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Tinker Bell • Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure • Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue • Secret of the Wings

Secret of the Wings: Flitterrific Fairies Double Pack Review
(Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + Blu-ray 3D + Bonus Adventure)

Secret of the Wings: Flitterrific Fairies Double Pack cover art - click to buy 4-disc Blu-ray 3D combo pack from Amazon.com Secret of the Wings
Movie, Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray & DVD Details

Directors: Peggy Holmes; Bobs Gannaway (co-director) / Writers: Bobs Gannaway, Peggy Holmes, Ryan Rowe, Tom Rogers (screenplay); Klay Hall, Thomas Hart, Jeffrey M. Howard (additional story material)

Voice Cast: Mae Whitman (Tinker Bell), Lucy Hale (Periwinkle), Timothy Dalton (Lord Milori), Jeff Bennett (Dewey The Keeper), Lucy Liu (Silvermist), Raven-Symonι (Iridessa), Megan Hilty (Rosetta), Pamela Adlon (Vidia), Angela Bartys (Fawn), Matt Lanter (Sled), Debby Ryan (Spike), Grey DeLisle (Gliss), Rob Paulsen (Bobble), Jeff Bennett (Clank), Jane Horrocks (Fairy Mary), Jodi Benson (Healing Fairy), Kari Wahlgren (Receptionist), Thomas Lennon (Reading Fairy), Ben Diskin (Glacier Fairy), Jesse McCartney (Terence), Kathy Najimy (Minister of Summer), John DiMaggio (Minister of Autumn), Steve Valentine (Minister of Spring), Dee Bradley Baker (Additional Voices), Anjelica Huston (Queen Clarion)

Songs: Sydney Sierota - "We'll Be There", McClain Sisters - "The Great Divide"

Running Time: 75 Minutes / Rating: G

1.78:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-rays: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English); DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English); Both: Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish; DVD Closed Captioned; Some Extras Subtitled
Release Date: October 23, 2012 / Suggested Retail Price: $49.99
Four single-sided discs (2 BD-50s, 1 DVD-9, and 1 DVD-5 DVD-ROM)
Blue Keepcase in Embossed, Lenticular Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as DVD + Blu-ray Combo ($39.99 SRP), standalone DVD ($29.99 SRP), and Amazon Instant Video

Buy Secret of the Wings from Amazon.com: Blu-ray 3D Combo • DVD + Blu-ray • DVD • Instant Video

It has been 25 months since Tinker Bell and the Disney Fairies released anything new to DVD and Blu-ray. Perhaps partly to make up for that long wait in what was conceived as an annual direct-to-video line, this week's debut of Secret of the Wings includes two touches new to the series. Firstly, it is presented in Blu-ray 3D.
Secondly, it is joined by a bonus entry to the series in last fall's half-hour Disney Channel TV special Pixie Hollow Games. Those two touches help to explain why Secret is being offered in a four-disc set called a "Flitterrific Fairies Double Pack" consisting of Blu-ray, DVD, digital copy, Blu-ray 3D, and "bonus adventure." That's about as high a disc count and list price ($49.99 SRP) you'll find a single movie being offered these days in ordinary packaging.

Secret of the Wings, once advertised as Tinker Bell and the Mysterious Winter Woods, is the fourth movie in what was planned as a series of four films centering on the four seasons of the year. This is not yet goodbye, however; a fifth film, reportedly titled Quest for the Queen, has been scheduled for spring 2014 release and who knows if that will truly end the one thriving series the once very productive DisneyToon Studios currently has?

Tinker Bell considers venturing into the snowy Winter Woods. Sneaking a snowflake basket ride, Tinker Bell takes in the Winter Woods sights in her newly-designed warm outfit.

Secret wastes no time before establishing some new mythos. Tink (voiced, as usual, by Mae Whitman) and her fellow tinker fairies have been making snowflake baskets, which a parliament of owls will then deliver to the Winter Woods. The Woods border Pixie Hollow in a striking way. On one side, glistening snow falls as far as the eye can see. On the other, Pixie Hollow is full of autumn color. So-called "warm fairies" like Tink are strictly forbidden from crossing this line and entering the other world as color-changing animals can. Tink's curiosity gets the best of her, though, and when she does make the jump into the Winter Woods, her wings begin to sparkle and light up.

Intrigued by that phenomenon, but unable to learn more because a bookworm has chewed up a relevant page from the Book Nook's only copy of Wingology, Tink tries to find answers from its author, "The Keeper", who lives in the Winter Woods. Adorned in a merchandisable warmer newly-designed outfit, Tink mischievously sneaks a flight over to the Winter Woods inside a snowflake basket carried by an inexperienced owl. In the snowy white wonderland, she meets The Keeper (whose friends call him Dewey). More importantly, she also meets Periwinkle (voiced by Lucy Hale), whose own identical wings also begin sparkling in Tink's proximity. Turns out that these two are sisters and kind of twins, having been born out of the same baby's laugh.

