Best Quote from Audience Member:
The Pirate Fairy:
"Wow. That was awesome. How was that awesome?"
I was slated to review America today. I advertised that I would be doing as much. Last week when I went to see The Signal, there was a commercial for America, that showed the history of America rewinding and then disappearing as George Washington was shot and killed by a sniper during the Revolutionary War. Then the narrator asked, "What if America never existed?" And we see the monuments disappear one by one.
I wrote an entire book about American history, speculating what would happen if there was no more America, and how Americans would rebuild their country, etc. I also write historical fiction, and I am currently finishing up the first book in a trilogy about an alternative universe set in 1888 America (it's steampunk!). To say that I love alternative history America, and American history in general, is an understatement.
So to say I was excited to see America was an understatement. I was totally stoked. I talked with my writing partner about how this could finally push AU literature to the forefront, how I was so happy there was a big-budget movie focusing on history, and ... and ... and ...
I must have sounded like an idiot.
The promised movie was abandoned five minutes into the film. This was not a film about alternative history, speculative fiction, or anything really that was advertised on the poster or the trailer.
I debated how to go about reviewing America. And I decided to focus on the contract that a film makes with its audience.
We talked about this contract a little last week with The Signal, and this breach is just another clause of the complicated relationship between author and reader. We as writers do not write a book about giraffes' digestive systems and then slap robots on the cover to get more people to read our book about giraffes' digestive systems. That's not how marketing is supposed to work. You are supposed to advertise your work to gain attention from those who would be interested in reading your work, and then perhaps bring some interested general audience members to the table. People who like action movies go to action movies; they don't want the trailer to make Chocolat look like a James Bond film. They're not going to enjoy themselves, and they aren't going to rope more people into coming to see it. It's being honest; that's the contract.
So I did not receive the film that was advertised. And that saddened me.
So I decided to also not give you what I promised. I will not be reviewing America today, but instead Disney's The Pirate Fairy. Those who would have enjoyed the America review will get no such thing and probably have little interest in The Pirate Fairy. And those who would have really loved The Pirate Fairy will be confused and turned off by my original premise, because America is not a Disney movie, it's not rated PG, and it's not for children. Two films with two genres and two different objectives will now be mashed into one review, and no one will be happy.
The Pirate Fairy is the latest installment of the Tinkerbell fairy movies that I have long avoided due to thinking that these films were trite and not in sync with the Neverland canon. However, it does follow the canon and has created its own canon.
Zarina is a pixie dust fairy who works to sack up the dust for the other fairies. Fairy Gary, a kind-hearted boss who loves Zarina but just absolutely cannot deal with her doing stupid stuff, like wanting to mess around with dangerous pixie dust to experiment. Obviously Zarina takes a leaf out of Tinkerbell's rebellious book and goes ahead and does the experiment anyway, causing the destruction of the pixie dust tree and a huge problem for her entire ... people? Tribe? Town? Pixie fairy girls and boys.
Zarina then leaves. The movie cuts to a year later, when a celebration of the seasons is taking place in the big arena. Zarina returns with a dastardly plan, and the fairies have to go after her to bring her home and save their community.
This movie was awesome. I'm a huge Disney nerd, and I love to learn how to structure my stories from watching Pixar and the full-length animated features. This isn't because I'm a crazy person, it's because that's how they teach you in playwriting school how to do it! Or maybe my professor was a crazy person ... Regardless. Pixar and Disney movies have to shove a fulfilling, sensible story into 90 minutes and simplify it to PG standards. The Pirate Fairy, while not holding any deep themes of betrayal or racial equality, it does in fact touch on those Disneyrific ideas of unconditional love, home, family, and friendship.
One thing I appreciated about this movie is that it draws from earlier movies, including Tinkerbell's sister and a character arch for all of the girls. SPOILER We also see the emergence of the one and only Captain Hook, as his character is actually very much fleshed out. He is ruthless, conniving, elitist, and terrified of crocodiles. However, we see a gentler side to him, where maybe, even for just a moment, he is envious and open to the magic that the other Neverlanders can share with him. I enjoyed his character and his interactions with the crew and Zarina.
ANOTHER SPOILER. One thing I did not understand, however, was the complete absolving of Zarina's crimes. Zarina messed up. Zarina needed to learn a lesson. And maybe she did? But Tink and the gang sort of gloss over the truth when it comes to telling the other fairies what Zarina did, and Zarina is welcomed back into the township under a false understanding. I didn't like that, and usually Disney is better at their denouements.
This movie was very girl power. I appreciated that. All the main characters were female, they were not weak ... not a one of them ... and not all of them were dressed in skimpy outfits. Tink has grown to mean more than the jealous little harpy flitting around Peter's head, and I appreciate that. She's an inventor, she's got ingenuity, and she's a leader. However, I do feel like there was a larger problem when it came to POC. One of the fairy gals is Asian, and I thought that was cool. However, one of the pirates is a walking stereotype with a Fu Man Chu moustache and a thick accent. One of the fairy gals is black, but not too black. A fair-skinned fairy is the closest we get to any black characters in the entire film, and that worries and bothers me. Why are fairies predominantly white? They're fairies. Especially when you're creating a film to work as a learning tool for empowerment for little girls, you want to be a little more inclusive.
Pirate Fairy should be watched by anyone who is a Disney fan or a Neverlander. It's got beautiful animation (better than Frozen, I dare to say), it sticks to canon, it has a couple inside jokes thrown in there, and the girl power is abound. I think anyone who is young at heart will be pleasantly surprised that this film isn't just a cash-grab, but a legitimate piece of animation and storytelling.
THE MOVIE ITSELF: Pirate Fairy was pleasant, and I had few complaints about its animation, storytelling, characterization, consistency, or themes. It was actually more than what it had advertised, and that is always a great surprise. However, it is aimed at younger audiences, so those who are not Disney nerds and looking for a good Saturday date film, this may not be for you. A-
ENJOYMENT FACTOR: I enjoyed it thoroughly. Again, I got what I paid for, and then some. A-.
VERDICT: I am in no way saying that viewers should only go see movies inside their comfort zones. If that were the case, I would have never seen Judd Apatow films, Mayazaki movies, or even Au Revoir, Mes Enfants. But I learned from a young age that you need to try things you don't like to see if you actually like them. So please, please go see movies that you don't think you'll like. Go read books you wouldn't usually pick up. But it is the writer's responsibility to properly represent their work. And it is the filmmaker's responsibility to inform you of what you're paying money to see. My verdict? Go explore. Go see movies. And go rent The Pirate Fairy on Netflix.
AMERICA/THE PIRATE FAIRY
I like movies.
I see a lot of them.