Before dragging this wretched picture into the alley and giving it the rubber hose, we should, of course, acknowledge that it does serve a purpose. Parents who care not a whit about the quality of family entertainment can leave their younger ones in front of the latest Tinker Bell film without fear of them experiencing inappropriate language, disturbing violence or any unsettling outbreaks of plot.
Mind you, even that demographic might find cause to complain about the film’s uncompromising brevity. You expect a teeny bit more digital babysitting for your money than a mere 78 minutes. That’s barely enough time to slug an EnormoCola and scoff a GigantaBucket.
Like the recent (not too terrible) Planes , the Tinker Bell films emerge from a division of Disney largely geared towards straight-to-DVD productions. Elsewhere in the Mouse House, while millions are spent developing quality pictures such as Frozen , a horde of hard-working minions throw together stuff that will do well enough for the half-term holidays.
The Tinker Bell franchise is – heaven help us! – DisneyToon Studios' signature product. Extracting little from JM Barrie's Peter Pan (which cast the fairy as a right little tyrant), the stories often touch upon rebellion, but always end up arguing for bland conformity.
In the latest episode, a frustrated “dust-fairy” robs some powerful blue pixie dust and flies off to join a gang of stereotypically Cornwallian pirates. We feel her pain. But we know that Tinker and her gang of not-very-mean girls will eventually persuade the antagonist to wise up and get with the programme.
Featuring worryingly revealing costumes by some winner of Project Runway, Pirate Queen works hard at making a fantasy world seem no more remarkable than your average middle-American shopping mall. This is not escapism; it offers, rather, a kind of a twisted, back-handed realism.
Oh well. Maybe they’ll grow out of it.