Smurfs: The Lost Village (2017)

3:25 PM

They were never alone.
 Smurfs: The Lost Village is directed by Kelly Asbury (Gnomeo & Juliet, Shrek 2) and features the voices of Demi Lovato (Princess Protection Program, Glee), Joe Manganiello (Magic Mike XXL, How I Met Your Mother), Jack McBrayer (Wreck-it Ralph, 30 Rock), Rainn Wilson (The Office, Juno) and Julia Roberts (Notting Hill, Closer). "In this fully animated, all-new take on the Smurfs, a mysterious map sets Smurfette and her friends Brainy, Clumsy and Hefty on an exciting race through the Forbidden Forest leading to the discovery of the biggest secret in Smurf history". Sony is doing to The Smurfs series what they are doing to Spider-Man - will this revamp be as successful as the latter seems to be?

Smurfs: The Lost Village has flopped at the box office which isn't surprising as it's an all-round mediocre (being generous) film. I don't really know why we needed yet another Smurfs movie - the previous one flopped after the mega success of the 2011 adaption. Sony Animation have revamped the series by going all-animation and assembling a new cast. I have to say, I think these characters worked better in a live action setting with the previous cast. Even though the film has some truly awful moments, it also has some sweet and nice ones making it at least watchable (for children or mega Smurfs fans). 

The voice cast were ok. Demi Lovato gets top billing as Smurfette and does a good job. I've never thought of Lovato as a brilliant actress but she's definitely got some powerful singing chops - I'm surprised they didn't turn this into a musical once they got her cast. Sony tried to replicate their previous successes with both animation and The Smurfs with this casting - Katy Perry previously voiced Smurfette and Selena Gomez is a driving force of the Hotel Transylvania franchise. However, Lovato doesn't have the star power of either of those two and simply doesn't do as good of a job. Lovato is probably the best thing in this film however but I suppose that's not too hard when she's voicing a character as likeable and adorable as Smurfette. For the rest of the voice cast, I couldn't help but feel like they all phoned it in - none of the characters really had chemistry and none of the other Smurfs were actually that memorable or distinguishable. One voice did stand out to me and that was Julia Roberts - however, I can't work out whether that was because I recognised the voice and could't put my finger on it or because she was doing a good job. Nevertheless, her voice sounded warm and caring which were the qualities of her character, SmurfWillow. Finally, the voice of Gargamel - Rainn Wilson. Wilson does a really could Neil Patrick Harris impression because for a large part of the film, I thought it was Harris as the voice sounded exactly the same as Count Olaf's in A Series of Unfortunate Events. I actually think Harris would have done an excellent job as Gargamel - I don't know why he didn't play him in the live action version! Anyway, back to Wilson - he was fine but I just couldn't help but wish the character was being played by someone else. Speaking of sound, towards the first half of the film, there is noticeably hardly any score and it just made the scenes feel rather awkward and made the sound mixing not feel as smooth. 

I feel like Sony Pictures Animation has a style to it that is deliberately low quality - the Hotel Transylvania films are well animated but don't have a patch on Disney or Pixar and I have to say, the same applies with Smurfs: The Lost Village. For a while, I actually thought the animation was really weak - all of the male Smurfs (purposefully) looked exactly the same and only Smurfette seemed to be well realised and detailed. However, when they venture through the wall - the film becomes a spectacle of colours and cool visuals - it was a real treat to the eye. I thought the glow-in-the-dark bunnies were a cute touch. The animation was generally ok but had some really magical and spectacular moments.

The story of Smurfs: The Lost Village isn't anything remarkable or original - I suppose it was nice to see a new story and a new idea - the film touches on the elephant-in-the-room with the characters - why is there only one female? It was fun and refreshing to see the female Smurfs but it was somewhat annoying as it was a little too stereotypical - the female Smurfs always come into scenes on daisies and they love dancing - I didn't really get a sense of multiple personalities in comparison to all the male Smurfs. The message of the film is that anybody can be what they want to be and that labels do not matter - this is all told through Smurfette who is trying to work out who she is. The film kind of cheats as Smurfette never really finds out who she is, she is just everybody and anything. I like the idea of defying labels but I think this message is the other end of the spectrum and kind of impossible. I like what they were going for, it could have just been executed better - possibly with one of the other Smurfs doing something against their label? I also want to praise the film for going quite dark and raising the stakes - SPOILER - Smurfette saves the day and sacrifices her life for everybody which results in her turning into clay. The Smurfs hold a full-on funeral for her and it's quite some time before she comes back to life. The scene where all the Smurfs gather in a circle holding hands resembled Trolls which I think is a compliment to the film but a more original visual would have been better. I think this film is what everybody feared Trolls would be - they're both very similar but Trolls has much more going for it. Oh and the comedy is very child friendly, not much for the adults. 

Smurfs: The Lost Village may be harmless and full of good intentions but it is admittedly no more than mediocre - sometimes dipping below that and sometimes rising above. The final act is the most interesting due to the film getting unexpectedly dark but the first act is pretty horrible. The voice work is so-so. The story is unsurprisingly unoriginal filled with a well intended message that isn't executed in the best way. The animation is also the epitome of mediocrity apart from a few special moments of magic and colour. This film is far from awful and I'm probably more likely to re-watch this than The Boss Baby (despite this being inferior in terms of quality) but it's just another disappointing animated film of 2017 - when I say disappointing, did anyone have high hopes for The Smurfs?


What did you think of SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE? Should Sony call it a day with this series? - COMMENT BELOW

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