Smurfs 2, The

Featured In Issue 212, December 2016

WSR Score3
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Raja Gosnell
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In The Smurfs 2, the Smurfs travel to modern day Paris to stop Gargamel from stealing Smurf-essence to fuel his public magic performances. This movie puts animated Smurfs in the real world, interacting with human adults, kids, other Smurfs, and animals. (Doug Blackburn)

The 4K Sony CineAlta F65 digital camera capture was used to make a 4K digital intermediate. From the very first image in this movie, the opening of the Smurfology pop-up book, it is very clear you are seeing exceptional image resolution. The book and the animated Smurf world have amazing detail. But the real-world images of NYC and Paris are a testament to how great UHD discs can look when the source material is as good as the capabilities of the disc format. This is as good as UHD movie discs get… so far. I’ve left some room in picture quality ratings because of highly anticipated upcoming movies like Avatar 2 to finally set the visual standard for the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc format when their 8K shooting resolution is used to create a 4K digital intermediate. I can’t say I’m a Smurfs fan at all, but this movie is pure eye-candy. Colors are natural and pleasing, if a little more saturated than real life. Textures are present everywhere, even in Smurf skin, clothes, and tongues. (Doug Blackburn)

The sound is excellent, as you would expect for a major studio release. But it’s not the sort of demonstration-quality soundtrack people gravitate to when looking for especially engrossing scenes to use when demonstrating their system to friends and family—mostly because the number of “big moments” are limited and don’t necessarily lend themselves to spectacular sound design. The best candidates for demo scenes are probably the Smurfs flying around Paris on the backs of birds and the scene where a huge Ferris wheel breaks free from its frame and rolls down the streets of Paris. Both of these scenes seem aimed at jazzing up the 3D version of the movie. The Dolby Atmos soundtrack is very good through the ear-level channels. But it suffers the usual problem… long periods of absolutely nothing happening in the height channels when they should be carrying all manner of ambient sounds. Even when scenes are inside in an urban apartment, you would experience ambient sound coming from above if you were in that environment during the scene, but the height channels remain silent unless there is music during those scenes. As usual, the only things that occur in the height channels are music and some effects in conjunction with on-screen “overhead” action. It’s disappointing to not be getting continuous immersion from the height channels. This movie could have been much more charming, with ambience in the height channels that reflects the uniqueness of each locale portrayed in the movie. (Doug Blackburn)