Animated Movies, Reviews, Sony Pictures Animation, Studios

[REVIEW] Smurfs: The Lost Village

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There is nothing greater for a movie studio these days than to hit on a popular intellectual property (‘IP’) or franchise. Something like Star Wars, Harry Potter, or Marvel comics, is so appealing because not only do they make money, almost regardless of film quality, but they are so low risk in planning, budgeting, and execution. This is why you see studios desperately trying to find new IPs that they can make into a success, and bringing back old franchises in hopes of leaning on nostalgia and creating new fans. This need for IP has proven to be a blessing and a curse for the latest Smurfs film, Smurfs: the Lost Village. Its strengths are very impressive but, for most audience members, they will be lost on the weaknesses of the franchise itself.

Smurfs: The Lost Village is directed by Kelly Asbury and, unlike its 2 predecessors, is a wholly animated film. Here the action is focused on Smurfette, who is feeling ostracized from her fellow smurfs due to her being the only female and being the only one created by Gargamel.  Through various contrivances she, Hefty, Clumsy, and Brainy end up on an adventure to find a lost Smurf village and warn them about Gargamel.

The biggest positive of Smurfs: the Lost Village is how beautiful it is. I definitely think it is the best looking animated film Sony Animation has given us. The world of the Magic Forest was stunning and surprising, with a river that defies gravity and flowers with eyeballs. The colors and the movement were amazing. I didn’t see it in 3D but can only imagine how immersive it would feel. I think most Rotoscopers readers get more out of beautiful animation than the typical moviegoer so watching Smurfs: the Lost Village is worthwhile for that reason alone!

I’m in the minority, it seems, on this one but I also loved Rainn Wilson as Gargamel. I’m frankly a little tired of the surprise villain and it was refreshing to see an old fashioned villain brewing potions and planning to take over the world. I thought it hit just the right note of duplicitousness to be a lot of fun.

There is also some heart to the movie which worked for me. It gets a little over-the-top with a Savior metaphor but there is still real loss, tension, and an attempt to communicate and understand ostracized characters.

There are problems with Smurfs: the Lost Village, however, and most of them get back to what I was saying about IPs. Most of my issues are inherent to Smurfs and I’m not sure what the creators could have done to make the situation any better.

The first problem is in Smurf Village everyone is known for one attribute alone. It is kind of like the 7 Dwarfs except they aren’t the leads of their movie. Here we are expected to feel invested in characters that are defined by one thing: Clumsy, Grumpy, Brainy, etc. This makes it difficult for characters to grow beyond their attribute because if they did their name would no longer make sense. It’s kind of like if you called someone Big Tom and they lost weight. All of a sudden, their name doesn’t fit. They go very specific with these traits, also. There is even one character whose name is ‘Smurf Who Eats a Table.’

My other problem with Smurfs: the Lost Village is also inherent to the franchise. Smurfette is the only female and so, from the beginning, there is an odd gender dynamic. Things that were deemed masculine and feminine at times made me a little uncomfortable as they reinforced stereotypes. Then later when we meet the women of the Lost Village there was something kind of leering about ‘look at these females and how they live’ which bothered me. It’s not like girl power is shoved in your face but there was just something about it that rubbed me the wrong way.

But honestly kids aren’t going to notice stuff like that. It’s just me being a crabby adult! Maybe my name would be Crabby Smurf! I also thought, aside from Rainn Wilson, the celebrity voice cast was a complete waste of money and the pop music was very out of place. It should have been something more mystical and magical to fit the fantasy world; instead, we got Meghan Trainor songs.

All that said, most kids will have a lot of fun with the adventure and humor of the story in Smurfs: the Lost Village. It really can be very charming and for the adults you have all the pretty pictures. I mean seriously it was so beautiful…

✮✮✮

Did you see Smurfs: the Lost Village? If so, what did you think of it, and what is your favorite part of the Smurfs franchise?

Edited by: Kajsa Rain Forden

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About Rachel Wagner

Rachel has loved animation since she was a little girl singing songs from The Little Mermaid at the top of her lungs. She currently works in social media marketing and loves to blog and vlog about Disney, Pixar and all kinds of movies in her free time. Her favorite movie is Up and she considers herself quite the Cinderella aficionado seeing every version she can get her hands on. She also loves animated TV shows like Simpsons, Gravity Falls, Star Wars Rebels and more. Follow her on twitter @smilingldsgirl
  • Manuel Orozco

    I have to give Smurfs Lost Village 5/5 stars. It was vibrantly animated, hilarious and heartwarming. The animation style is refreshing and adds to the bits of nostalgia factor! I didn’t mind Megan Trainor doing the music and she has a double whammy to go with the Peanuts Movie! If anyone has seen the previous two Smurf movies, prepare for something even more Smurftacukar than before! PS I saw the movie in 3D and it’s worth the extra money for certain parts that pop out.

