The Smurfs have risen from obscurity in recent years. After two underwhelming live-action movie attempts, going back to their animated origins was necessary. Lost Village is a return to that animation for the Smurfs, it’s where they should have been from the start. The premise of the film centers on Smurfette, Brainy, Hefty and Clumsy following a mysterious map into the Forbidden Forest where they discover something no Smurf ever has before. Of course, there is no Smurf adventure without Gargamel and Azrael (plus an added vulture) in pursuit of them.
As a Smurf purist, I’ll have more issues with the movie than most will. First of all there is a lack of Smurf camaraderie. What makes the Smurfs unique is that they are a band of jolly brothers (plus Smurfette) that stick together and work in harmony. The movie starts out on the right track by introducing a variety of Smurfs and highlighting their individual qualities. That is also the last that you see of most of them. The movie is all about four Smurfs. Why are Brainy, Hefy, and Clumsy the chosen Smurfs to be featured throughout? It seems a bit random. Make no mistake, this is very much a story that revolves around Smurfette and her search for her identity. The most famous Smurf of them all, Papa Smurf, barely makes an appearance. The point is that with so many Smurfs to showcase, they limited themselves to only four. Use all your available characters!
The evil wizard and resident Smurf hater Gargamel gets a lot of screen time. Rainn Wilson voices Gargamel and he really infuses a lot of persona to a rather dull character. In fact, Gargamel was the most entertaining character in the movie, which is probably not good news for the Smurf lovers. The rest of the voice casting was peculiar. Demi Lovato does a seamless job as Smurfette, but Joe Manganiello should stick to action movies or Magic Mike, because Hefty Smurf sounds rather weird being voiced by him. Even the toughest Smurf can’t doesn’t have the deep voice the Manganiello lends him. There was also a romantic tease between Hefty and Smurfette that doesn’t lead anywhere.
Visually, Lost Village is lacking. It doesn’t bear resemblance to the Pixar or Disney animated movies but looks more like a high definition video game. It doesn’t look bad, but it doesn’t have the awe inspiring look that we have gotten accustomed to in today’s animation. Negatives aside, there are good things about this movie. Just like the Smurfs, this movie is constantly moving and something is going on, there are no lulls. Being engaged shouldn’t be an issue if you can keep up with the pacing.
Overall, Lost Village is a modern version of the Smurfs. They can’t be compared to the cartoons of the past, or even the recent live action films. These are Smurfs for a new generation. The soundtrack was good with songs provided by Lovato and Meghan Trainor and it adds to the mainstream appeal. While the characters, the look and concept of the Smurfs is true to their origins, the feel and tone of the movie makes them a lot more modernized and hip. This is a movie that kids will like more than their parents that grew up on the Smurfs. The nostalgia is there, just wrapped with a modern twist. It’s still worth Smurfing your way to theaters to see all the Smurftasic fun.
Smurfs: The Lost Village is now playing in theaters.