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Smurfs: The Lost Village (a J!-ENT 4K Ultra HD Review)

July 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

For those who enjoy the Smurfs and videophile/audiophile parents looking for an animated film that looks great in 4K Ultra HD, who also want to entertain their children or the entire family, you can’t go wrong with “Smurfs: The Lost Village”. Recommended for the entire family!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Smurfs: Lost Village

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 90 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 2160p Ultra High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio), English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Compatible), English – Audio Description Track, Catalan, Cantonese, Mandarin, Danish, Dutch (Netherlands), finnish, French, German, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Vietnamese 5.1 Dolby Digital, SUBTITLES: English, English SDH, French, Arabic, Cantonese, Chinese, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Indonesian/Bahasa, Korean, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese

COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG (Some Mild Action and Rude Humor)

RELEASE DATE: July 11, 2017


Based on the Characters by Peyo

Directed by Kelly Asbury

Written by Stacey Harman, Pamela Ribbon

Producer: Mary Ellen Bauder, Jordan Kerner

Co-Producer: Veronique Culliford, Mandy Tankenson

Executive Producer: Raja Gosnell, Ben Waisbren

Co-Executive Producer: Ben Haber

Music by Christopher Lennertz

Edited by Bret Marnell

Casting by Mary Hidalgo

Production Design by Noelle Triaureau

Art Direction by Dean Gordon, Marcel Vignali


Starring:

Demi Lovato as Smurfette

Rainn Wilson as Gargamel

Joe Manganiello as Hefty Smurf

Jack McBrayer as Clumsy Smurf

Danny Pudi as Brainy Smurf

Mandy Patinkin as Papa Smurf

Dee Bradley Baker as Monty

Frank Welker as Azrael

Michelle Rodriguez as SmurfStorm

Ellie Kemper as SmurfBlossom

Julia Roberts as SmurfWillow

Ariel Winter as SmurfLily

Meghan Trainor as SmurfMelody

Bret Marnell as Snappy Bug

Brandon Jeffords as Cauldron

Kelly Asbury as Nosey Smurf

Jake Johnson as Grouchy Smurf

Gabrielle Iglesias as Jokey Smurf

Tituss Burgess as Vanity Smurf


In this fully animated, all-new take on the Smurfs, a mysterious map sets Smurfette and her best friends Brainy, Clumsy and Hefty on an exciting and thrilling race through the Forbidden Forest filled with magical creatures to find a mysterious lost village before the evil wizard Gargamel does. Embarking on a roller coaster journey full of action and danger, the Smurfs are on a course that leads to the discovery of THE biggest secret in Smurf history!


Back in the late ’50s, Belgian cartoonist Peyo created the comic strips featuring small blue fictional characters known as the Smurfs. A big success in France, the Smurfs would receive various adaptations.

The first were in Belgium via TV animated shorts that were created in 1961-1967, a few of the shorts would be featured in the 1965 in the black-and-white animation “Les Adventures des Schtroumpfs” and then followed by a 1976 animation titled “La Flûte à six schtroumpfs” (The Smurfs and the Magic Flute) which would receive an English version that would inspire more full-length Smurf animated films.

But in America, where the Smurfs gained its popularity is through the 1981 animated TV series which was nominated many times for a Daytime Emmy Award and won the “Outstanding Children’s Entertainment Series” for 1982-1983. The animated series would broadcast on television through 1989.

In 1997, producer Jordan Kerner has been trying to get a “Smurfs” film created but it wasn’t until 2002 when Peyo’s heirs accepted Kerner’s offer and people were able to get their first look at the film via leaked footage on the Internet in 2008.

And in 2011, the first live-action/CG Smurf film of a planned trilogy was released in theaters in 2011. The film which was budgeted for $110 million received lackadaisical reviews from film critics but the film was popular among the younger viewers and earned over $559 million in the box office ensuring the film as a success for Columbia Pictures which would ensure a sequel.

In 2013, “Smurfs 2” would go on to earn over $374 million in the box office, making it another success.

But wanting to create a full 3D CG animated film, the film series was rebooted (now no longer featuring the live action portion), this film (unrelated to the previous two films) is directed by Kelly Asbury (“Shrek 2”, “Gnomeo & Juliet”) and co-written by Stacey Harman (“The Goldbergs”) and Pamela Ribon (“Moana”, “Samantha Who?”, “Bears”) and the film would go on to make $194.7 million in the box office.

And now “Smurfs: The Lost Village” will be released on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD in July 2017.  The version I am reviewing is the 4K Ultra HD version which comes with the Blu-ray and an UltraViolet Digital Code.

