The appearance of a strange green comet upsets the inhabitants of Pixie Hollow in "Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast," the latest installment in Disney's popular franchise centered on the "Peter Pan" character and her magical friends.
The comet wakes the Neverbeast, a shaggy, green-eyed creature whose appearance suggests a mixture of an opossum, a flat-faced dog and one of Maurice Sendak's Wild Things.
Tinker Bell's friend Fawn (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin), who never met a potentially dangerous creature she didn't adore, immediately befriends the beast, naming him Gruff and helping him to build a series of high stone towers. They quickly bond in mini-adventures that director Steve Loter and the film's four writers seem to have borrowed a little too obviously from the "How to Train Your Dragon" films.
The presence of the huge beast upsets Nyx (Rosario Dawson), the fairy who leads the security squadron. Her research suggests he's a monster who will generate a gargantuan lightning storm that will devastate Pixie Hollow. Is Gruff the bringer of doom, as Nyx argues, or is he the misunderstood good guy, as Fawn insists?
"Legend of the Neverbeast" looks a lot like "Strange Magic," which was released last week by Disney's Touchstone division. Both films feature lots of scenes of fairies with insect wings twirling and darting amid flowers and forests.
Although it was made on a smaller budget, "Neverbeast" is a more coherent and entertaining film than the bizarre jukebox musical "Strange Magic." And for the elementary schoolgirls who make up the target audience, "Legend of the Neverbeast" is a welcome visit with their favorite characters, even though Tink herself (Mae Whitman) is reduced to a supporting role.
"Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast"
MPAA rating: G
Running time: 1 hour, 16 minutes
Playing: El Capitan, Hollywood