Holding everything in common, Tink and Periwinkle quickly become best friends and they plan to spend one day of fun together before the first moonlight. Alas, the rules set forth by Pixie Hollow's Queen Clarion (Anjelica Huston) and the Winter Woods' Lord Milori (Timothy Dalton) are in place for a reason. Warm and cold fairy fraternizing has some dire consequences not only for the two friends but for all of Pixie Hollow, as an icy chill threatens to eradicate the Hollow as we know it.

Tinker Bell finds a sister, a twin, and a new best friend in Periwinkle, whose identical wings glow just like her own.

Secret of the Wings does a good job of establishing new environments and characters. It also succeeds at coming up with a story to involve them. Its destination, though, is both overdramatic and underwhelming, relying heavily on effects animation that depicts the climate change threatening Pixie Hollow.
The climax reminds you that the primary audience for this franchise is young girls. That's easy to forget because the movie is technically polished, reasonably mature, and accessible for older and male viewers.

Remove the iconic Tinker Bell and forget you've met some of her fellow fairies and this wouldn't be all that inconceivable as a respectable theatrical effort from one of the animation heavyweights like Pixar, whose chief creative officer John Lasseter takes his usual executive producer credit. As is, no one will mistake Secret for being state-of-the-art filmmaking and storytelling, but it is a great deal closer to those lofty heights than it has to be. Sure, it seems slight when held to the standards of a tradition as grand as that of Walt Disney Animation Studios. But it is much more sophisticated, creative, and entertaining than the typical past DisneyToon direct-to-video sequel. And the off-putting trailers alone for the perhaps most direct competition, Mattel's Universal-distributed biannual Barbie movies, suggest that praise is in order for Disney imbuing its star kid vid franchise with more artistry than commercial success requires.

So, while Secret of the Wings loses luster with a conventional action climax whose stakes are realistically non-existent, it at least managed to maintain this adult critic's attention and admiration for much of its runtime.

That runtime is amusingly padded to 75 minutes with a long, slow end credits scroll. There is an obvious reason for that and it seems to be the same one behind Secret's one-week run at the El Capitan theater. Both qualify the film to compete in the Best Animated Feature category at the Academy Awards and Golden Globes. Now, no one is foolish enough to think that this film, with its true direct-to-video status plain for all to see, has a shot at an Oscar or a Globe. But Disney has three other 2012 films that have a great shot at being nominated (Pixar's Brave, Tim Burton's Frankenweenie, and the upcoming Wreck-It Ralph), especially in a category of five nominees, which requires the release of a certain minimum number of eligible animated films. While animation prospers, the number of qualifying films has never greatly exceeded the 12-16 needed to give us a potential five-nominee Oscar and Globe Animated Feature category. Secret adds an easily-defeated candidate to the competition pool and by doing so aids every other cartoon's shot at getting the boost of a major award nomination.

Though granted 3D release, Secret of the Wings' modest gains in that format seem comparable to other Disney and Pixar films thus released. In other words, computer animation is already three-dimensional and this treatment only emphasizes the space and depth. There doesn't appear to be in-your-face gimmickry invented for this, as the series has dabbled with eye-catching visuals even before the enhancement.

Fiona the lynx returns Tinker Bell back to Pixie Hollow after a fun but chilly day in Winter Woods. With a Clink and Bobble contraption throwing snow on Periwinkle to keep her cold, Tinker Bell introduces her sister to Vidia and other Pixie Hollow fairies.

VIDEO and AUDIO

There is unsurprisingly little to say about the Blu-ray's picture and sound quality. It is all it can be within the high limits of 1080p technology. The flawless digital transfer is vibrant and sharp. It even manages to get through busy visuals with a bare minimum of difficulty. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio is also delightful, brimming with life, activity, and directionality. The obligatory montage songs are a bit much, but the film's sound design is on par with much more expensive cartoons. My Blu-ray disc randomly froze in a few places, but I suspect that this was a problem specific to my review copy and not all.

The McClain sisters take Secret of the Wings' settings to heart in their music video for "The Great Divide." Chloe helps Rosetta discover the thrills of teamwork and getting dirty in the bonus TV special "Pixie Hollow Games."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Not long ago, a 4-disc set promised to keep you glued to your couch for an entire weekend. Today, such a collection can arrive with just a half-hour of bonus features without anyone blinking an eye. Of course, three of the discs here are bound to be of secondary use to you, presenting the film in alternate formats. The contents of both the standard Blu-ray and DVD are identical,
with the former presenting them all in high definition.

