In this fully animated, all-new take on the Smurfs, a mysterious map sets Smurfette and her best friends Brainy, Clumsy and Hefty on an exciting and thrilling race through the Forbidden Forest filled with magical creatures to find a mysterious lost village before the evil wizard Gargamel does. Embarking on a rollercoaster journey full of action and danger, the Smurfs are on a course that leads to the discovery of the biggest secret in Smurf history!
We've all grown up with the Smurfs in the form of comic strips, cartoons, and feature films. Back in 2011, The Smurfs got a major overhaul in the form of a live-action crossed with the latest in CGI that brought the masses back to love these little blue creatures. With the help from Neil Patrick Harris and Hank Azaria playing the evil, but clumsy Gargamel, the Smurfs were on their way to superstardom once again. The revamp even managed to gross more than half a billion dollars at the box office, which spawned a sequel a couple of years later that did almost as well with the same formula. What worked so well in those two films was watching all of the Smurfs interact with the real world of Earth in a sillier Who Framed Roger Rabbit sort of way.
Add to that the brilliance of Azaria's portrayal of Gargamel, which should have won awards, and the charisma of Neil Patrick Harris to satisfy both kids and adults into an entertaining two hours. This is not the approach for the third film, Smurfs: The Lost Village, which doesn't really acknowledge any events or characters from the first two films. Instead, it's another revamp for the series that's bittersweet to the taste buds. On one hand, this all-encompassing CGI fest can focus more on the central characters and their stories, rather than the real world and its characters. On the other hand, what made those films so great was the Smurfs exploring the real world in silly, adventurous ways, along with a perfect performance by Azaria. It also should be said that those previous two Smurf films really connected with a broad audience, whereas Smurfs: The Lost Village caters to only a much younger audience and leaves the adults scratching for something more.
The main focal point of the story is Smurfette (Demi Lovato), who is the only girl in the Smurf village. Not only that, she doesn't have a personality trait that makes the other Smurfs different, like the strong Hefty Smurf (Joe Manganiello), Clumsy Smurf (Jack McBrayer), or Brainy Smurf (Danny Pudi). Smurfette is just, well Smurfette. She longs to know where she came from and what makes her special, which sets her out on an adventure with likes of Hefty, Clumsy, and Brainy. She ends up crossing paths with the evil Gargamel (Rainn Wilson) who is looking to find a mysterious lost village that might contain something to make him the most powerful wizard in all the land. When Smurfette and her pals stumble upon something out of the ordinary, it changes their lives forever.
The story and action sequences are all formulaic and something you've seen many times before in these animated films. Our main Smurfs meet weird and lovable characters along the way, while being chased by Gargamel and avoiding some oft he nastier creatures of the Smurf world, such as Smurf-hungry plants. There is a good message for the kids and enough bright colors and pop music to keep them still for a couple of hours. The voice acting is good, but not great. Rainn Wilson delivers a decent Gargamel, but there's just something missing that makes him feel more one-dimensional. The other voice talent is good as well, but it's nothing memorable by any means. Smurfs: The Lost Village has some great moments, but is mostly for the kids this time. The animation looks great as ever and I'm sure there will be a sequel. I just hope next time around, it's not as lost as this.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Smurfs: The Lost Village comes with comes with a dual-layered UHD66 Disc and a Region A locked Blu-ray Disc. There is an insert for a Digital HD copy along with a booklet for Smurf promotions. The discs are housed in a hard, black plastic case with a cardboard sleeve too.
Smurfs: The Lost Village comes with a 2160p UHD transfer, which according to IMDB, was up-converted from a 2K master transfer. This is presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio and does not feature a 3D option. Watching both the standard Blu-ray version and this 4K disc, the 4K-upgrade isn't night and day, with only a few minor differences, but the picture is more stable with sharper details and more realistic colors (something I thought I'd never say with a Smurfs film).
Detail shows a ton of texture throughout the film in Smurf village and on their uniform clothing. With the 2160p resolution, the individual threads in the Smurf's white hats and long john pants can be seen quite easily. You can even see the threads stretch and twist when the Smurfs move around, which was quite nice. This isn't as evident on the standard Blu-ray. Individual hairs on Azrael look great as the evil feline pounces around and small skin textures on Gargamel and other Smurfs are vivid. The backgrounds of Smurf village are beautiful and full of detail in the vegetation and small huts they live in. There are a few examples of liquid and gas explosions throughout the film, which with the 4K transfer, every particle and piece of debris show up perfectly.
