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The Smurfs

While this animated feature starts with some promise, it peters out in the end.

Director: Raja Gosnell
Starring: Neil Patrick Harris, Hank Azaria, and the voices of Katy Perry, Anton Yelchin, Jonathan Winters
** 

The Smurfs is the first of what Sony Pictures hopes to be a trilogy of movies based on the tiny blue characters created by Peyo for the Belgian comic books.

The movie begins with the Smurfs living happily in their village, safe from the impending threat of Gargamel (Hank Azaria), an evil wizard who wants to use their "essence" to make him the most powerful being in the world. Clumsy Smurf (Anton Yelchin) accidentally leads Gargamel to them, but a small group of Smurfs manage to escape through a magic portal to modern New York.

With their enemy following them, the Smurfs must work out how to get back home and save their village. What starts off as a faithful and impressive recreation of the classic 1980s cartoon soon turns into a dry and dull fish-out-of-water children's caper, with the Smurfs struggling to adapt to their new environment and befriending a human (a rather wooden Neil Patrick Harris) who helps them. What follows is tame, as the story plays out predictably with little surprise or intelligent humour.

Likely to enthral very small children only, The Smurfs starts with promise but peters out into something bland.

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