In this latest film, we are introduced to the story of Smurfette, the only girl in the Smurf Village and how she was created by the wicked wizard Gargamel from a lump of clay.  Despite being created for the purpose of evil (as he in search of the Smurf village to steal all of their essences to become the most powerful wizard in the world), she was given a chance by Papa Smurf and became part of the village.

One day, Brainy Smurf is creating an invention that can determine one’s energy.  As Hefty Smurf was tested, the invention showed that his energy was strength and Brainy was able to extract that into a liquid.  But when tested on Smurfette, because she isn’t a true Smurf, she drew in energy and so the invention didn’t work on her.

As Smurfette, Brainy, Hefty and Clumsy Smurf go out for some playtime, while flying out with a leaf, a gust of wind carries her to the Forbidden Forest where she crashes.  Smurfette sees a smurf watching her and it runs off past the wall leading to the Forbidden Forest.

But when Smurfette tells the three of what she saw, she is grabbed by Gargamel’s vulture, Monty back to his lair.

This leads Brainy, Hefty and Clumsy to go on a rescue mission to save Smurfette and when they get her out to go to the village, they want to tell Papa Smurf about her discovery.  But when Papa Smurf forbids them and punishes them for going out there, the four sneak out to search if there is a “LostVillage”of Smurfs aside from theirs.


VIDEO:

“Smurfs: Lost Village” receives its first 4K Ultra HD release and this latest animation is fantastic.  Presented in 2160p (1:85:1 aspect ratio), it’s a different style compared to the previous two films which tries to add skin texturing but for the most part, the animation is done very well with great hair physics and for the most part, it’s an animation style that is respectful to Peyo’s original work and also for those who remember the animated series.   Meanwhile, environments are well-rendered with amazing detail.  The picture quality of this film is fantastic!

IMPORTANT TO KNOW: To watch 4K Ultra HD, you will need a 4K UHD TV with HDR and an Ultra HD Blu-ray Player + a high-speed HDMI 2.0A Cable.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

Audio quality is equally impressive. Presented in English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Compatible), English – Audio Description Track, Catalan, Cantonese, Mandarin, Danish, Dutch (Netherlands), Finnish, French, German, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Vietnamese 5.1 Dolby Digital.

Considering that this animated film has a good number of action sequences, the lossless audio utilizes the surround channels.  Dialogue and music are crystal clear, while action sequences sound magnificent through the surround channels.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French, Arabic, Cantonese, Chinese, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Indonesian/Bahasa, Korean, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish and Vietnamese.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Smurfs: The Lost village” on 4K Ultra HD comes with the following special features:

  • Emoji Sneak Peak – (2:04) A sneak peek for the upcoming “Emoji” film.
  • Filmmaker Commentary– Featuring audio commentary by director Kelly Asbury and Allan Hawkins (Animation Supervisor) and Brandon Jeffords (Head of Story).
  • Deleted Scenes – (7:35) Featuring four deleted scenes.
  • Kids at Heart! The Making of Smurfs: The Lost Village – (9:09) The making of “Smurfs: The Lost Village” and behind-the-scenes at Sony Pictures Animation.
  • The Lost Auditions – (4:07) Voice talents auditioning for other Smurf roles.
  • Demi Lovato Meets Smurfette – (:58) Smurfette interviews Demi Lovato.
  • Lost Village Dance Song  – (3:10) Featuring children dancing to the “Lost Village Dance Song”.
  • Smurfify Your Nails – (2:18) A featurette on how to smurfify nails.
  • Baker Smurf’s Mini Kitchen – (4:05)  A featurette featuring Baker Smurf narrating one preparing a baked dish.
  • Meghan Trainor “I’m a Lady Music Video”
  • Making the Song “You Will Always find Me In Your Heart” – (3:00) Christopher Lennertz discuss making the music for a certain scene.
  • The Sound of The Smurfs – (3:42) Kelly Asbury and Christopher Lennertz discuss the music for Smurfs: The Lost Village”.
  • Draw Your Favorite Smurfs – (7:40) How to draw various Smurf characters.
  • See More Smurfs! – (5:48) “Smurf” film trailers

EXTRAS:

“Smurfs: The Lost Village” comes with a slipcover, both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray disc and an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


Having grown up with watching “Smurfs” on television and reading the comics, and since 2011, it was cool to watch the films alongside my young son who pretty much grew up not with the animated films but the two previous films.

