When the evil wizard Gargamel chases the tiny blue Smurfs out of their village, they tumble from their magical world and into ours -- in fact, smack dab in the middle of Central Park. Just three apples high and stuck in the Big Apple, the Smurfs must find a way to get back to their village before Gargamel tracks them down.
"Oh, I'm Papa Smurf. I'm the head of a small group of blue people, and I live in the forest with 99 sons and one daughter! Nothing weird about that, no, no totally normal!"
As Smurfs: The Lost Village is mere days away from premiering in theaters all over the world, 2011 seems like a long, long time ago. While The Smurfs may not have lit the box office on fire, it did manage to score a decent return and spawn a rougher and uninspired sequel with The Smurfs 2. Ultimately these movies aren't made for adults. They're made for the kids. Whether or not the adult in the room is entertained is secondary to keeping the pint-sized little land piranha happy. While this flick may not be intended for adults, there is plenty of heart and some genuinely funny gags that make the film an enjoyable watch.
Everything is smurfing in Smurf Village. All of the little blue creatures are getting ready for one of their many celebrations that cause them to sing their familiar theme song. But when Clumsy (Anton Yelchin) accidentally leads the dastardly dimwitted evil wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria) and his cat Azrael (Mr. Krinkle) to the village, all of the Smurfs are forced to flee their mushroom homes. When Clumsy, Papa (Jonathan Winters, Gutsy (Alan Cumming), Brainy (Fred Armisen), and Smurfette (Katy Perry) are accidentally transported to New York City, they're dependent upon the nice human couple Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris) and his pregnant wife Grace (Jayma Mays) to help get them home. Unfortunately, Gargamel is on their trail and the return to Smurf Village may be impossible.
I was stationed on Awesome Uncle babysitting duty with two of my nieces when I first encountered The Smurfs. Growing up, I enjoyed the animated exploits of Papa, Smurfette and the rest of the gang in my usual morning cartoon routine that also included Superfriends and The Snorks. That said, I wasn't too excited about catching this CGI/Real life The Smurfs. The trailers just didn't appeal to me. But when you've got two cute little kids to entertain and they're asking you in their nicest way possible to turn on The Smurfs, you have no choice but to cave into their demands. Surprisingly enough, I found myself actually enjoying this one.
While the film isn't the greatest thing ever made, it manages to entertain. Our central blue buddies in white hats may be the stars, but Hank Azaria's Gargamel is the showstopper. Looking back at the film for this UHD review, I was glad to see that most of his scenes still made me laugh. The bits when he first gets to New York are great. I love when he keeps walking through the steam vents because he likes to look mysterious. Or when he's trying to find a suitable place to perform some magic and he enters a portapotty and exclaims with joy "Oh, it's even got its own cauldron!" still gets me laughing. Yes, it may be a lowbrow poop joke, but it's a funny lowbrow poop joke.
Much of the movie works just fine, but outside of Hank Azaria, most of the human cast is wasted space. Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays play a cute couple and are okay in their respective roles, but they're nothing memorable. Anyone could have played those parts. While Tim Gunn is good for some deadpan humor here and there, his presence amounts to little more than reminding everyone that Project Runway is still a thing. Then there is Sofía Vergara's makeup mogul Odile Anjelou. I'm sure Vergara's a nice person in real life and she was genuinely pretty good in Chef, but here - like so many other roles - she's only got two volumes, loud and louder. After awhile she just becomes annoying and her subplot with Gargamel doesn't really add anything making her presence something of a prolonged cameo appearance.
The Smurfs is an easy one to knock around - but what's the point? Yes, this movie has numerous faults, but it's also meant for kids to enjoy. While I had fun watching this, I had more fun watching it with my nieces. As an adult, I feel like most of the fun and enjoyment you're going to have with The Smurfs is going to come from the little ones around you as they giggle and squeal with glee. If you've never experienced this updated version of The Smurfs, I'll say that it's far from perfect, but it's still a bright, colorful, and entertaining way to spend 103 minutes.
Vital Disc Stats: The 4k UHD & Blu-ray
The Smurfs sings its way onto UHD 4k courtesy of Sony Pictures. The set comes with a UHD 4k Blu-ray as well as a Standard Blu-ray Disc that is virtually identical to the previous release. Both discs are housed in a hard black plastic 2-disc case. A Digital HD voucher slip is also included.
Check out our previous Blu-ray Review for the look and appearance of the Standard Blu-ray release.
As this is the first CGI Animated/Live Action flick I've viewed on UHD 4k, I wasn't sure what to expect. The previous 1080p release was pretty solid stuff to begin with, so I wasn't anticipating much of an upgrade with this 1.85:1 2160p transfer. Well, color me surprised because this release of The Smurfs is damn beautiful!! From that first moment when the Smurfs are riding on the birds and they zip through the tree branches to their village, the uptick in detail, color, and dimension left me speechless.
