Watching this for the first time after seeing most episodes of the cartoon, it took me two viewings to really get into it. Having loved the Smurfs since childhood, the season 1 and 2 box sets have really brought back some wonderful memories, and on first viewing, I was a little disappointed with this film. It's definitely not bad, it's very good entertainment, fun and musical, however there are several differences to the Smurfs TV show. The film was released in 1976, five years before the Saturday morning cartoon started, and was also made with no involvement from Hanna-Barbera. Therefore the animation style is different, the voices are not the same, and even some of the names have been changed. In the UK version, which is the one featured on the Blu-ray (the same as the one on the 1985 VHS), the characters Johan and Peewit are named John and William, Grouchy Smurf is named Grumpy, and Hefty is called Strong-Man Smurf here. There's also no Gargamel or Smurfette to be found here. It's a film that is certainly closer to the original Smurfs comics from the 50's, so depending on whether someone might have grown up with a preference either for the comics or for the show, it is still great for Smurfs fans, but some of them might find it disappointing.
Onto the Blu-ray quality, and this, to my knowledge, is the first time that independent studio Fabulous Films has released any title on the format. So how is it? To my great surprise, it's a very impressive transfer. Yes, it was never going to be the same level of high quality as something like Avatar, but it's still good. The colours are bright and tones of the picture well balanced, a little softness suits it perfectly, making the brightness sharp would've ruined it, I think. The audio is generally clear as well, however one of my biggest problems was with the song where William tries to talk in Smurf language. The characters sing so quickly that it can be very hard to understand what they are saying. While I thought this added humourous value to the scene, I think some others might be annoyed by it. And like the Smurfs DVD releases, there are no subtitles whatsoever. It's great that Arrow Films and Fabulous Films are bringing these characters back to home video in the UK, but on future season releases, they really need to add subtitles to the discs. There's also not a lot in the way of bonus features, and nothing to watch, just a few things to look at or read on the screen.
All in all this is a very good transfer for an entertaining film that not all Smurfs fans will enjoy, but all should check out sometime, if just to see where it all began.