The Smurfs appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The movie came with an erratic, unexceptional transfer.
Sharpness became one of the up and down elements. Close-ups looked fine, and occasional wide shots seemed decent. However, much of the flick came across as a bit soft and indistinct; these concerns were never extreme, but a lot of the movie appeared somewhat mushy.
Sporadic examples of jaggies and shimmering materialized as well as some artifacting, and the image could be a bit blocky. The opening sequence looked the worst, as its movement became extremely rough. The presentation improved after that but still showed some of the same artifacts along the way. I saw light edge haloes at times, but source flaws remained absent; no specks, marks or other concerns materialized.
Due to its fantasy characters, Smurfs arrived with an occasionally bubbly palette. The colors were fairly good; they lacked terrific vivacity, but they showed pretty peppy reproduction. Blacks were fine, while shadows seemed reasonably concise. Really, the issues with definition and artifacts created the biggest concerns and made this a disappointing image.
While not exceptional, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Smurfs suited the material. The soundscape offered enough action-oriented sequences to add pep to the package. These used the five channels well and meshed together in a positive manner. I couldn’t cite any especially memorable segments, but the track had enough good activity and integration to succeed.
Audio quality seemed fine. Speech consistently remained natural and distinctive, without edginess or other problems. Music displayed nice range and clarity, while effects showed solid definition and accuracy. Note that the track was mastered at a rather low level, so I needed to crank the volume higher than usual. When I did so, however, it showed pretty good reproduction. This was a solid “B+” mix.
The DVD brings us a reasonable roster of extras. We find two audio commentaries, the first of which comes from director Raja Gosnell. He offers a running, screen-specific discussion of how he came onto the project, story/character areas, cast and performances, effects and animation, sets and locations, and a few other elements.
Gosnell touches on all the appropriate topics and do so with pretty good humor and energy. As expected, he does engage in a fair amount of happy talk, but those tendencies don’t overwhelm the chat. Instead, Gosnell manages to give us a nice overview of the production in this fairly peppy and informative commentary.
For the second commentary, we hear from producer Jordan Kerner, writers J. David Stem, David N. Weiss, Jay Scherick and David Ronn and VFX supervisor Richard Hoover. All six sit together for this running, screen-specific look at bringing the franchise to the big screen, story, character and script topics, sets and locations, cast and performances, production design and various effects, music and additional areas.
Because Gosnell offered a pretty thorough chat, this commentary doesn’t leave a lot of stones to unturn. Nonetheless, it manages to add a decent level of insight, mainly due to the extra perspectives on display. The participants mesh together well and make this a likable and fairly interesting piece.
With the ”Find the Smurfs” Game, we go through three rounds of action, In each one, we watch Smurfs scurry about the screen and hide; when they stop, we have to find a specific Smurf. It gets more challenging as it goes, but it’s not particularly fun.
After this, we learn about how the Smurfs went from Comic Book to the Big Screen. In the eight-minute, 15-second piece, we hear from Kerner, Hoover, Gosnell, CG character designer Allen Battino, senior animation director Troy Saliba, SPI digital FX supervisor Daniel Kramer, CG supervisor Karl Herbst, production designer Bill Boes, director of photography Phil Meheux, and actor Neil Patrick Harris. We get notes about the design of the Smurfs for the movie as well as the methods used to bring them to life. We get a good, tight overview of the choices and work executed here.
Under Going Gargamel, we get a 10-minute, one-second piece that features Gosnell, Harris, Scherick, Ronn, Stem, Weiss, animal trainer Larry Madrid and actors Jayma Mays and Hank Azaria. We learn about the Gargamel character’s adaptation for the big screen, Azaria’s performance, and other related elements. Like “Screen”, this is a brisk, engaging take on the topics that offers useful material.
An outtake collection comes to us via Blue-pers. It lasts a mere 26 seconds and offers some animated “goofs” from the Smurfs. It’s cute but too short to have much impact.
Finally, we get a Happy Music Montage. This runs one minute, 51 second and delivers a mix of movie shots accompanied by a song that sounds like it’s from Katy Perry but isn’t. Nothing interesting shows up here.
The disc opens with ads for Arthur Christmas, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Zookeeper. These also appear under Previews along with clips for Surf’s Up and Open Season. No trailer for Smurfs appears here.
One of the summer’s moderate hits, The Smurfs delivers more entertainment than I anticipated. No, it’s not a classic – or even genuinely good, to be honest – but it keeps us reasonably amused much of the time. The DVD provides very good audio and some interesting supplements but picture quality is mediocre to weak. That’s the disc’s biggest problem and one that makes the release lackluster.