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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!

 

The Smurfs and the Magic Flute (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

July 8, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The 1976 animated film classic “The Smurfs and the Magic Flute” finally makes its way onto DVD!  Directed by Smurfs creator Peyo, this family film will entertain young and the young at heart!

Images courtesy of © LAFIG. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: The Smurfs and the Magic Flute

THEATRICAL DATE: 1976

DURATION: 71 Minutes

INFO: Windowboxed,  Stereo

COMPANY: Shout! Factory

RATED: General Audiences

RELEASE DATE: August 14, 2012

Directed by Peyo

Adaptation by Peyo, Yvan Delporte

Based on the characters and comic book by Peyo

Music by Michel Legrand

Edited by Nebiha Ben Milad, Michele Neny

Art Direction by Paulette Melloul

Featuring the voices of:

Richard Ashley

Ed Devereaux

Harry Dickman

Paul Felber

Michael Fields

Kalman Glass

Stuart Lock

Anna Macleod

Durga McBroom

Vernon Morris

Bill Owen

Richard Pescud

A magical flute is just what Court Jester Peewit needs to play delightful tunes that make everyone in the kingdom dance – until the dancing turns dangerous. Sir Johan tries in vain to recover the musical instrument, but a thief named McCreep beats him to it, intending to use the flute to steal gold from the King’s subjects. It’s the Smurfs-to-the-rescue when Papa Smurf devises a plan to create a second magical flute, and Peewit and Sir Johan go on a great adventure to find McCreep, win the musical duel and save the kingdom!

Generations have grown up with “The Smurfs” as far back as of 1958.  Originally created as a Belgian comic strip by cartoonist Peyo (pen name for Pierre Culliford), the origins of the Smurfs began in the comic series “Johan and Peewit”.

“Johan and Peewit” revolved around a brave young knight named Johan, who is often trying to keep his friend Peewit (a practical joker and terrible musician and singer) out of trouble.  The setting of “Johan and Peewit” is around the middle ages, during the time where a king ruled and sword-and-sorcery existed.

A story titled “The Flute with Six Holes” was published in 1958 in Spirou Magazine and this story was the first to introduced the smurfs.  And sure enough, the characters became so popular that the Smurfs received their own storyline a year later in the same magazine.

And since then, the Smurf franchise has continued to be a successful worldwide, including here in America thanks to the comic books, animated series and toys.

Back in 1976, the film “The Smurfs and the Magic Flute”, directed by Peyo, was released in the theaters.  The Belgian film would later be released in theaters in the UK in 1979 and later in America in 1983.  And the film would become a box office winner in the U.S., grossing over $11 million dollars, the highest for a non-Disney animated film (until the 1985 animated film “The Care Bears Movie” would best the record).

While the film was released on VHS and LaserDisc back in 1984, the film has not been released in America on DVD until now.

In August 2012, “The Smurfs and the Magic Flute” will be released on DVD courtesy of Shout! Factory.  It’s important to note that this release is the UK version, so names of Johan are John and Peewit’s name has been changed to William.  Other name changes include Grouchy Smurf, who’s name is now Grumpy and Hefty Smurf was changed to “Strong-Man Smurf”.

“The Smurfs and the Magic Flute” takes place in the Middle Ages and a merchant has come by to sell music instruments to William, the court jester.  But known for being a terrible musician and singer, the king dismisses the merchant and in the process, the merchant forgets his flute with six holes.

The king discovering the flute decides to throw it into his fireplace before Peewit can find it.  But when he does, a green smoke starts coming from the flute.

Peewit discovers the smoke and puts out the fire, only to discover the flute and starts to play it.  But when he does play it, everyone starts dancing.

Meanwhile, a man named Matthew McCreep has learned from the merchant of how the merchant left his special flute in the castle and immediately, McCreep goes to the castle and steals the flute from Peewit.

Because the flute can be used for evil by rendering people to fall asleep, the king sends his knight Johan and Peewit to find Matthew McCreep and retrieve the flute before McCreep can use it to put people to sleep and rob them of their money.  But McCreep uses the flute against them and is able to escape.

Needing some help against McCreep, both John and William visit Homnibus, the wizard, who tells them that the flute was created by the Smurfs and in order to get a new one to counteract McCreep’s flute, they must to to the village using his spell.

So, Homnibus sends both Johan and Peewit to the Smurfs and hope that Papa Smurf can craft a new magical flute for them, in order to stop McCreep.  Meanwhile, McCreep has used the magic flute to steal over 7,000 gold pieces and now wants to hire people with the money he has made to create an army and go to war against the king.

Can John and William convince the Smurfs to create a new magic flute?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“The Smurfs and the Magic Flute” is presented in 1:85:1.  In truth, the film is actually letterboxed.  So,  The original animation was created with a monaural mix and made in color (eastmancolor).  The video quality looks good considering the animated film is over 35-years-old but by no means perfect.  There is edge enhancement used, thus the stair-stepping on the edges, .there are also many white specks.  Fortunately, the white specks are small and the edge enhancement is no surprise for a DVD release.  But with that being said,   the film does look good on DVD.

