THE SMURFS 4k UHD and Blu-ray Review
In a magical land, there is a group of people called the Smurfs. They are happy, little blue people that live in mushrooms and they are named after their individual personalities. Their leader is Papa Smurf and he is also the protector of the village from the idiotic but mean Gargamel and his cat, Azrael. He is determined to collect the Smurfs to drain them of their essence and use it for magic. The trouble is that he doesn’t know where to find them because Papa has created an invisible barrier on the village to keep it hidden.
Clumsy Smurf is kind-hearted but he is constantly causing havoc around the village so he is sometimes left out of things. While prepping for the blue moon festival, Clumsy goes to collect some smurfroot and he runs in to Gargamel and Azrael. As he runs home, he accidentally shows them the way to the village. The two run in like mad to catch Smurfs and they all escape to the path they have planned if this ever happened. Of course, Clumsy goes down the wrong path and the magic of the blue moon creates a portal to the most magical city in the word…New York! Unfortunately, Gargamel and his feline follow the fleeing friends.
Raja Gosnell, who is best known for directing family movies like this and the sequel, THE SMURFS 2, directs THE SMURFS. The Smurfs themselves are voiced by some well-known actors and they all suit their character like Katy Perry as Smurfette and Anton Yelchin as Clumsy Smurf. Katy has this small voice that she can put on to make her seem more innocent and sweet. Anton always had a voice that makes him sound young and Clumsy’s character needs that. The real standout in the movie is Hank Azaria. His brand of comedy is with big movements, voices and his timing is great. It reminds me of some of the early stuff by Mel Brooks that is a lost art. You can tell that some of the comedy is off the cuff but he makes it seem so incredibly planned that he never missed a beat.
Hank Azaria as Gargamel
Neil Patrick Harris as Patrick “Pat” Winslow
Jayma Mays as Grace Winslow
Sofía Vergara as Odile Anjelou
Tim Gunn as Henri
Paula Pizzi as Odile’s Mother
Anton Yelchin as Clumsy Smurf.
Jonathan Winters as Papa Smurf
Katy Perry as Smurfette
Fred Armisen as Brainy Smurf
Alan Cumming as Gutsy Smurf
George Lopez as Grouchy Smurf
The video on the Blu-ray is a 1080p AVC presentation. With most of the main characters being CG, the animation has to be spot on. When it comes to the Smurfs themselves, the images and movements are clean. They don’t look like cartoons next to whatever is in the foreground. The details are strong and stand out in just about any scene, including the nighttime scenes. The skins tones for the real people come off as natural and warm. The only time that the CGI becomes unreal is when it is mixed with a real object such as Azrael or the scene with Sofia Vargara’s mother. It looks falsely layered and poorly painted with some sort of smudge technique but this doesn’t completely detract from the movie.
The video on the 4k UHD is a 2160p HEVC presentation. The first thing that you notice is the depth of the opening scenes. The images aren’t flat and with a layered background that moves smoothly with the moving camera. The textures of the Smurfs’ skin are easy to see on the normal Blu-ray but on the 4k UHD, it is realistic. You can also see that their clothing looks like it is made out of linen material and the individual stitching. The coloring leaps off of the screen with not only the blues but also the red of the mushrooms and the greens of the woods. On the 4k disc, the issues I mentioned above are even more apparent but, again, they don’t take away from the viewing experience. Minus the little issues, both discs have excellent transfers.
The audio on the Blu-ray is a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix. This makes for stronger LFEs than the mix on the 4k disc but I’ll get to that. These LFEs come in at the right moments when the box calls for it and there are some scenes that sound excellent from the well-timed punch of the subwoofer. The highs are also clear with clean dialogue and effect that have been amazing reproduced properly. There is a good amount of ambient sound in the middle of the city because NYC is a busy place.
The audio on the 4k UHD disc is a Dolby Atmos mix that defaults to a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix for previous gen receivers. The Atmos mix creates a realistic sense of the city being alive. There is sweeping motion and movement of objects in a way that is seldom heard on even the best 7.1 mixes. The bass and treble is also clean on this transfer like on the regular Blu-ray edition.
SUPPLEMENTS & PACKAGING
-Audio Commentary: Director Raja Gosnell.
-Audio Commentary: Producer Jordan Kerner; Writers J. David Stem, David N. Weiss, Jay Scherick, and David Ronn; and VFX Supervisor Richard Hoover.
-Smurf-O-Vision: Second Screen Experience: This is a second-screen experience with the use of an IOS device. You sync up the app and the film so the kids can have a little fun while watching the movie.
-The Smurfs Fantastic Adventure Game: The extra is a game where you rescue Papa Smurf from Gargamel.
-The Smurfs: Comic Book to the Big Screen: The filmmakers and the effects department look at the comic strip that The Smurfs are based upon.
-Smurf Speak: Meet the Cast: This featurette has the voice cast speaking about the movie.
-Going Gargamel: This featurette focuses on Hank Azaria as Gargamel with the cast and crew discussing his character. Comedic genius, that’s all I’m saying.
-Blue-Pers: This is a gag reel.
-Happy Music Montage
-Deleted and Extended Scenes
2-disc set w/1 4k UHD and 1 Blu-ray
1080p AVC MPEG-4
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
French (Canada) Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Catalan Dolby Digital 5.1
German Dolby Digital 5.1
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Mandarin – Simplified
Mandarin – Traditional
2160p HEVC H.265
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
THE BOTTOM LINE:
THE SMURFS is a cute family movie and the writers didn’t hesitate to throw in a few adult jokes. The little blue folk from my childhood are incredibly cute and the CG work makes you want to hug one. As for the transfers, the Blu-ray is excellent but the 4k UHD is superb. The film looks insanely clean and the skin textures as well as the colors on the Smurfs really pop. The audio is also strong but appropriate where it needs to be. There is a decent set of extras to round off this release and of you’re looking to upgrade your copy, this is well worth it.