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Dustin Putman

Tinkerbell and the Legend of the NeverBeast  (2015)
2½ Stars
Directed by Steve Loter.
Voice Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Mae Whitman, Rosario Dawson, Megan Hilty, Lucy Liu, Raven-Symoné, Pamela Adlon, Danai Gurira, Anjelica Huston, Chloe Bennet, Thomas Lennon, Jeff Corwin, Olivia Holt, Kari Wahlgren, Grey DeLisle.
2015 – 76 minutes
Rated: Rated G (nothing objectionable).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman for, March 6, 2015.
The sixth entry in the "Tinkerbell" direct-to-video series, DisneyToon Studios' "Tinkerbell and the Legend of the NeverBeast" is a gentle and unassuming entertainment that anyone will be able to appreciate but younger children will especially get behind. Watching these well-meaning, albeit minor, animated morsels, it is no secret that they are being targeted to audiences under ten. Fortunately, the personalities of the fairies and the sprightliness of the dialogue keeps things humming no matter the viewer's age. In Pixie Hollow, animal fairy Fawn (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) is an activist to all creatures big and small who discovers a curious green-eyed, gray-haired species in the forest. Naming him Gruff, she befriends the beast and sets out to convince her friends that he is harmless and should not be feared just for his size. Fairy Nyx (Rosario Dawson), however, is suspicious of this animal she knows nothing about. When her research leads her to the legend of a so-called NeverBeast who rises from hibernation every one thousand years to transform into a lightning-shooting monster, Nyx is determined to capture Gruff before he can destroy the land. With the help of Tinkerbell (Mae Whitman) and the rest of her pals, Fawn must prove before it is too late that Gruff is here to help, rather than hurt, them.

"Tinkerbell and the Legend of the NeverBeast" incorporates very few references to J.M. Barrie's "Peter Pan" the way that the previous installment, 2014's "The Pirate Fairy," did, but judged as its own entity it is a sweet charmer. The plot trajectory is easy to predict almost from the start, yet its simplicity allows one to focus on the interplay between the amiable gaggle of characters and the earnestness of its message about the importance to never judge a book (or a person, or a NeverBeast) by its cover. As predicted, the computer animation is less refined than a theatrical Disney release. Less anticipated is the heartfelt nature of its ending, with director Steve Loter unafraid to conclude the film on an honest, bittersweet note that touches upon mortality in a graceful way appropriate for little ones.
© 2015 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

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