Smurfs: The Lost Village Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
The Smurfs drop their live action characters in favour of a fun fully animated affair set apart from its predecessors, for better and worse.Whilst it has accrued some measure of controversy in certain countries due to the (since banned) posters of Smurfette 'displaying the female form', there's no hiding the fact that Smurfs: The Lost Village is resolutely a Smurfette-centric outing, with the focus firmly placed front-and-centre on the only girl in the Smurf Village, and on her ill-advised journey beyond the boundaries of their safe zone, into a mysterious forest where dangers abound, in search of a fabled Lost Village. Of course, prime amidst the dangers is the evil wizard Gargamel, who also hears of the Lost Village and has his own mischievous plans for the secrets within it.Despite lacking the live-action presence of the other movies, The Lost Village manages to get on reasonably well without them, with a little intro peppered with throwaway jokes, a few nice references (like Temple of Doom), and an engaging adventure that ties into Smurfette's origins. The trouble is that without that live action edge - and perhaps some of the more 'human' locations of the real world - The Lost Village can't help but feel like a polished old school Smurfs adventure: distinctly TV movie in scale and scope. It may be a fun diversion but it'll never compete with bigger scale Pixar-esque productions without more ambition.
Picture QualityThe Lost Village looks to have been finished with a 2K Digital Intermediate (DI), resulting in a 4K upscale on this Ultra HD Blu-ray disc, although the 2160p presentation, framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen, is still a strong, rich and colourful offering adding some measure of extra depth to the already high standards set by the accompanying 1080p Blu-ray counterpart.
The disc uses 10-bit video depth, a Wider Colour Gamut (WCG) and High Dynamic Range (HDR), and is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec. We reviewed the Ultra HD Blu-ray release of The Lost Village on a Samsung UE55KS8000 Ultra HD TV and a Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
Although the improvements are somewhat understated, the Ultra HD Blu-ray does have the edge
Already a great looking title on Blu-ray, the Ultra HD Blu-ray does tighten things up, nicely albeit lightly, giving the finer nuances around the edges better clarity and definition. The trouble comes, perhaps, when the material isn't always as focused on the nuances - there isn't always as much texture as you'd like - and so there's a limit to what the Ultra HD Blu-ray can improve upon as the Blu-ray arguably hits the ceiling for much of the time. That said, there are still some really standout moments - not least the stunning eyes of the Smurfs, with a few closer shots reveling in their reflective proclivities.
HDR and WCG implementation is tangible too, giving the colours a richer - albeit not always brighter - appearance and a deeper feel that may not always leave the image looking Trolls-like rainbow, but still works quite well, particularly at making these creatures more 'real'. Although the improvements are distinctly understated, The Lost Village's Ultra HD Blu-ray does have the edge over its Blu-ray counterpart.
Sound QualityThe accompanying Dolby Atmos track rides high on an impressive Dolby TrueHD 5.1 core, making the most of the boisterous and frenetic mix with a the score and pop music tracks that pepper the piece, and myriad effects that bring some of the more exciting sequences to life.
A strong, demo-worthy Dolby Atmos offering
Dialogue remains clearly and coherently defined throughout, whilst the wonders of the forest and Lost Village make for some engaging effects - crazy boxing plants and kissing plants going wild, whilst the Smurfs are repeatedly catapulted across the screen. Gargamel's vulture gets the hard stunts, crashing and bashing through some slo-mo skirmishes, and landing with cartoon dizzy stars that give the movie the feel of an old Looney Tunes cartoon. Surrounds get some great usage, with a finely-tuned sound design that offers discrete precision and LFE underpinning.
The biggest impact comes from the score, though, with plenty of music montage sequences and room for a slew of popular song tracks from the likes of Meghan Trainor and Alesso, as well as, of course, that damn 'Blue' song which feels like it was made with the Smurfs movies in mind. Overall, it's a strong, demo-worthy aural offering.
ExtrasWhilst retaining the Audio Commentary track, the Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Smurfs: The Lost Village is otherwise bare bones, lazily - but unsurprisingly - relegating all of the multitude of bitty extras to the accompanying Blu-ray.
The Ultra HD Blu-ray lazily relegates the extras to the accompanying Blu-ray
The Commentary has the director and animation supervisors at hand to talk in-depth about the project, whilst the brief 10-minute Making-of Featurette takes the novel approach of (partially) substituting kids in place of the adult cast and crew members for the purposes of some of the interview snippets, and there's a slightly alternative Lost Auditions selection too. Smurfette interviews herself, with Demi Lovato chatting to her blue alter-ego, whilst we get short Featurettes on the music and the songs, as well as the Smurfs learning how to cook, and Featurettes on how to paint your nails like a Smurf and draw a Smurf. There's a Dance-Along, some Music Videos, and a few unfinished Deleted Scenes, and whilst none of the extras (apart from the Making-of) last more than a few minutes, there's plenty to explore.
Ultra HD Blu-ray Verdict
It may be a fun diversion but it'll never compete with bigger scale Pixar-esque productions without more ambition
That's perhaps the trouble with the perfectly watchable Smurfs: The Lost Village. It's does jettison the live-action formula of the last couple of movies, and survive without it, but it somehow loses some of its more cinematic distinction in the process and - judge as a fully animated production - it can't stand scrutiny against its peers. The Ultra HD Blu-ray release can, however, stand such scrutiny, looking and sounding great, and with a slew of extras to boot. Fans, particularly little Smurfs, will lap it up.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99
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