The HDR / wider color gamut look excellent as well, but when comparing to the standard Blu-ray, looks more realistic in that it's not as bright or poppy like a Barbie film. The different shades of blue on the Smurf's skin are easily distinguishable in different lighting conditions, as well as the dirt and grass marks on their white uniforms. The gorgeous greens of the trees and leaves, as well as the bright blue water and skies look fantastic and rich. When comparing to the standard Blu-ray release, the Smurfs blue skin looks a bit brighter as do the white clothing and Papa Smurf's red hat, but there wasn't a shading difference that gives this 4K transfer a more realistic look. Black levels are deep and inky as well in all cases. There were no instances of any banding, aliasing, or video noise that leaked through here, leaving this video presentation with top marks.
This release comes with an excellent Dolby Atmos track that fully utilizes the sound design and atmospherics of Smurf village. It's easy to see how the extra speakers in this Dolby Atmos mix truly delivers a better audio experience than the also-great lossless DTS-HD 5.1 mix on the standard Blu-ray release. Right from the beginning of the film, the sound effects are full of life with tons of different personality Smurfs talking in the background and causing mischief in their own way.
The other animal life in the village can be heard nicely through the height speakers as can a few Smurfs who are caught jumping around or flying in the air in the background, providing a very immersive experience. When a certain Smurf flies from one end of the screen to the opposite side, the Dolby Atmos track perfectly transitions the sound across all appropriate speakers to make it seem like an actual Blue Smurf flew past you. The explosions pack a punch too, as do the frozen spells that Gargamel casts with excellent low-end heft.
The music selection is of the pop variety, but adds some fun entertainment without drowning out any other sound aspect. The dialogue is crisp and clear, and easy to follow along, and free of any pops, cracks, hiss, or shrills, leaving this Dolby Atmos track with high marks.
The only extra on the UHD Disc is the Commentary track. The rest of the extras can be found on the standard Blu-ray Disc.
Audio Commentary - Directory Kelly Asbury, the animation supervisor Alan Hawkins, and the story director Brandon Jeffords all deliver an engaging and fun commentary track on the making of this movie. They all talk about the new characters, the direction the film goes from the past two movies, technical details, voice casting, and some fun tidbits on the history of the Smurfs. This is actually quite a great listen.
Kids at Heart! The Making of Smurfs: The Lost Village (HD, 9 Mins.) - The cast and crew talk about making the film, including the animation process, voice acting, storyboards, and more. They even make it cute by adding kids acting like the adults who made the movie.
Lost Village Dance Along (HD, 3 Mins.) - You can mimic dancers who dance to one of the movie's hit songs.
Demi Lovato Meets Smurfette (HD, 1 Min.) - A very quick interview with Smurfette interviewing her voice actor.
Smurfify Your Nails (HD, 3 Mins.) - This teaches you how to paint your nails like Smurfs.
Baker Smurf's Mini Kitchen (HD, 4 Mins.) - The master of the kitchen Smurf watches someone else make some delicious food.
Music Video (HD, 3 Mins.) - Here is the music video for Meghan Trainor's I'm A Lady.
Making the Song 'You Will Always Find Me In Your Heart (HD, 3 Mins.) - The composer of the film talks about how important the score came into play for the film, which had some emotional tones to it.
The Sound of the Smurfs (HD, 4 Mins.) - This is a look at the sound design and sound effects of the film.
Draw Your Favorite Smurfs (HD, 8 Mins.) - Here is a series of different Smurf characters that shows you how to draw them for your own.
Emoji Sneak Peek (HD, 2 Mins) - Trailer for the upcoming movie.
Trailers (HD, 12 Mins.) - Trailers for all the Smurf films and side projects.
Smurfs: The Lost Village is a fun film, for the most part, and looks gorgeous. There are some major flaws with the story and characters, along with the fact they chose to gear everything towards young kids this time around, rather than a broader audience. I sure miss Neil Patrick Harris and Hank Azaria, but there are enough engaging action beats and witty banter to just make it through. The video and audio presentations are top-notch as far as animation goes and a number of extras are highly recommended, especially for the younger kids. This UHD Disc comes Highly Recommended!
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of Dunkirk on Blu-ray. This post features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts sections.