And he were are now in 2017, we have an animated film which will no doubt entertain families but I feel it’s a film that is much easier for me, as an adult to watch, versus watching Smurf and human collaborations onscreen.

Part of the entertaining factor of the original series is the adventures that the Smurfs are involved in and the various characters to work with.  While “Smurfs: The Lost Village” features primarily Smurfette, Brainy Smurf, Hefty Smurf and Clumsy Smurf, the film does a great job of incorporating other Smurfs but most importantly answers a question of what if there is a village of other Smurfs out there?

What if Smurfette wasn’t the only female Smurf around?

And sure enough, “Smurfs: The Lost Village” is quite fun to watch because we see another village but instead of all male, it’s all female.  And similar to Papa Smurf and his village of male smurfs, we see Mama Smurf and her village of female smurfs.  And needless to say, it makes for a fun, entertaining story.

As always, Gargamel is the primary antagonist.  Still trying to search for Smurfs to capture their essence in order to make him a powerful wizard.  Sure there is quite a bit of peril and rude humor (thanks to Gargamel) that raises the rating to PG but parents watching alongside their children need not worry at all.  It’s a great animated film that the entire family can enjoy!

As for the 4K Ultra HD presentation, animation is fantastic.  While much different compared to the previous two films, this time around, the animated film is much truer to Peyo’s work.  Especially for those who grew up watching the animated series.  Movements and hair physics to the way the characters move were well-animated and the detail of environments are full of detail.  In fact, this film looks absolutely vibrant in HD.

The lossless soundtrack is just as impressive.  Featuring crystal clear dialogue and music but also great use of the surround channels during the action sequences.  And last, there are a good number of special features included as well.

Overall, for those who enjoy the Smurfs and videophile/audiophile parents looking for an animated film that looks great in 4K Ultra HD, who also want to entertain their children or the entire family, you can’t go wrong with “Smurfs: The Lost Village”.  Recommended for the entire family!

 

Gnomeo & Juliet (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

“Gnomeo & Juliet” is a charming and fun family film!  While some may not have a care towards garden gnomes, if you can get over that, I personally have found the animation for the film to be well-done and its storyline inspired by Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet” was well-executed especially for the younger children who may be watching.

Images courtesy of © 2011 Buena Vista Home Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Gnomeo & Juliet

DURATION: 84 minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HD MA (48 kHz/24-bit), Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

RATED: G

COMPANY: Touchstone Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: May 24, 2011

Inspired by the William Shakespeare Play “Romeo & Juliet”

Directed by Kelly Asbury

Story by Rob Sprackling, John r. Smith, Andy Riley, Kevin Cecil, Kelly Asbury and Steve Hamilton Shaw

Screenplay by Andy Riley, Kevin Cecil, Mark Burton, Emily Cook, Kathy Greenberg, Steve Hamilton Shaw, Kelly Asbury

Original Screenplay by Rob Sprackling, John R. Smith

Producer: Baker Bloodworth, David Furnish

Executive Producer: Elton John

Producer: Steve Hamilton Shaw

Co-Producer: Igor Khait

Associate Producer: Kara Lord

Music by Chris Bacon, James Newton Howard, Elton John

Edited by Catherine Apple

Castin by Gail Stevens

Production Design by Karen deJong

Art Direction: Karen DeJong, Andrew Woodhouse

FEATURING THE VOICES OF:

James McAvoy as Gnomeo

Emily Blunt as Juliet

Ashley Jensen as Nanette

Michael Caine as Lord Redbrick

Matt Lucas as Benny

Jim Cummins as Featherstone

Maggie Smith as Lady Bluebury

Jason Statham as Tybalt

Ozzy Osbourne as Fawn

Stephen Merchant as Paris

Patrick Stewart as Bill Shakespeare

Julie Walters as Miss Montague

Hulk Hogan as Terrafirminator

Kelly Asbury as Red Good Gnomes

Richard Wilson as Mr. Capulet

Dolly Parton as Dolly Gnome

From a director of Shrek 2 comes your chance to step into the secret world of garden gnomes — Gnomeo & Juliet. Perfect for the whole family, this fresh and funny makeover of one of the world’s most timeless stories features music from Sir Elton John, and the voice talents of Emily Blunt, James McAvoy and Sir Michael Caine. Caught up in a feud between neighbors, Gnomeo and Juliet must overcome as many obstacles as their namesakes. But with flamboyant pink flamingos and epic lawnmower races, can this young couple find lasting happiness? Complete with hilarious never-before-seen bonus features, Gnomeo & Juliet is an out-of-the-ordinary animated comedy your entire family will love. We just gnome it!


