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‘Secret of the Wings’ a bland, inoffensive entry into the Disney DTV canon

Secret of the Wings, the latest in the Disney Fairies series, is the movie-length definition of the word “innocuous.” It’s hard to imagine that anyone would be truly offended by the film, and that any children would be too scared or frightened by the extremely friendly, candy-colored world of Pixie Hollow and the neighboring Winter Woods. But you (or your kids) would have to be a die-hard fan of Tinker Bell and her fairy friends to buy this new entry. The Walt Disney Company has made far worse films, more obnoxious, more annoying than Secret of the Wings; still, those movies are almost worth watching because, hey, at least, they make you feel something. Secret of the Wings is 75 minutes of cinematic tofu. It has no taste, no bite, aside from whatever you ascribe to it.

In this new film, the fourth feature-length story of Tinker Bell and her Pixie Hollow friends, Tink (voiced by Mae Whitman of Parenthood and Arrested Development; cue the standard-issue response: “Her?”) is desperate to enter the Winter Woods that sits next to Pixie Hollow, breaking the long-held rule that winter fairies can’t cross into Pixie Hollow, and fairies in the summer world can’t enter the Winter Woods. Once in the colder climes, Tinker Bell meets Periwinkle (Lucy Hale), who’s apparently Tink’s sister, separated at birth. (Did you know that Tinker Bell and Periwinkle were born from the power of a baby’s laugh? That’s not a ridiculous joke I just made up, I swear.) They get along famously, and Tinker Bell now becomes determined to make it livable in both woodland areas so winter and summer fairies can co-exist peacefully. There’s almost no conflict here—the two authority figures, voiced by Anjelica Huston and Timothy Dalton, aren’t villainous in any way, they’re just concerned about the fairies they rule over benevolently—making Secret of the Wings a thoroughly dull experience.

Perhaps there are some purists who dislike the fact that these stories about one of Disney’s most famous characters are presented in computer animation, not hand-drawn animation. But seeing as this is the fourth film in the continuing series, they’ve probably made peace with this frustrating fact. Secret of the Wings is being released this week in a slew of options: you could get the DVD, the Blu-ray/DVD combo, or the Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD combo, titled the “Flitterrific Fairies Double Pack.” (No, I don’t know what that means, either.) However, despite the number of discs on the latter edition, there are few special features, and the animation doesn’t seem to lend itself to a lot of 3D enhancement. (I don’t have a 3D TV, so I’m taking a wild stab here.) It may be foolish to assume a direct-to-DVD sequel would get a decent Blu-ray treatment, but while the film itself looks quite bright and sparkling on Blu-ray, that’s all there is.

There are a grand total of four special features on the Flitterrific Fairies Double Pack (a phrase you should probably not say out loud ten times fast, lest you want to lose your ability to talk with a straight face), two of which are music videos. Another, called “Fright Light,” is almost hilariously short; it would take more time to describe what happens in the one-gag feature than to watch it. Finally, there’s a 22-minute 2011 TV special called “Pixie Hollow Games,” dubbed a bonus adventure. As this hasn’t had its own home media release, if your kids are dead-set on owning the short—though the Olympic-style competition is peopled with clichéd characters and conflicts, it actually has more of a story than the film it’s attached to—go for it.

In short, Secret of the Wings is a polite little movie that has no intent to tell a memorable story or introduce any lovable new characters. If your kids are fans of the series, or if you are, then go right ahead and snag it. Keep in mind, this is the kind of investment you should make if you’re going to watch the movie a lot, not just once, as the four-disc combo pack really only has four different ways of watching the same movie. That may be the true secret of these wings.