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 Blu-ray
Smurfs: The Lost Village comes with comes with a 50GB Blu-ray Disc that is Region A Locked. There is an insert for a Digital HD copy along with a booklet for Smurf promotions. The disc is housed in a hard, blue plastic case with a cardboard sleeve too.
Smurfs: The Lost Village features a great 1080p HD transfer and is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This video presentation looks amazing and quite bright. Details in the Smurf's clothing show up nicely here, where you can even see mud stains on those bright white pants. Papa Smurf's beard shows individual hairs going in every direction as does Gargamel's bush eyebrows. Wider shots of the Smurf Village never goes soft either, but showcase some excellent plant life, rocks, and Smurf houses.
Colors are bright and rich, but look a bit like one of those bubble-gum pop episodes of Barbie. It looks great for sure, but not exactly realistic or with a variety of color shades, such as Smurf-blue to distinguish lighting conditions. Black levels are always deep and inky and there are no major compression issues, leaving this video presentation with great marks.
This release comes with a strong lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix that captures the essence and feel of Smurf village, especially for the kids. All of the funny sounds that the Smurfs make with their different inventions and voices all proved an immersive listening experience that is quite fun. Dialogue is always clear and easy to understand with some great directionality, which is key since there are hundreds of Smurfs talking at once in a small area.
Bigger action scenes ramp up the bass with great sound effects that fly across the speaker system. It's not as fluid as the Dolby Atmos track on the UHD Disc, but it gets the job done well enough for sure. Experiments gone wrong and explosions are robust and thunderous in a fun way as to not scare the kids. Ambient noises of other life in the village are loud and ooze from the surrounds quite often. The score sounds great, but again is on the kids pop side of things. Lastly, there were no audio issues with this DTS-HD track, leaving it with very good marks.
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 look and sound great, as far as animation goes, and there are a ton of extras, especially for the younger kids. 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.