Charming, delightful and fun for the entire family!

In Feb. 2011, Touchstone Pictures first animated feature since “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993) titled “Gnomeo & Juliet” was released in the U.S.  The film topped the worldwide box office earning over $176 million.

But “Gnomeo & Juliet” was a film that has been in limbo for many years.  Originally to be produced by Walt Disney, the film would exchange hands with Miramax Films but eventually was picked up and produced by Starz Animation in Toronto and released by Touchstone Pictures.

Directed by Kelly Asbury (“Shrek 2”, “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron”), the film would be inspired by William Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet” and would feature voices by talent which include Emily Blunt, James McAvoy, Sir Michael Caine, Patrick Stewart, Jason Statham, Ashley Jensen, Ozzy Osbourne, Julie Walters, Hulk Hogan, Dolly Parton and many more.

And now the film will be released on Blu-ray ala 3D (includes Blu-ray 3D and 2D, DVD and Digital Copy), a 2-Disc set with Blu-ray DVD and a normal DVD version.

In the film, Mrs. Montague (played by Juliet Walters) and Mr. Capulet (played by Richard Wilson) were a couple who now despise each other.  Now each live next door to each other and Mrs. Montague’s yard is filled with blue garden gnomes, while Mr. Capulet’s garden has red garden gnomes.   When the two are away, the gardens come alive and both blue and red gnomes despise each other as well.

But its time for the lawnmower race and representing the blue gnomes is Gnomeo  (voiced by James McAvoy) and for the red gnomes is Tybalt (voiced by Jason Statham).  While Gnomeo was about to win, Tybalt cheats and wins the race.

Gnomeo and his friend Benny (voiced by Matt Lucas) are upset and insult Tybalt for cheating and now the two want revenge.

So, both Gnomeo and Benny try to infiltrate the red garden with a disguise.  Their plan, to spray paint the red lawnmower with blue paint.  And Gnomeo nearly accomplishes their goal but Benny accidentally sprays Tybalt’s well and a security light is activated, which alerts the red gnomes that they the blue gnomes has infiltrated the garden.

Fortunately for both Gnomeo and Benny, the two escape but Gnomeo ends up in a different garden and accidentally runs into the red gnome named Juliet (voiced by Emily Blunt), the daughter of Lord Redbrick (voiced by Michael Caine) of the red gnomes.

Immediately, Gnomeo becomes smitten with Juliet and she with Gnomeo.  For Juliet, she can’t help but confess her love of Gnomeo to her friend, a frog named Nanette (voiced by Ashley Jensen).  The two continue to see each other by planning secret meetings.

But both may be pulled apart as tensions mount between the blue and red gnomes.  Will the love between Gnomeo and Juliet remain strong despite their people despising each other and may fight against each other?  Or will they be separated and looking at each other as enemies?

“Gnomeo & Juliet” features music by Elton John with collaborations with Lady GaGa and Nelly Furtado.

VIDEO:

“Gnomeo & Juliet” is presented in 1080p High Definition Widescreen (1:85:1).  I’m not too familiar with the work of Starz Animation (Arc Productions) but what I can say about “Gnomeo & Juliet” is that one would want to see these characters show detail of their wooden ornamentation.  So, while these garden gonmes to come to life, the animation is able to capture these characters but also showing the detail of their wooden surface.  In fact, there are scenes where you can see wooden surfaces that are wet with water and it’s soaked to paint that has come off the wood.   I was very pleased by how the CG was rendered for each character and the Blu-ray brings out those details.

You can see the dirt and grime including chips on the gnomes but also see the detail of the road, the ground, the trees and grass, even when Juliet is wearing a sock, you can see the cotton fibers.   I was quite pleased by the film’s overalll look on Blu-ray.  The film is vibrant and picture quality is very good!  Blacks are also nice and deep and once again, you can compare the DVD included with the Blu-ray and noticed how much detail you are able to see when watching in HD.

AUDIO:

“Gnomeo & Juliet” is presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD MA (48 kHz/24-bit) and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound.  The lossless soundtrack was very well done.   From the more action-based sequences, there is a good use of the surround channels including moments that the LFE was used.  Also, because there is a lot of music utilized throughout the film, you can hear the music being utilized on the surround channels as well.  And if you are familiar with the Elton John musical classics, you will definitely enjoy how his music was utilized in the film.

