HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:79
La la la la la, la la la la! Oh dear, there are very few songs in the world that stick around in your head and just WON’T get out. “It’s a small world”, “Let it Go” from “Frozen” and of course, the “Smurfs” theme song. I loved “The Smurfs” growing up and still do have a fondness to the original cartoon (and comics), but back in 2011 I was VERY leery of the upcoming live action/animated film that we’re reviewing today. I could have seen a remake of the cartoon (as all things get remade sooner or later), but this was a weird beast as most hybrid live action/animated films tend to do rather poorly. Well, “The Smurfs” came out with horrible critical reviews, but a decent amount of regular viewers ended up enjoying it (my older nephews for one). I barely remembered the film at all after seeing it for myself (probably intentional amnesia), but with 4K content being released left and right I decided to see for myself if my hatred was well founded. Sadly, it most definitely was, and even though the Blu-ray, and now the 4K UHD, stands as fantastic audio/video demo material, one cannot help but just wince at the film itself.
We all know the basics of the Smurfs. Little magical blue creatures living in their own little world. The only fear to their existence is the evil wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria) and his feline minion Azreal. Well, in an attempt to steal the Smurf’s essence once again, Gargamel actually ends up finding the Smurf village thanks to the witless act of young Clumsy Smurf (Anton Yelchin) and chases the little blue people through a magical portal when ends up popping them into OUR world (along with Gargamel and Azreal). There the Smurfs meet a hapless cosmetics marketing director named Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris) and his wife Grace (the adorable Jayma Mays). Patrick is brow beaten by his money driven (and pride driven) boss Odile Anjelou (Sofia Vergara), head of Anjelou cosmetics.
The plot then takes on the classic family friendly clichés. The Smurfs and Patrick have to work together to get themselves back home to the Smurf villain (along with dodging the machinations of Gargamel), while they also teach Patrick how to relax and follow his dreams to success (which he of course does). Everyone smiles at each other and they live happily ever after. Well, after the obligatory battle with the evil wizard who has been trying so VERY hard to capture the Smurfs so that he can steal their magical essence and gain more power.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=94434[/img]Racking my brain for positive things to say about the movie I can come up with two things. Jayma Mays and Hank Azaria. Jayma is an adorable actress who seems genuinely kind and full of vibrant warmth in her roles. The movie plays to these strengths as she is one the lights of the movie and charming beyond belief. The other is Hank Azaria, who is known as the man with a thousand voices and personalities (thanks much in part to his work on “The Simpsons”). This is not EXACTLY the cartoon version of Gargamel, but he does a fantastic job at becoming the goofy wizard, and is usually the highlight of the film with his quips and sneers.
The rest. Well the rest is a terrifying batch of “nope, just make it stop”. The classic, but annoying, Smurf theme song is overplayed to the max and you can TELL this is meant for 8 years old and under. Sadly that’s not my demographic and I found this almost as bad as “Monster High” material, but with the added insult of coming from a really fun cartoon that is STILL a lot of fun today (I showed some old VHS rips of the show to my nephews after the movie came out to show them what REAL Smurf adventure was about).
Rated PG for some mild rude humor and action
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=94442[/img]The big thing you want to know is “is the video and audio better?”. Well, I can say without a doubt that this is most certainly a handsome upgrade over the 2011 Blu-ray. Even though the film was finished at 2K (and there is no information about a newer master that I’m not aware of), but the increase in resolution and clarity is much more pronounced and impressive than I expected. Colors from the HDR process are much more vivid, with the blues of the animated smurfs looking rich and incredibly well saturated. The oranges of Azreal pop just a little more and the deep dark blacks of Gargamel’s robes look deep and inky. Honestly, I was expecting a lot less from the 2K DI considering how lackluster UHD discs like “Sing” and “Secret Life of Pets” looked in the upgrade department. However, Sony seems to have put a lot of care into the transfer and the increases in resolution and the advances of HDR make for a VERY pretty picture. There’s still a flicker of digital noise in the beginning shot of the film and some of the CGI looks a bit fake compared to the real world characters, but the upgrade over the old Blu-ray is well worth the price of admission.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=94450[/img]The Atmos mix is also a very solid jump up from the old 5.1 DTS-HD MA mix of 2011. When jumping from a 5.1 to full Atmos mix the differences are readily apparent as the extra channels add for a much better sense of immersion during the final battle with Gargamel, or the chase that leads them through the “blue moon” at the beginning. Overheads get used a solid amount with the birds that the Smurfs fly at one point as well as during the chaotic battle sequences. Dialog is still crisp and clear, with great prioritization in the center channel. LFE is impressive and adds some well needed weight in Gargamel’s magical powers, or the thunderous pounding of a basset hound’s footsteps to a Smurf’s ear. The only thing that seemed a bit weird was the fact that the music seemed a bit muted when I A/B’d it against the 5.1 mix on the Blu-ray. Not a huge deal, but it seems softer and less pronounced than the older disc.
• The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol
• Smurf-O-Vision: Second Screen Experience
• The Smurfs Fantastic Adventure Game
• Audio Commentary withDirector Raja Gosnell
• Audio Commentary with Producer Jordan Kerner, VFX Supervisor Richard Hoover, and Writers J. David Stem, David N. Weiss, Jay Scherick, and David Ronn
• Deleted & Extended Scenes
• The Smurfs: Comic Book to the Big Screen
• Smurf Speak: Meet the Cast
• Going Gargamel
• Happy Music Montage
• Progression Reels
• Cast and Crew
• Memorable Moments
• Smurfy Moments
• Gargamel and Azreal
I grew up with the original “Smurfs” cartoon so this adaptation of the material is SORELY lacking in anything that resembles the childhood toons of my youth. I have to say, even spending 6 years between viewings and setting myself up to enjoy the film on its own merits, I just couldn’t enjoy this strange little film. I know my nieces and nephews had a blast, but I was grinding my teeth the entire time and wondering just when the film would end. There are SOME redeeming qualities, but not a whole lot, except the stunning audio and video on the 4K (and the Blu-ray to be honest) discs. Sony’s new release of the film leaves 3D off the table, but includes healthy upgrades to the audio and video making it a worthy upgrade for those who like the film. Otherwise, stick with a rental.
Starring: Neil Patrick Harris, Jonathan Winters, Katy Perry, Hank Azaria
Directed by: Raja Gosnell
Written by: J. David Stern, David N. Weiss
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 HEVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (TrueHD 7.1 Core), French, French Canadian, Catalan, Italian, Portuguese, German, Spanish DD 5.1
Runtime: 103 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: March 28th 2017
Buy Smurfs On 4K Blu-ray at Amazon
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