This seems to be the week for the underdog movie. First, The Power Rangers Movie was surprisingly entertaining and now I’m reporting that Smurfs: the Lost Village is a solid little animated movie. Neither of these movies are masterpieces, but I feel the creative teams behind them really tried to make the best movie they could and it shows.
I should tell you guys about my history with the Smurfs. The previous live action hybrid films are two of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. They aren’t funny and the continual product placement left a bad taste in my mouth. You could say the bar for this new film was very low!
The biggest pro of Smurfs: the Lost Village is the stunning animation. That might sound crazy coming from a Smurfs movie, but I honestly thought the backgrounds and other visuals were really beautiful. There is a scene where they ride down a floating river that was full of colors and light that dazzled me. It is without a doubt the best animation Sony Animation has ever done.
Even the animation of the Smurfs looked really good especially when you compare them to the live action versions. They are smoother, brighter and more pleasant to look at. When the Smurfs from the Lost Village come into play those are also very nicely animated and designed. It’s amazing all they did with the color blue!
I also liked Rainn Wilson as Gargamel. He was the only celebrity who gave a memorable performance with the campy style needed for such a villain. In a way it is kind of refreshing to have a villain like Gargamel in a world of animated surprise villains. It’s nice to have one brewing potions and planning world domination for once! His interactions with his vulture and cat were also a lot of fun.
That brings me to some of the downsides of Smurfs: the Lost Village. Aside from Rainn, the rest of the celebrity voice casting was completely wasted and unnecessary. Some of the celebrities like Gordon Ramsey as Baker Smurf maybe had 2 lines. Julia Roberts gets top billing and she doesn’t appear for an hour into the movie! What a waste! Why not use voice talent and lower your budget so you can make riskier films? I will never understand it.
There are also some issues that are inherent in the franchise. Much like the 7 dwarfs in Snow White the Smurfs are known by their key skill or trait- Clumsy, Grumpy, Brainy etc. This makes for some pretty boring characters that don’t have much room to grow or move in the story because they can’t escape their label. The dwarfs were side characters so weren’t required to grow much but particularly the quad of Brainy, Clumsy, Smurfette and Hefty are the leads of the movie. They even have a Smurf who’s name is “Smurf who chews on the table”. Hmmm…
The other problem, which is inherent to the franchise is some of the odd moments of gender dynamics. Smurfette is the only female character until they meet a new village. This makes for some weird moments where things are considered masculine or feminine that made me squirm a bit. Granted I think 99% of kids this will go right over their heads but I noticed. Even the design of Smurfette is a little concerning with her high heels and blonde hair. Especially with how she becomes a literal Savior character it made me a little uncomfortable.
Some I am sure will complain this film is generic and predictable. So what? Not everything in the world has to be new and exciting. It moved along quickly enough and Gargamel was fun and the animation was gorgeous. That’s certainly enough to entertain me.
Another quick problem is I didn’t think any of the pop songs worked within the movie. In fact, they took me out of the movie. They were too modern for this fantastical world they’d created.
Smurf’s: the Lost Village would have been so easy to phone in and make it mediocre, so I appreciate the effort Sony Animation put into this film. In many ways it reminds me of Horton Hears a Who. Sure both movies have flaws but especially compared to their predecessors they are successful. I recommend giving Smurf’s the Lost Village a shot- maybe not a full price but a matinee ticket. You’ll be glad you did if only for the visuals alone.
Overall Grade- B
As far as content there is some tense sequences but the kids at my theater all seemed ok. If they could handle Trolls they should be fine with this.
16 thoughts on “Smurfs: The Lost Village Review”
I had no desire to go and so this until I read your review 😁. Very good analysis and I look forward to watching it either on the screen or at home.
I think I need to stop judging a film by its trailer and just go and see if!
That makes me so happy! Thank you. One of the best things about doing this blog is it forces me to see films I might otherwise ignore and so I know what you mean!
From the trailers, I knew this would be a better film than the previous 2 Smurfs films, if just for the animation alone. But, I think I can wait for the DVD for this one.
Wow. Nice to hear this was such a good movie. 😀
At the end when I quantify my review with a rating, I decide (with all due respect to Siskel & Ebert) thumbs up or thumbs down. In other words, if some asked, “Should I go see it?” what would my answer be. Since I use stars the dividing line would be between 3 and 2½ stars.
In terms of letter grades, the separation would be between a B- / C+ with the more positive of the two signifying a “yes”….but just barely.
I’m curious where you see the dividing line in your grading system.
I dont know. I’m thinking about changing my rating system because I’m not really happy with it. I was thinking about doing a watch it in theater, rent it, skip it but dont know. The way I saw it is C- is good stuff but more bad than good 4 out of 10(Batman v Superman, Kong Skull Island got C-). C+ is a movie that is just entertaining enough to get a mild recommendation like a 6 out of 10. A B grade would be higher recommendation with amount of problems debating between a B+ and B-. An A grade is one of my favorites of year with more nitpicky problems
Like I said I’m not really that happy with it. Sometimes I wonder if I should abandon ratings all together so that people are forced to really read what I have to say
And so, another potentially entertaining, rated PG kids’ movie flops. :/ Hollywood is still churning them out, but they leave so much to be desired.
I actually liked it. It has problems but overall I thought it was beautifully animated and a good movie
Ah, I interpreted the B-/C+ as more of a “meh” review. Having grown up with Smurfs, it is a little hard to lower my expectations from “Smurf-errific.” 😉
Ah I guess take those grades with a grain of salt. It does have problems but I still think it’s solid entertaining film.
I really struggle with what grades to give things sometimes. With this one the animation is beautiful and I liked Gargamel as a traditional bad guy. The problems are in the story, uninspired voice cast and some odd gender dynamics and messaging but still it’s a lot better than I expected it to be
That’s understandable. It’s almost as though animated films require two scores: one for plot, and the other just for animation. I would appreciate the classic, Gargamel-as-antagonist story. The sexism with Smurfette is an issue, yes. On the other hand, it has always been an issue since her inception, but there’s not much they can do about it without changing her character, which old fans may not appreciate.
You might be on to something with 2 scores. Interesting. I guess a lot of it comes down to expectations. Since you are more of a Smurfs fan I’d be curious what you think. It’s kind of like this is a solid base hit. Not a home run but a respectable hit
This is why I need to change my rating system because I have movies like Beauty and the Beast which are barely fresh with lots of problems and films like this which I like a lot more but am aware of problems
I changed it to a B because those visuals have really stuck with me. 🙂