The Smurfs 2 Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
With the recent release of fully animated Smurfs: The Lost Village, we look back at the previous two blended live action Smurfs titles.Where The Smurfs made for a reasonably fun little kid and family-friendly frolic around the Big Apple, making for a well-delivered debut to the Big Screen mayhem of the blue creatures, The Smurfs 2 feels rushed and aimless. Even taking the action to Paris for a new backdrop doesn't really give it any flavour, with much of the lightweight frivolity and easy fun of the first outing replaced by forced, leaden laughs, and vapid, repetitive action. The returning cast members appear to have largely lost their interest, with only Hank Azaria's Gargamel still committed to investing in this otherwise fairly pointless piece.Fans of the first film would be forgiven for assuming that this sequel is not actually that bad when they see Gargamel’s magic show intro, wooing Parisian crowds with his turn-men-into-frogs conjuring – which nobody realises are, of course, real. Unfortunately it's all downhill from their, with Smurf Village – aside from Smurfette and Papa Smurf – providing a bland and indistinctive array of characters, and the trip to pick up the NY live action crowd just sealing the fate of the film. There's a decent origin tale for Smurfette in this, but it's ultimately better serviced by The Lost Village.
Picture QualityThe Smurfs 2, as with the first film, had its effects finished through a 2K Digital Intermediate (DI), resulting in a 4K upscale on this Ultra HD Blu-ray disc. Nevertheless, the 2160p presentation, framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen, is outstanding, arguably topping even the first film, with gorgeous colours and wondrous detail.
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 Smurfs 2 on a Samsung UE55KS8000 Ultra HD TV and a Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
The HDR presentation is outstanding
The Smurfs 2 already made for a fantastic reference title on standard 1080p Blu-ray, and it only looks better here, bringing forth impressive precision and razor-sharp fine object detail, facial observations, clothing weaves and background textures. There's no signs of softness, nor any defects, and it's hard to see what more a full 4K DI could do for this image.
It's particularly impressive in its implementation of HDR and WCG, which give the colour some depth and vibrance that even the excellent Blu-ray can't compete with. Its impossible to get to the bottom of the bottomless depths of black, and the colours are afforded so much pop that the image competes with the depth of even the 3D conversion. It's a fabulous presentation.
Sound QualityThe Smurfs in Paris may not leave much to be desired in terms of content, but it opens up plenty of room for effects coverage, thumping score and centre-stage dialogue. Upgrading over the Blu-ray counterpart's already excellent DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, we get a fully immersive Dolby Atmos mix founded upon a tremendous Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track which is close to flawless.
A tremendous audio track which is close to flawless
Dialogue, predominantly provided by strong ADR work, comes across clearly and coherently throughout, delivered with precision, whilst the effects are varied and ambitious, allowing for lots of magic-infused 'super-powered' flourishes, and a fair amount of Parisian mayhem.
Surrounds get a decent workout, with plenty of dynamic breadth and punchy atmospheric range. Action sequences ignite the soundstage, but the quieter moments offer up some decent ambience, and even the LFE channel gets a look-in. With a functional, if unmemorable, score further fueling the array, the track remains reference through and through.
ExtrasAs with the release of the first film, and the frustrating general norm for Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, all of the extras are left to the accompanying Blu-ray disc, although, unlike the first film, there isn't anything particularly substantial this time around.
There isn't anything substantial compared to the other Smurfs releases
There are a smattering of unexceptional Deleted Scenes, and some token Featurettes covering Smurfette’s character arc, the Naughties and Azreal (as well as on animating Gargamel’s feline companion). Perhaps the only worthwhile extra is the short film, The Legend of Smurfy Hollow, and the disc is otherwise rounded off by a few Previews.
Ultra HD Blu-ray VerdictThere's a decent origin tale for Smurfette in this, but it's ultimately better serviced by The Lost Village.
The Smurfs 2 disappoints after the surprisingly fun first outing, losing much of the freshness and charm of the original. Still, it makes for an even more impressive Ultra HD Blu-ray release, with reference video and audio, even if the extras are less than impressive.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99
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