From the mushroom hits of Smurf Village to the streets of New York City, bright and bold colors smack you in the face. Primaries have an incredibly vibrant pop to them - especially blues. Those little Smurfs never looked better. Poppa Smurf is a particular standout with his slightly lighter shade of blue skin and his bright red pants and hat. Those New York Yellow Cabs look particularly bright and lifelike. They also lead to one of my favorite gags in the film when the Smurfs are trying to get around the city and don't want to be seen by pressing themselves into the Blue Man Group advertisement on the roof of the car.
When the film is in the real world, there is a terrific amount of detail added to the film. I was already impressed with Azaria's Gargamel makeup work, but seeing it in this resolution is really cool as you can see how seamless the work was. Coupled with clothing details and being able to spot individual stitches, the famous New York City locations, especially the cruise through Times Square look fantastic is a real showstopper moment. Three-dimensional depth is notable throughout the movie, but these real-world location shots are particularly noteworthy. Black levels are deep and inky as one would hope with plenty of shadow separation on display.
While this UHD 4k release of The Smurfs is a massive improvement over its 2D standard Blu-ray counterpart, I do have to admit that the added resolution betrays some of the film's visual flaws. The biggest issue is the blending of the CGI Smurf Village to the real world forest set that Gargamel inhabits. When these two worlds collided, the CGI work stands out. At times it can feel weightless as Gargamel roams about and tries to catch the Smurfs and his interactions with objects and structures don't quite blend as well as one would hope. Thankfully that is only a small sequence and the rest of the movie looks terrific.
As I am without a proper Atmos setup, I can only speak to the UHD disc's audio upgrade from the default Dolby True-HD 7.1 standpoint. To that effect, this is a very immersive track. Very much like the video, that first shot of the Smurfs riding those birds through the trees had me pegged to the back of my seat, and then twisting and turning my head simply because I wasn't anticipating the increased surround activity. Smurf Village is a particularly delightful experience and I wish the film had spent more time there. The sounds of the little blue critters scuttling about, doing their thing, and singing their happy song really fills the audio mix and sounds terrific. When Gargamel comes running through, his foot stomps are thunderous and really impactful.
Once the film moves to New York, it becomes a familiar, but still very impressive flurry of city action with screeching tires, honking car horns, extras mumbling inaudible words as they walk around. Imaging in these moments is incredible. Even when the film moves to the Winslow's apartment, there is a true, lifelike sense of space and dimension to the mix. Especially before the humans meet the Smurfs for the first time and Clumsy is trying to get away from the dog in the bathroom. The distant clatter of noise really resonates. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout without any issues and is nicely layered with the other audio elements. The odd duck element is score by Heitor Pereira. It doesn't arrive with that expected kick and punch one would expect. Compared to the Smurfs' "La La" song, it's actually rather underwhelming in the places where you'd expect it to be more prominent. All around, this is an incredibly good audio mix and fans of the film with a great sound setup will be very happy with it.
The majority of the bonus features from the previous Blu-ray release have been included with the Standard Blu-ray that was included with this set. It's pretty typical stuff for a kids flick of this sort, nothing really earth shattering and more silly than informative.
Ultra HD Blu-ray
Moments: (Each Presented in UHD HDR)
Smurfy Moments: (8:05)
Memorable Moments: (5:35)
Gargamel & Azrael (6:03)
Audio Commentary: With Director Raja Gosnell
Audio Commentary: With Producer Jordan Kerner, Writers J. David Stem and David N. Weiss and Jay Scherick and David Ronn, and VFX Supervisor Richard Hoover
Deleted and Extended Scenes: (HD 7:41)
The Smurfs: Comic Book to The Big Screen: (HD 8:15)
Smurf Speak: Meet The Cast: (HD 9:00)
Going Gargamel: (HD 9:57)
Blue-Pers: (HD 00:25)
Happy Music Montage: (HD 1:49)
Progression Reels: (HD 9:14)
It had been a long time since I'd last seen The Smurfs. Even when I saw it, I watched it with a couple of laughing, screaming kids - which was a real delight. Watching it alone, it's still a fun movie, but in all honesty, I wish I had my nieces with me. It's a film designed to make kids happy with some nuggets tossed to the adults in the room. It's a bundle of fun if you go with it.
Sony Pictures brings The Smurfs to UHD in terrific fashion with an eye-poppingly gorgeous 2160p transfer upgrade. The audio is also a huge, but not quite perfect upgrade. The only downside for this release is the lack of any genuinely new bonus content. Considering this set comes with the standard Blu-ray, you at least get all of that old bonus content. I'm calling this UHD 4k release of The Smurfs recommended. If you haven't bought the film yet, it's a terrific investment and if you're hankering for an upgrade, you should be more than pleased with what you see and hear with this release.