, she says herself “this is the last time I’ll see you”. Not “see you when you wake up”, so its safe to assume Fawn will be dead by then.

  4. this movie has a very different feel than the others and is much scarier for the little ones. The tone is darker and we spent fast forwarding almost the entire movie for my 2.5 year old. I personally really miss the original fawn (drawing and voice). She looks so different I didn’t even realize that was supposed to be Fawn

    1. My daughter is also 2.5 And she loved it! She initially she’d away from Gruff but she snuggled into me and kept watching and realized that he was actually very kind and gentle. She now calls him cute. Gruff taught her that just because someone may look different or scary doesn’t mean they are. We’ve watched this movie about 6 times now and I’m sure it will be watched more lol.

  5. The only other movie that’s ever made me cry was Bridge to Terabithia..and that was only a small tear. This is the first movie ever to make me have to run from the TV to get the tissue box cause I was bawling my eyes out in the final scene. Not even Titanic has done this to me!!! But it was a great plot. I adore tinkerbell, even though I’m 23 I’m glad my little sister got me into these movies.

  6. My daughter (6) is hysterically crying, continuously asking me why the never beast has to be asleep for 1000 yrs and the fairies can’t see him again. Why did they make the ending so sad?? Will gruff come back??

  7. I love this movie, and yeah it left all of us (adults and kids) in the house in tears and weeping. Our dog that we love very much is 10, so his mortality was in the forefront of the minds of the adults in the house (so the dog got tons of attention for the rest of the week). It is a freakin SAD ending, but it’s also a wonderful metaphor for the parting of loved ones.
    For those dealing with kids who are bereft with grief over the movie, remind them that Fawn probably visits Gruff while he sleeps every day and most likely the rest of the faeries do to to (maybe even read him stories while he sleeps). Another excellent metaphor.

  8. My youngest sister who is 25 loves ALL the Tinkerbell movies and she owns them all, Me personally I love the supporting cast of tink’s friends, Fawn being my favorite. I kinda feel like the ‘girly’ look was not really needed, but at the same time I like the boots, skrit, and hair. I loved this movie so much the my sister bought two copy one for herself and one for me. We both cryed are eyes out at the ending because we couldn’t help but think about our family’s first cat Tabby who we had to put to sleep in 2012 2.5 weeks shy of her 10th birthday(born march 2002) due to Cancer of the gums, she also had hyper-tyroidisum. Although she was my cat, she was also the first furry pet are family had, and we got her the end of my senior yr of HS. The choice of voice change made me happy since Gennie Goldwen aka Snow White/Mary Margert from Once was going to been the voice of my fav Never fairie. Qver all I thought the movie was great and a good way to explain loos to the young ones, since sleep/hibertion is just like death only with out the waking up.

  9. my question is dose any one know if there will be a second one ??? because they can’t just end the movie, like the……!!!

    1. I think the Tinkerbell wiki said there aren’t any plans for new movies. Shame they had to end the series on a subpar movie but hard to keep the magic going. The first 3 or so were so good.

      1. There is a movie in the works for this year. Rumor is it’s focused on Zarina and the pirates again (so they can bring Hiddleston’s James Hook back). ‘Pirate Fairy’ was one of our least favorite (and one of the cruelest of the series – if fairies are literally born to do one type of job only, how profound a punishment is it when a fairy’s job is taken away, her entire reason for existing?). I did like Zarina, though – so hopefully I’ll be pleasantly surprised this time!

        1. Glad to hear there’s more in the works. I agree, Pirate fairy was the beginning of the end for me. I like the idea of slowly moving toward meeting hook, Peter pan and stuff but not sure if it will be as good as the first 3 movies (and the neverbeast movie doesn’t move the franchise along). Not sure which direction they’re headed.

  10. To me too, the ending of the movie was really sad 🙁 Especialy when you she the neverbeast close it’s eyes and Fawn in it’s eyes :/

    I’m not sure what to think of the rumors on the retun of Hook. There was never an explanation why Tinkerbell took care of Peter (especially why she stayed with him in Neverland or how she got there in the 1st place). Maybe the next movies will focus on that. I’d love to see her return to Pixie Hollow though – I don’t remember a word on what happend to Tinkerbell. In the original book there’s a hint, that she died..

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