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SONY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Raja Gosnell
Cast:
Hank Azaria, Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays, Katy Perry, Jonathan Winters, Alan Cumming, Fred Armisen, J.B. Smoove, George Lopez , Christina Ricci
Writing Credits:
Peyo (characters), J. David Stem (and story), David N. Weiss (and story), Jay Scherick (and story), David Ronn (and story), Karey Kirkpatrick

Tagline:
Get ready to get naughty!

Synopsis:
Evil wizard Gargamel creates a couple of mischievous Smurf-like creatures called the Naughties hoping they will let him harness the magical Smurf-essence. However, he soon discovers that he needs the help of Smurfette, who knows the secret to turning the Naughties into real Smurfs. When Gargamel and his Naughties kidnap Smurfette from Smurf Village and bring her to Paris, it's up to Papa, Clumsy, Grouchy and Vanity to reunite with their human friends, Patrick and Grace Winslow, and rescue her!

Box Office:
Budget
$105 million.
Opening Weekend
$17.548 million on 3866 screens.
Domestic Gross
$71.017 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.851/16X9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Audio Descriptive Service
French Dolby Digital 5.1
French Audio Descriptive Service
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish

Runtime: 105 min.
Price: $30.99
Release Date: 12/3/2013

Bonus:
• “Daddy’s Little Girl: The Journey of Smurfette” Featurette
• “Animating Azrael” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Smurfs 2 (2013)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 2, 2013)

When the 2011 big-screen version of The Smurfs became a decent hit, did a sequel become inevitable? Heck yeah, and that continuation arrived via 2013’s less successful The Smurfs 2.

A prologue shows how evil wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria) created Smurfette (voiced by Katy Perry) to infiltrate and disrupt Smurf Village. Despite her wicked antics, Papa Smurf (voiced by Jonathan Winters) sensed good in her and changed her into the Smurfette everyone knows and loves, though her past continues to cause periodic anxiety in the young lady – especially on her birthday, which it appears the other Smurfs forgot.

In the meantime, Gargamel stars in a stage production called Gargamania, which brings him fame and fortune. Gargamel uses “Smurf essence” to pull of his tricks, and his supply nears its end. He needs to find some more, so he plans to use his Smurf-like “Naughties” Vexy (voiced by Christina Ricci) and Hackus (voiced by JB Smoove) to learn Papa Smurf’s secrets. His plans intersect with Smurfette’s identity crisis to create havoc – and inevitably involve the Smurfs’ human pals Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris) and Grace (Jayma Mays).

When I watched the first film two years ago, I found it to be a pleasant surprise – not a big one, but it still delivered better entertainment than I anticipated. Granted, some of that stemmed from my intensely low expectations, but I still felt the movie gave us enough fun to keep us with it.

Smurfs lacked an obvious reason to exist as a creative enterprise; it came to the screens as product more than anything else, and that seems doubly true for the sequel. At least the filmmakers attempted a real narrative for Smurfs, whereas Smurfs 2 comes saddled with plot elements in search of a cohesive whole.

The film hunts and strives to find coherence but it never succeeds. It throws in a mix of contrivances, all of which exist to create sight gags. One slapstick element follows another, and the “plot” exists to enable these; the components never come together in a sensible way, as they simply amble from one wacky moment to another.

Admittedly, I can’t claim that the first movie came with a stellar plot and great cleverness, but it did seem to try harder to create a “real film”. Smurfs 2 hews closer to the cheap cinematic product I assumed the prior flick would be; it throws out cliché stabs at humor and fun but none of these register.

Even Harris and Azaria – who added life to Smurfs - come up short this time. Perhaps they realized that Smurfs 2 lacked creative merit and just decided to cash their paychecks, but neither of them manages to show the verve they displayed last time. In particular, Harris seems neutered, as he loses the small but likable sense of sarcasm he offered in the prior film. The talented Brendan Gleeson can’t pick up the slack as Patrick’s stepfather; he simply joins the paycheck parade and mugs/goofs his way through his unnecessary role.

“Unnecessary” describes pretty much everything about the forgettable, pointless Smurfs 2. Almost wholly devoid of charm and pizzazz, the sequel squanders whatever goodwill its predecessor created.

Footnote: fans should stick it out through the end of the credits for a little Gargamel tag.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

The Smurfs 2 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. For SD-DVD, this was a solid presentation.

For the most part, sharpness looked good. At times, wider shots tended to be a little soft, but those examples weren’t terribly intrusive. Much of the film appeared pretty accurate and concise. No concerns with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement remained minor. Source flaws also failed to create problems.

In terms of colors, Smurfs 2 veered toward a pretty peppy palette to reflect the world of the Smurfs. Of course, blue dominated, but we still got a fairly broad range of hues that tended to appear lively. Blacks were deep and firm, while shadows showed good delineation. Overall, this was a pleasing presentation.

Similar thoughts greeted the good Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Smurfs 2. I felt the soundscape delivered an involving experience in which the various action scenes offered a nice sense of impact. Overall, the mix filled out the room in a satisfying manner, especially when it involved magic.

Audio quality was positive. Speech came across as natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music showed good range, and effects offered a good sense of impact with reasonable punch and clarity. This was a positive soundtrack.

When we shift to the DVD’s extras, we open with two featurettes. Daddy’s Little Girl: The Journey of Smurfette runs six minutes, 22 seconds and includes comments from producer Jordan Kerner, director Raja Gosnell, screenwriters J. David Stem, David N. Weiss, David Ronn and Jay Scherick, and actor Katy Perry. They cover the movie’s Smurfette character as well as Perry’s portrayal of her. Perry throws out a couple of decent notes but overall this remains a light, fluffy piece without much informational value.

During the three-minute, 25-second Animating Azrael, we hear from animation supervisor Spencer Cook. We see aspects of the animation as Cook narrates the work. Despite the show’s brevity, it gives us a solid little overview of the movie’s CG.

Five Deleted Scenes fill a total of three minutes, 53 seconds. Most of these focus on Gargamel and tend toward extensions to existing sequences. None of them add much, though at least we find out where Gargamel got his personal action figure.

The disc opens with ads for Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, Hotel Transylvania, and The Smurfs. Previews also includes promos for Angry Birds Toons, The Swan Princess: A Royal Family Tale and One Direction: This Is Us. No trailer for Smurfs 2 pops up here.

While I thought The Smurfs offered a reasonably entertaining effort, no such praise greets The Smurfs 2. Devoid of even minor charm or fun, the sequel provides a meandering story and tedious gags. The DVD gives us good picture and audio but lacks substantial bonus materials. Maybe huge fans of the first film will find some merit here but the sequel leaves me entirely cold.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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