  • Marielle

    I think “Smurf who eats a table” was a self-aware joke poking fun at the fact that they have such specific names. He was in the film for five seconds. The main characters of the film were given a bit more flesh. Hefty has feelings for Smurfette, Brainy has a rivalry with Hefty, Clumsy’s good at flying. It’s certainly not the greatest characterisation ever, but it’s on par with many mediocre kids’ movies. The movie also addresses the fact that there are all defined by one attributes by focusing on Smurfette. They show that other female Smurfs have varied personalities too – that’s why they have a super bubbly one and a super suspicious one. The conclusion of the film is that Smurfette is more special than the others because she doesn’t have one attribute so she can be whatever she wants. Probably many kids feel like blank canvases or are torn between multiple interests and the movie is telling then it’s okay. At least that’s how I perceived it.

    • Manuel Orozco

      I didn’t care for Table Eating Smurf. But I have to admit, the development the four main Smurfs were given was totally convincing. Almost every Smurf in Smurf Village in the 80’s cartoon version wanted to be Smurfette’s love interest. If she returned Hefty’s feelings, they could totally be the Smurf version of Poppy and Branch.

    • Rachel Wagner

      Interesting. I can see what you mean.

      • Manuel Orozco

        Well the big twist is Hefty is not the grouchy one with a heart.

    • Dave 52

      That’s……pretty insightful actually. I never thought of the characters that way.

  • Dave 52

    I thought that the the movie was both a decent and a massive improvement over the last two films. It is a modern take on the characters that remains 100% true to the source
    material but adds some new things to it. As a matter of fact, it feels
    like an episode of the cartoon or something out of comic but on the big
    screen. It’s very much in the vein of The Peanuts Movie. I found it to
    be pretty enjoyable and fun. Honestly, unlike the last two films, I
    wouldn’t mind if they made another one because after seeing what lies in
    the Forbidden Forest it does make me curious what else they can do with
    this universe.

    • Manuel Orozco

      I did like the previous two movies but I do get what you mean. Also, I agree it’s in the vein as the Peanuts Movie. What was slightly missing however was that magical sense of emotional honesty and genuine nostalgia the Peanuts Movie offered.

      • Dave 52

        “But what was slightly missing was that sense of emotional honesty and genuine nostalgia the Peanuts Movie offered.”

        True, True. Maybe if there were little to no pop songs in it and it was more focused on being timeless it would have been more on the levels of The Peanuts Movie.

        • Manuel Orozco

          Well I didn’t mind the music myself. I even had a nostalgia overload from hearing I’m Blue from Eifel 65 being a 90’s baby myself. Plus Meghan Trainor was an excellent choice for new music. However, before she was announced to do the Peanuts Movie, I was expecting maybe Katy Perry, Taylor Swift or Idina Menzel. What would have been extra special is if Peyo’s surviving family members being totally involved in the making of the movie similar to how Bryan and Craig Schulz wrote Peanuts Movie’s screenplay.

        • Manuel Orozco

          By the way what did you mean by more focused on being timeless?

    • Rachel Wagner

      I agree. I would love to see a sequel.

      • Dave 52

        There is much they can pull from the comics and cartoons in terms of characters and places to further expand the universe. I would even say that there is enough material to make Smurfs the animated equivalent to The Hobbit movies (I mean this was pretty much Smurfs: The Unexpected Journey). There are so many stories that could make for more fun films like this one.

        • Manuel Orozco

          I never seen the Hobbit movies but I do get your point on the possibilities the Smurfs universe has.

  • racy1285

    I enjoyed the movie takes me back to the Hanna Barbera cartoon in the 80s. Wish they would have gone full animation for the first movie.

    I have a feeling the stink from the first two films is going to hurt this film at the boxoffice. Hope it does well internationally because I do want to see more. Plenty of ideas to take from the comics like bringing in Johan and Peewit and also doing the black/purple smurfs storyline.