But while the film was released on DVD in the UK, it was also released ala HD on Blu-ray.  And one can see the criticism that the UK Blu-ray release received, so I’m not surprised that the HD treatment for “The Smurfs and the Magic Flute” is not happening in the US.  But a transfer would definitely give us better detail and clarity, but I’m sure the white specks and possibly the edge enhancement would cause some videophiles to be cautious of a Blu-ray release for the US.

But overall, the Shout! Factory DVD release is still a long awaited DVD that fans have wanted.  The animation still holds up very well in 2012.  The painted backgrounds are beautiful to look at and the animation manages to bring Peyo’s character designs and artwork from the comic strip to animated film.

While colors are good, the Smurfs are a bit darker shade of blue than the TV series but I did enjoy how beautiful the background art was and it is a very color film and for children watching it, I’m sure they will enjoy it.

As for the audio, the animated film presented in the Shout! Cast DVD version is the UK version, not the American dub version.   So, aside from the name changes made in the UK release, the audio quality can be heard, but I can see some people hoping subtitles were included, as some Smurfs may be difficult for some listeners.

The British accents aren’t difficult to understand but some viewers may be disappointed that English subtitles are not included and that some Smurfs talk with a high pitch voice.  So, the voices of the Smurfs, including Papa Smurf is far from what people may be familiar with him, if they watched the animated TV series or even the live-action film.

I have never heard the American English dub but I didn’t mind the British dubbing at all.  As long as you get over the voices that one must be used to hearing in the American airing of the animated series of the ’80s, I wasn’t disturbed by it.  But for those who did grow up with the original film with the American dub, I can understand if they are disappointed that the American English dub was not included.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Smurfs and the Magic Flute” comes with the following special feature:

  • The Smurfs’ Story – A text-based page about “The Smurfs and the Magic Flute”.
  • Character Guide – A text-based guide on the primary characters of “The Smurfs and the Magic Flute”.
  • Glossary of Smurf Terms – A text based guide on smurf terms such as “a smurf”, “to smurf”, “to get smurfing”, “to be smurfed”, etc.
  • About the Smurfs – A text based guide about the Smurfs.
  • Gallery – Artwork for “The Smurfs and the Magic Flute”.

Before there was Gargamel, before the appearance of Smurfette and before “The Smurfs” would air on television back in 1981, there was the animated film, “The Smurfs and the Magic Flute”.

This classic animated film that was directed by Smurfs creator Peyo and premiered in Belgium back in 1976 was a hit in several countries, including the United States.

But for many of us who grew up with the animated series, it’s important to remember that before the Smurfs was a series or a comic book strip, Peyo conceived Johan and Peewit, his two popular characters that he created before the Smurfs.  So, in many ways, as the Smurfs made their first introduction back in ’58, this animated film was to celebrate his two characters plus the Smurfs being brought to the big screen via in animated form.  And so, the best way to explain to fans of “The Smurfs” who grew up with the ’80s animated series is to forget about how you imagined the Smurfs, especially the voices, when viewing this animated film.

For one, the film utilizes the 1979 UK version of the English dub, so Papa Smurf and all the other characters speak with a British accent.  While I never saw the original and knew that the voice acting would be different from the voices that I was accustomed to back in the ’80s, I was not bothered by the fact the characters spoke with a British accent.  But I know those who did watch the film back in 1984, would probably be the viewers who would feel disappointed that the DVD did not included the American English dub.

And another reason for some fans to be disappointed was the name changes used in the UK dub.  On the DVD cover and on the character guide of the special features, there are references to Sir Johan and the court jester Peewit, but for the UK version, Johan became John and Peewit became William.  And some Smurfs names have been changed as well.

But as far as quality goes, the film does look good considering the age of this film and I doubt that this film will receive extensive restoration considering the costs involved to remove all white specks in each frame.  And while the UK “Smurf” fans did receive a Blu-ray release (from another company), due to the criticism the UK release had for its quality, not sure if the Blu-ray would be released in the U.S. As for special features, it would have been nice to have a featurette but most of the special features are text-based aside from the gallery which are images.

As for parents who are curious about purchasing the film for their child, the film is safe.  My 9-year-old son watched this film along with me and he enjoyed it.  He didn’t grow up watching the TV series like I did, but because of the live-action film and the iPad game, that is where he is familiar with the Smurfs and for the most part, he enjoyed the film.  And he did recognize characters from the live action film that are on “The Smurfs and the Magic Flute”.

Overall, I know that aside from parents purchasing this DVD for their children, there are Smurf fans who have been wanting this DVD to be released in America.  While some may object to the UK dub being used (especially because of the British accents and the name changes), this is probably the only way people will get a chance to watch “The Smurfs and the Magic Flute”.

So, while this may not be what some “Smurf” fans have wanted, those who have been waiting a long time for this DVD release and are open-minded or parents wanting a safe animated film for their children, will enjoy this DVD release of “The Smurfs and the Magic Flute”.

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