Disney’s THE PIRATE FAIRY: One Step Closer to STEM Fairies?
By Kristen Rutherford on March 30, 2014
Disney princesses are everywhere, and the toy aisle is super saturated with their altered visages. (I’m not including Anna & Elsa in this group – they’ve yet to go through the princess machine.)
Meanwhile, lurking in a straight to DVD purgatory are the Disney Fairies. Why? I just don’t get it. The Tinker Bell movies are great, and I’ve long been arguing that Tinker Bell, with her “tinkering” talent, teaches kids that it’s cool to be an engineer. And now with the introduction of Zarina, a/k/a “The Pirate Fairy,” it feels like we’re actually getting closer to STEM talent fairies.
The Tinker Bell movies take place in the world of “Peter Pan” – the fairies are denizens of Neverland, and reside in Pixie Hollow. Each fairy has their own “talent” that helps keep things moving along in Pixie Hollow, as well as the rest of the world. In other words, they a) have JOBS and b) have to work together to make things happen, like, the seasons that we mortals on the “Mainland” count on. In the middle of Pixie Hollow is the Pixie Dust Tree, from which, you guessed it, flows the pixie dust that the fairies rely on for everything. And, as we learned in Tinker Bell and The Lost Treasure, the tree needs an infusion of blue pixie dust to keep pumping out the glitter. Blue pixie dust is serious business and extremely potent. You don’t mess with it.
MILD SPOILERS IN THE NEXT PARAGRAPHS
Zarina (voice of Christina Hendricks) is a dust-keeper fairy with an insatiable curiosity about how pixie dust works, and spends her days experimenting with her own rations of dust trying to change its composition. Questioning authority gets her into trouble, and she runs away from Pixie Hollow to join forces with… gulp… pirates. (Fairies HATE pirates.) After Zarina steals the supply of precious blue pixie dust, Tinker Bell (voice of Mae Whitman) and her friends set off to find her, and end up head-to-head against a band of pirates led by a cabin boy named James (voice of Tom Hiddleston), who eventually turns into the Captain Hook we’re all familiar with.
The movie has plenty of nice nods and tie-ins to the original Peter Pan. Tom Hiddleston is fabulous as young Hook, and does justice to Hans Conried, the original voice of that old Codfish. And we’re even treated to the origin story of the Tick-Tock Crocodile. Plus, Zarina, declaring that her new talent is Alchemy, becomes a great jumping off point for teaching kids about basic laboratory techniques, theory, and experimental method in general.
I’d love to see the Disney fairies get more recognition. When we go to Disneyland, cast members always make sure to greet little girls with a hearty, “Hello Princess!” (Which, as an aside, kind of drives me nuts, because if they are princesses, then cast members should be referring to them as “your majesty.”) I’d rather be a pixie than a princess. Especially when the pixies are working hard, changing the world, and being sassy.
The Pirate Fairy comes to Blu-ray/DVD on April 1st.