First up is a music video for the McClain Sisters' contribution to Secret of the Wings, "The Great Divide" (3:03). The three teenaged girls sing in a lush forest, an autumnal town, and snowy woods to pay homage to the film, which is liberally excerpted.

Next and by far most substantial is Pixie Hollow Games (22:34), the aforementioned bonus half-hour television special that premiered on Disney Channel on November 19, 2011. Spunky newbie Chloe (voiced by Brenda Song) is excited to represent the underdog garden fairies in the annual Pixie Hollow Games. Dirt-fearing Rosetta (Megan Hilty, taking the role over from Kristin Chenoweth seemingly for good) reluctantly becomes her partner in the elaborate, heretofore unmentioned competition. With Clank and Bobble supplying color commentary from high above, the Games' events include "leapfrogging", dragonfly water skiing, and a flying tea cup race. Substantial for a bonus feature and a half-hour of Disney Channel airtime (it retains the series' veteran creative talent and, aside from Chenoweth, voice cast) but not substantial enough to sell on its own, this short is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French) and Dolby Surround 2.0 (Spanish) sound.

Zendaya Coleman is cool in school in her drumline-accompanied "Dig Down Deeper" music video. Is this Pixie Preview "Fright Light" our first look at a Disney Fairies Halloween special? Maybe.

Then we come to the music video for "Dig Down Deeper" (3:08), Zendaya's song from Pixie Hollow Games. The "Shake It Up" star rocks out a high school, from performing in a stairwell accompanied by a drumline to cheering on her classmates in track and field athletics, with the occasional movie clip sprinkled in.

"Pixie Preview: Fright Light" treats us to a Halloweeny minute-long clip from... it's not really clear. Something from the Disney Fairies franchise, obviously, but perhaps not the next full movie.

Rounding out the discs are the usual digital copy promo and, exclusive to Blu-ray, a useless "Info" disclaimer.

The announced deleted scenes with filmmaker introductions have oddly not made the final product. I can't see Disney holding these back to bolster a future release of this film or a complete franchise collection, so who knows what happened there.
Disney Tabletop Christmas Tree: The Wonderful World Of Disney Disney Tinker Bell Christmas Figurine: Oh Christmas Tree
On the upside, the original information also indicated that Pixie Hollow Games would be a Blu-ray exclusive, which it thankfully is not. Lamely, though, the special is seemingly left off the single-disc DVD, meaning Disney authored a diluted featherweight DVD just to add value to the combo packs.

The Blu-ray and FastPlay-enhanced DVD open with a Peter Pan: Diamond Edition promo, a sneak peek of the thus-untitled next Tinker Bell movie (in which powers are swapped!), and Wreck-It Ralph's trailer. The "Sneak Peeks" listing repeats those, followed by ads for Disney Movie Rewards, Disney Parks, "Sofia the First", Brave, Cinderella II & III, Finding Nemo, and Planes.

Otherwise lacking bonus features, the Blu-ray 3D holds a Monsters University teaser and trailers for Wreck-It Ralph and Planes. The digital copy DVD-ROM presents the movie in two Windows Media and one iTunes files.

The tasteful menu shows us the Pixie Hollow/Winter Woods border with contrasting environmental animation, occasionally moving to show characters jumping over.

The four discs are stacked in pairs on opposite sides of a standard-sized Blu-ray case, which is topped by an impressive lenticular-faced embossed sturdy cardboard slipcover. Inside, you'll find a booklet of ads and a Disney Movie Rewards booklet, which with this purchase will get you a Tinker Bell charm for $2.85 shipping and processing.

Tinker Bell and Periwinkle look on as an icy chill threatens to destroy Pixie Hollow.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Secret of the Wings falls in line with Tinker Bell's first three films, offering entertainment slightly beneath theatrical animation standards and clearly above most direct-to-video fare. It's pretty cool that this franchise is not the Peter Pan-tainting mass-produced schlock that hardcore Disney animation fans feared. While that doesn't mean we need to get a new one of these every year, the series has not yet run out of steam in its fourth outing.

Secret's four-disc combo pack looks pretty heavy duty with its bold, artistic packaging, but even with preorder and release week discounts this is a more steeply priced purchase than it should be. While the two-disc combo pack should suffice for most households, know that it comes exclusively in DVD packaging, if that bothers you. Meanwhile, the single-disc DVD that might have been a best bet for its price drops the significant Pixie Hollow Games TV special.

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Reviewed October 22, 2012.



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