MOVIE REVIEW: new Smurfs adventure is a candy-coloured blast
"IT'S like a workout for your eyes!"
Hefty Smurf (aka Magic Mike XXL's Joe Manganiello) sums up the appeal of this action-minded reboot in one enthusiastic sentence.
We're already familiar with the tight white pants, the distinctive conical caps, and the mushroom-shaped houses ... but in Smurfs: The Lost Village, the animation really pings.
Directed by Kelly Asbury, this version is closer in spirit to Belgian artist Peyo's original 1958 comics than its two live action predecessors - which featured Hank Azaria and Neil Patrick Harris.
After stumbling upon the location of the mythical village, Smurfette and her gang are caught in a race against time to save their fellow Smurfs from the evil wizard Gargamel.
Mandy Pantinkin fleshes out the overprotective Papa Smurf with his distinctive gravelly timbre, and Rainn Wilson has fun with the role of Gargamel, one of cinema's most ridiculous villains.
He is almost upstaged, at times, by his henchmen - a quick-thinking ginger moggy and a flea-bitten bird of prey.
But the origin story really kicks into gear when Heft, Brainy (Danny Pudi), Clumsy (Jack McBrayer) and Smurfette (Demi Lovato) blunder into an enchanted alternative world after squeezing through a hole in the boundary wall.
The Forbidden Forest is a candy-coloured parallel universe with fire-breathing dragonflies, Smurf-swallowing electric yellow blooms, and a river that defies gravity - there's a nailbiting chase sequence in which the four mates navigate its perilous twists and turns in a homemade raft.
But the biggest surprise for Smurfette and her gang is the Lost Village itself, where all the Smurfs are women (led by Julia Roberts' wise and feisty Smurfwillow.)
Harmless, family-friendly school holiday entertainment aimed at younger audiences.
Smurfs: The Lost World is in cinemas now.
Smurfs: The Lost Village
Stars: Demi Lovato, Rainn Wilson, Joe Manganiello.
Director: Kelly Asbury
Verdict: 2.5/5 stars