The Smurfs Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
The Big Blue Apple
With the recent release of fully animated Smurfs: The Lost Village, we look back at the previous two blended live action Smurfs titles.Six years ago the Smurfs tumbled out of their magical village and into the real world, on the Big Screen, in this fun little adventure that saw them running riot in New York City with Hank Azaria's bumbling evil wizard Gargamel hot on their tracks. Finding refuge with a young couple played by Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays, they try to evade the wizard whilst figuring out a way to get back home. Formulaic but family-driven, The Smurfs makes for a wholesome, enjoyable little child-friendly affair, which will keep the young ones entertained whilst having just enough going on to keep adult audience members from contemplating suicide, which is a fair achievement given expectations.Brimming with striking effects and goofy, slapstick physical comedy, The Smurfs embraces its colourful NYC-flavoured exploits. The game cast (including vocal contributions from Katy Perry as Smurfette) give it their all, perhaps best exemplified by How I Met Your Mother's Harris and Hank Azaria's definitive Gargamel (possibly one of the biggest losses to the fully-animated Lost Village). The near-perfect blend of live action and CG blue characters is at times striking, seldom offering anything that would take you out of the film, and whilst it's not desperately imaginative, it's frustratingly, surprisingly... fun. Light but enjoyable, it does what it says on the tin and brings the Smurfs to life.
Picture QualityThe Smurfs was shot using Genesis High Definition cameras and 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 1.78:1 widescreen, is still excellent, lapping up the colourful visuals and making the most of the HDR application.
The US 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 on a Samsung UE55KS8000 Ultra HD TV and a Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
The 4K upscale is still excellent
The pristine digitally sourced image provides a near-reference presentation, afforded outstanding detail, bringing the CG Smurfs themselves to life perfectly within their live action environment. Textures and background details are lapped up, whilst each individual blue being is given a depth, roundness and pop that, at times, makes you wonder whether it could compete with 3D (which was a retro-fitted job anyway) for added layering and dimensionality.
The colour scheme is broad, vibrant and rich with the added implementation of WCG and HDR, affording the image an at-times eye-poppingly vivid look. With no digital defects and such frequent crystal clarity, it's a wonderful looking presentation, despite its 2K DI, and makes for easy demo material.
Sound QualityThe UHD Blu-ray release of The Smurfs earns itself an upgrade in the aural department too, with a stompingly immersive Dolby Atmos track in comparison to the Blu-ray counterpart's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 alternative. The tremendous Atmos offering is founded upon an already impressive Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core which delivers outstanding dynamic range that, alone, leaves this in demo territory.
The audio is clear reference material
Dialogue is offered up front and centre, with clarity and distinction, whilst effects are given presence across the array, afforded discrete dissemination, and giving the surrounds a thorough workout in the process. From the bustling traffic-packed streets of New York to the commotion in the Smurf village, there's plenty to keep the track engaging and, at times, positively engulfing, and the magical powers further deliver a wondrous flurry to the track. The score isn't particularly memorable, but there are a few nice moments and it gives the array plenty to do. Clear reference material, it's excellent audio.
ExtrasWith little beyond a few stills and 'moments' from the film on the actual Ultra HD Blu-ray disc proper, it's the accompanying Region Free Blu-ray that provides the main extras, which are pretty comprehensive.
The accompanying Blu-ray provides the extras, which are pretty comprehensive
Headlined by a pair of Audio Commentaries - a strong solo one with the director, and a busy group one with the producer, VFX supervisor, and writers - there's also an overview Featurette on bringing the cartoon series to the Big Screen, and a couple of further Featurettes focusing on both the cast and, in particular, Hank Azaria's Gargamel. There are a selection of Deleted Scenes, a short Gag Reel, and some Effects shots, as well as a Music Montage, an Interactive Game, and some trailers.
Ultra HD Blu-ray VerdictWhilst not desperately imaginative, it's surprisingly fun
In the wake of the release of its fully-animated third outing, Smurfs: The Lost Village, we look back at the US 4K release of the first The Smurfs movie, which offers up excellent video and audio and a strong selection of extras.
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