Another week, another sequel. This time it's the follow-up to 2011's The Smurfs, a blend of live action and CGI which saw the little blue creatures (just what exactly are they? Pixies? Elves? Gnomes?) sucked through a weird portal to New York, where they had all sorts of adventures and got to hang out with the lovely Neil Patrick Harris.
The Smurfs 2 sees Smurfette, the only girl in the village, sucked through a portal to Paris. The evil wizard Gargamel (Azaria) has become a massive star doing magic shows (USING REAL MAGIC!) but he's running out of the special Smurf juice that gives him his power. So he snatches Smurfette in a bid to get her to reveal the secret formula to the Smurf essence.
For, you see, Smurfette didn't start out as a Smurf. Oh no, she was actually a Naughty, created by Gargamel. And he plans to use the Smurf essence to create an army of Naughties and take over the world. Meanwhile, Papa Smurf and a few of his gang jump through a portal to New York to enlist the help of Patrick and his tribe (wife Grace, stepfather Victor and son Blue) to help rescue Smurfette.
It's an unnecessary sequel, to be sure, but an innoffensive one. Well, almost – there is a requisite fart gag. It took FIVE screenwriters to come up with the script, though, so one does wonder what they did with the rest of their time ... play basketball perhaps? The script is fairly standard for a kids' film, with a few decent puns thrown in for grownups, but it doesn't really do anything innovative or outrageous.
As with the first film, the blend of live action and animation is seamless, and the human actors all seem to be having a good time – particularly the terrific Gleeson as stepdad Victor (there's a strong fatherhood theme running through the film). But once again, Azaria steals the show as the bumbling bad guy, Gargamel – he's almost a live-action cartoon character himself. Returning director Gosnell makes great use of the Paris locations, and the whole thing moves along at a decent pace.
3D QUALITY ★★★★ The 3D on this release is excellent. Normally, live-action 3D is inferior to animation, but here the seamles blend of CGI with the live actors really does enhance the 3D work (which, as usual, looks better at home on TV than in the cinema). There is great depth of field in most scenes, and the 3D is shown off to its best on the flying scenes in Paris.
EXTRAS ★★★ The bonus material appears only on the 2D disc - there is nothing extra on the 3D disc, apart ofr the film. The extras are: Five deleted scenes (3:52); previews for other Sony releases; and a collection of behind-the-scenes featurettes – Daddy's Little Girl: The Journey of Smurfette (6:21), The Naughties! The tale Of Hackus And Vexy (5:42), The Puurrfect Companion: Azrael's Tail (4:40), Animating Azrael (3:24), and Evolution Of The Naughties (3:41). Missing from this UK release (but included on the US version) is the 22-minute short The Smurfs: The Legend of Smurfy Hollow.