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Gnomeo & Juliet” comes with the following special features:

  • Elton Builds a Garden – (5:47) How Elton John played a big part in the film and how he had been in the process of the varying production process.
  • 2 Alternate Endings – Featuring two alternate endings (sketches) with commentary at the beginning.  The following is in standard definition.  Alternate Ending 1 – All’s Well That Ends Well (1:34) and Alternate Ending 2 – Dance Routine (1:29).
  • Deleted & Alternate Scenes – (42:25) Featuring alternate opening sequence and seven deleted scenes with filmmakers introduction commentary.  Presented in standard definition.
  • Frog Talk with Ashley Jensen – (1:46) Actress Ashley Jensen talks about doing her first animated role and providing the voice of Nanette the frog.
  • Crocodile Rock Music Video – (1:32) Featuring the recording of “Crocodile Rock” with Nelly Furtado and Elton John.
  • The Fawn of Darkness – (1:29) Ozzy Osbourne talks about doing a voice of a fawn.

EXTRAS:

“Gnomeo & Juliet” comes with a slip cover case.

“Gnomeo & Juliet” is a charming, fun, family film.

But I also believe that for one to be open to it, it being the “garden gnome”.  It’s one thing for a CG animated film to come out and have fresh, unique characters and sure, animated films such as “Toy Story” are able to capture one’s imagination because everyone grew up with toys.  But not everyone grows up with having garden gnomes in their garden.

Elton John even said on the special features of how garden gnomes are popular in the UK and I would assume that they are popular in Europe, especially in Germany where they first originated in the 19th century.  According to Wikipedia, the first garden gnomes were made in Grafenroda and a man named Philip Gribel made terracotta animals as decorations (which are featured in the film) and produced garden gnomes (which many are featured in the film) based on local myths as a way for people to enjoy the stories of the gnomes willingness to help in the garden at night.

It quickly spread across Europe wherever gardening was  a serious hobby.  And once in awhile, you will drive and see someone in America having one in their garden, some having more than others.

While many people are unaware of the history of garden gnomes, I know when commercials came out, my little one was wondering why there was an animation on small people.  I told him they were garden gnomes…statues in the garden that come to life and he gave me a dumbfounded look. Until I told him that people put pranks on them and people dress them up with weird clothing or bring them along on vacation trips where people take a picture of them… and then he became amused.

I think that there are people who may feel the same way in the US, of why a film was created using garden gnomes?  I suppose if there a movie about spy hamsters, ninja turtles or dogs with super powers can be made to films, why not garden gnomes.  OK, I understand that spies, ninjas and super powers are cool but this movie is not too ridiculous as one may think.

There is a storyline which is inspired by William Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet”, blue gnomes and red gnomes who despise each other (and no, this was not done to emulate Los Angeles gangs) but these garden gnomes have personality.  Like the Montague’s and the Capulets, these garden gnomes are constantly at each other’s throats until Gnomeo of the blue and Juliet of the red fall for each other.

And of course, because this is a children’s film, it has to have a happy ending.

But I was open to the film, the whole garden gnome character and without any feeling of “oh, garden gnomes, this movie is going to suck” mentality, I watched it and I was impressed by the animation.  The garden gnomes, even when alive, look like their real-life counterparts with grime, aged dirt, chips on them.  But also seeing closeups of the road, the wood and all these textures to make things more realistic was quite impressive.  Granted, you’re not going to have the Pixar color pallette of everything so vibrant but yet, this film holds up well on its own for being a modern animated Disney-related film.

I also liked the voice talent that were involved in the film.   You can tell which voice was Dolly Parton, Patrick Stewart, Hulk Hogan and Ozzy Osbourne but it was good to see talent such as Emily Blunt, James McAvoy, Jason Statham and Ashley Jensen involved in the film as well.  Their performances were well-done and with the music of Elton John, you have this sense that the film an International feel to it.  Which is good considering the fact that garden gnomes are popular overseas.

As for the Blu-ray release, it’s important to remind people that if you have a 3D-enabled TV and Blu-ray player, then you may want to check out the 3D version which comes with both the 3D, 2D, DVD and digital copy version of the film.  For this release that I am reviewing, it comes with the Blu-ray and DVD release and it makes a very good family film to take on those long commutes as summer vacation is around the corner.  The picture and audio quality is very good and there are a few short special features that are fun and amusing and are included in this release as well.

Overall, “Gnomeo & Juliet” was a film that I enjoyed.  If one has negative feelings towards garden gnomes, I’m sure that’s going to affect one’s appreciation for this family film.  But if you could care less and just want a film that young and old can watch together, then “Gnomeo & Juliet” is a film worth checking out!

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