Those blue-skinned creatures with mushroom-shaped heads are back in Smurfs: The Lost Village. This is the third film in the series since the franchise was rebooted in 2011 with The Smurfs. The first film was a live-action hybrid starring Neil Patrick Harris, and was followed in 2013 by a sequel, Smurfs 2.
This third entry is a fully-CGI animated adventure set in the Smurf fantasy world all fans are familiar with. The premise of the film is centered around Smurfette, (voiced by Demi Lovato) the only girl in a village of boys. She struggles to find her identity and contemplates whether she’s a “real Smurf”.
Unlike her male counterparts, who were born naturally, (which has actually never been explained as to how that works for Smurfs) Smurfette was originally created as an experiment by the evil wizard Gargamel (Rainn Wilson) for the purpose of luring and capturing the other smurfs. Though she’s been good for years, thanks to the magic of Papa Smurf, Smurfette is still haunted by her past and wonders what place she really has in the world.
Things get really interesting when rumors start emerge about a “lost village’ of smurfs somewhere in the Forbidden Forest, and Smurfette is determined to find it and see if there really are other like her out there, smurfs who are “lost” like her.
In terms of the overall film, there’s an old expression, “the third time’s the charm’, and this is an expression that fits this animated adventure very well. Unlike the previous two entries, Smurfs: The Lost Village is a film that gets the formula and brand right.
The best decision the filmmakers made was to remove the characters from modern setting like New York or Paris, and put them back right back into the medieval fantasy world popularized by the Saturday morning 1980’s cartoon, and originally created by the Belgian comic book writer Peyo in 1958. These settings of magical villages, evil wizards, and fire-breathing dragons are where Papa Smurf, Clumsy, Brainy, Hefty, and all of the other little blue creatures belong.
If you were a fan of the original cartoon like I was, you’ll find plenty to like in this movie. Smurfs: The Lost Village stays true to the spirit of the Hanna-Barbera series while delivering fresh new twists to excite new generations.
The little kids at my screening were fully engaged in the movie, and recognized a lot of the famous characters the instant they came on screen. Like all other recent reboots of old popular properties, Hollywood is hoping to bring in a new generation of fans to the Smurfs, while using nostalgia to bring in the older generation. I would say it seems to be working.
I didn’t really find anything wrong with the movie. I think it accomplishes what it set out do. If I have any kind of criticism at all, it would be an unfair one. Every time a new version of an old property comes out, I can’t help but compare it to the original I grew up with. But that’s just a personal bias on my part. As a new film for a new generation, it works fine.
The biggest challenge Smurfs: The Lost Village faces is finding an audience in an already crowded, and competitive box office market. It has the danger of getting lost in the shuffle of other big movies coming out. On the bright side, the Smurfs are a familiar enough brand that it will find an audience, much like the children I saw watching the film this evening. So if you feel like escaping the real world for a few hours and want to feel like a kid again, go see Smurfs: The Lost Village. You’ll have a smurfy good time.