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Review: 'Smurfs' returns to its roots with 'The Lost Village'

Posted Tuesday, July 11, 2017 at 4:20 PM Central
Last updated Friday, July 21, 2017 at 10:48 AM Central

by John Couture

As much as I appreciated the attempt to combine live-action and animation in the two recent Smurfs films, there was just something intrinsically wrong with seeing Smurfs interact with live actors. It's not that either film was inherently flawed per se, it's just that they lacked a bit of the mystique and panache of the original animated TV series.

I get it. Today's film environment has evolved to a place where a traditional animated Smurfs adventure would feel dated. The easiest way to make something new again is to introduce a new gimmick like live action and hope that it works.

It didn't. So, I was both hesitant and optimistic that the fully animated Smurfs: The Lost Village would capture the mystery and fun of the original series that I grew up watching. I will say this, The Lost Village is an improvement over the last two films, but there's still something missing from the execution that left me wanting more.

The film starts with an interesting premise, one that has confused and boggled the mind since The Smurfs made their debut. Why is there only one female Smurf?

It's perhaps a bit tongue-in-cheek, but Smurfette starts to feel on the outside looking in with the boy Smurfs. Thankfully, she just happens to have a run-in with a creature in the Forbidden Forest that she thinks might be a female Smurf from the Lost Village. Despite being called the Forbidden Forest, Smurfette and pals set out to find the Lost Village and these mysterious creatures.

Naturally, their sworn enemy Gargamel and his cat Azrael on hot on their trail and various dangers lie in their path. But, come on, this is The Smurfs, so we all know that any peril is short-lived and they will all sing and dance at the end. Spoiler alert, they do. But, it's not the destination that is the story here, but rather the journey and Smurfette's personal journey that steal the show.

I wouldn't call it a masterpiece by any standard, but it is a much better attempt than either of the live-action abominations that preceded it. Unfortunately, I think the biggest detriment to Smurfs: The Lost Village was the release last year of Trolls. Both films feature similar themes and pint-sized creatures that live in the woods, but Trolls feels fresher and its characters are more interesting than the same old Smurfs that we have seen over and over again.

That's not to say that the voices aren't dead on because they are. In fact, I would say that this voice cast is the best for a Smurfs movie to date. There's just something missing that Trolls had in spades. Given the proximity of their respective theatrical releases, I think it was too easy for audiences to see Smurfs: The Lost Village as a cheap ripoff of Trolls, even if it clearly was not.

Hopefully, with time, audiences will discover Smurfs: The Lost Village on home entertainment and judge it on its own merits. There is plenty to like here and this is by far the best big-screen version of the Smurfs. I was just hoping for a grandslam and I got a double instead.

Smurfs: The Lost Village is now available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD.