Blu-ray Review: Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast

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I wonder if actress Mae Whitman realized back in 2008 what a steady job voicing Tinker Bell would turn out to be. Seven movies (and eight years) later, Whitman is back as the voice of everyone’s favorite fairy in Disney’s digitally-animated Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast, available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, Digital HD, and Disney Movie Anywhere March 3, 2015. Though the film, directed by Steve Loter, is a direct-to-video title in the U.S., it was released in theaters internationally in December, 2014. NeverBeast presents a fairly well-worn tale about a misunderstood “monster” who turns out to have a gentle soul, but (like the previous films in the Tinker Bell series) it will hold kids’ attention for its brisk 76-minute runtime.

Actually, Tinker Bell is very much a supporting character in NeverBeast. Truthfully, this is animal fairy Fawn’s (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin, of ABC’s Once Upon a Time) story. She’s such a softie for animals she risks the well-being of all the fairies by bringing a wounded hawk to Pixie Hollow. Those birds apparently develop an inherent taste for fairies when they’re mature, but are safe as youngsters. At any rate, it establishes Fawn as a maverick willing to do pretty much anything to care for animals. When a creature previously known only in legend is discovered near their home, the scout fairies determine to keep it far away from Pixie Hollow.

AnimalFairyWorld_JP_061913elnote (380x232).jpgA predictable story unfolds as the so-called NeverBeast displays seemingly dangerous behavior, despite Fawn’s firm belief that he can be trusted. The giant, furry beast himself (Fawn nicknames him Gruff) will surely delight young viewers. He’s sort of like an oversized Stitch, with the mood swings to match. DisneyToon Studios delivers inventive animation that, while never near the A-level of Disney’s theatrical releases, is suitably colorful and detailed. The Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira joins the voice cast as new character Fury, but only for the U.S. release (former Spice Girl Mel B did the honors for the U.K. release). Also among the well-known voice actors is Rosario Dawson as scout fairy Nyx. KT Tunstall contributes the bouncy pop tune “Strange Sight.”

Rosario as Nyx (380x304).jpgDisney’s high definition transfer is dazzling, while the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack offers impressive audio that goes far beyond what one might expect of a DTV title. There are several special features, including the brief featurettes “5 Essential Ingredients to Getting Gruff,” “My Dad’s Movie: The True Story of the NeverBeast,” and “Jeff Corwin’s Guide to Real-World NeverBeasts.” There’s also a selection of deleted scenes (with intros by director Steve Loter) and two very brief shorts, “Tink’n About Animals” and “Gruff Love.”

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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