    I do disagree on Rain Wilson as Gargamel. His performance was terrible. It veered too far to the comedy side that I couldnt take him seriously as the villain. His voice as well is no where near threatening. He would have been better a Smurf. Hank Azaria did a better job as Gargamel. Of course Paul Winchell will always be the best Gargamel RIP.

    • Dave 52

      I honestly liked Wilson’s performance as Gargamel. I liked Gargamel being portrayed as a more bumbling buffoon who just thinks he is smarter than everyone when in reality he is a maroon. That portrayal lead to some genuine chuckle worthy moments between him and Azrael.

      • Manuel Orozco

        I agree and he was less cheesy than Hank Azira’s version

      • racy1285

        I had no problem with that. The Paul Winchell and Hank Azaria performances were similar with the portrayal. But they manage to make Gargamel seem like a genuine threat while making him a buffoon at the same time. Like I said Wilson just went overboard with the comedy to the point I didnt take him a threat anymore.

        If a villain is no longer threatening then it defeats its purpose.

        • Manuel Orozco

          Well it’s been a long time since I’ve seen the 80’s cartoon myself. But I can say that Wilson’s performance was more faithful to Winchell’s version. And I find gaining Smurf magic is much better than eating them.

          • racy1285

            I 100% disagree. I remember the Winchell performance quite well. The only thing similar Wilson has with Winchell is the character design and Gargamels bumbling.

            As for the whole eating thing that was from Peyos comic. I didn’t care much for the change. Didnt affect my enjoyment of the movie what so ever.

          • Manuel Orozco

            True about Wilson and that wig he was given with his transformation was weird. I didn’t have a major problem with the change. But nonetheless still a great movie

      • Rachel Wagner

        Yeah I just like the old school villains sometimes

        • Manuel Orozco

          I like old school villains too. I’m getting a little tired of surprised villains too especially with Creek in Trolls being the most recent example.

          • Rachel Wagner

            Definitely. I agree

          • Manuel Orozco

            If I were to rewrite his role in the plot, I would have him and Branch fight over Poppy. But believe me I didn’t see Creek betraying the Trolls coming. Oh the bright side, everything else worked out all right in the end with him and Cheif exiled from their groups never to be seen again.

          • Manuel Orozco

            I meant on not oh

  • Thanks for the review Rachel. Despite all the reviews, this looks better
    than other Sony animated films. I will probably see this one eventually.

    • Manuel Orozco

      The only Sony animated films I’ve seen besides the Smurfs are Hotel Transylvania 1 and 2.

      • I saw Open Season (it was fair), Surf’s Up (their best movie), Cloudy 1
        (decent), and Hotel Transylvania 1 (also fair). So yeah, it’s a mixed bag.

        • Manuel Orozco

          I wasn’t really interested in the Open Season series, Surf’s Up or Cloudy. Looked cute but too crazy for my taste. Hotel Transylvania 1 and 2 are on par with each other in my book. Hopefully 3 next year can follow suit or do better.

        • Manuel Orozco

          By the way you did see #2 right?

    • Rachel Wagner

      Yeah I certainly think it is. You should give it a shot. Thanks for reading

    • Marielle

      I love Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Hotel Transylvania. I thought Hotel Transylvania 2 wasn’t as good though.

      • Manuel Orozco

        I thought HT 1 and 2 were on par with each other.

  • On a side note, people will be able to see 3 animated films this Friday,
    Boss Baby, Smurfs, and Spark: A Space Tail (which looks so generic).

    • Manuel Orozco

      I don’t think I will see Spark either

    • Manuel Orozco

      By the way, why didn’t Sony get smart on releasing Lost Village sometime else?

      • It’s dumb. I figured that Smurfs and Boss Baby would cancel each other
        out. Instead, Boss Baby effectively prevented Smurfs from making cash.

        • Manuel Orozco

          I knew there was something I wouldn’t like about Boss Baby even if I don’t actually plan to see it. I hope the animated Spider Man can think of a wise release move especially competing with Mary Poppins Returns Christmas 2018.

        • Rachel Wagner

          I thought the same thing and am so surprised with how well Boss Baby did

    • Marielle

      I think there will be no animated movie after that until Cars 3 mid June. I don’t know why they didn’t space these movies out.

      • Manuel Orozco

        I don’t know either. Same goes for Cars 3 and Despicable Me 3 with being two weeks apart from the other.