The Smurfs UltraHD Blu-ray
By Chris Heinonen on
Summary: The evil wizard Gargamel and his cat Azrael have spent years trying to capture and exploit the peaceful Smurfs. When one of them ventures outside the village and runs back, he mistakenly reveals their location. Chased by Gargamel, a number of them including Papa, Smurfette, and Clumsy take a portal to New York City. Followed by Gargamel, they must find a way back to their village while avoiding the danger all around them.
Movie Review: I grew up watching The Smurfs on Saturday morning cartoons. Watching them try to avoid Gargamel and Azrael while living their smurf lives was always interesting to me. Unfortunately, the movie version of this just doesn’t hold up. First off, almost the entire film takes place in NYC instead of in their village and forest, making it a very different situation than the cartoons. It also has them interacting with humans all the time, which just makes it feel like a different thing than what people that grew up watching the cartoon would expect.
The CGI during the movie also highly distracts. In many cases it looks bad, clearly standing out from the life action images behind it. Had this been fully animated and set in the forest, the CGI issues would not stand out nearly as much as they did during the NYC scenes.
Technical Review: The Smurfs is a 2K digital intermediate that has been upscaled to UltraHD for this release with some HDR added. As more titles are released in UHD, the lack of fine details in upscaled titles becomes more apparent. Fabrics and wood, which often show off the extra details of UHD, look like an upscaled Blu-ray as you would expect. During a shot of Smurfette’s hair you can see artifacts and aliasing in the fine strands as they upscale it.
HDR is used slightly, but not as much as it could be in fireworks and other specular highlights. The release notes to not mention wide color gamut support and if there is WCG here it is not immediately obvious. Overall this disc offers a small improvement over the Blu-ray disc.
The audio gets a much larger improvement with a new Atmos soundtrack. The Atmos channels are most often used when you’d expect, with action scenes. They are not used as much to create immersive ambient effects, but the soundtrack is a good improvement over the standard one on the Blu-ray disc.
Special Features: Commentary tracks, deleted and extended scenes, featurettes.
Review System: Vizio P65-C1 display, Oppo UDP-203 UltraHD Blu-ray Player, KEF Ci5160RL-THX Fronts, Ci3160RL-THX Center, 2x Ci200RR-THX Surrounds, 4x CI200RR-THX Atmos Speakers, Anthem MRX 1120 Receiver.
Improved soundtrack, image quality offers an uptick over Blu-ray version.
No significant image improvements compared to the Blu-ray, not a film you'll want to watch repeatedly.
A let down when compared to the cartoon you probably grew up with, the Smurfs movie shifts the action from the forest to the city with poor results. The Atmos soundtrack offers improvements over the standard surround track on the Blu-ray disc, but the image offers very little improvement.