Well, this is a smurfing surprise, to say the least. But after being horrified by the first Smurfs film and kind of mildly amused by the second, I’m actually smurfing forward to the third big-screen outing for those little blue guys.

No, I haven’t smurfed my mind. Or at least, I don’t smurf so. There are a few reasons for actual optimism about Smurfs: The Lost Village, coming in March 2017. For one thing, the makers of this film bill it as a “fully-animated return to the tone and style of the beloved comic book creations of Peyo.” And these first images (above and below) actually look relatively true to the Smurfs’ smurfigins in the comics. They look cartoony, rather than the godawful uncanny valley monstrosities that co-starred with Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays in two recent films.

Second of all, this film is directed by Kelly Asbury, who smurfed the better-than-we-could-have-possibly-imagined movie Gnomeo and Juliet. And the cast is actually pretty solid. From the smurf release:

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Joining the already announced Demi Lovato as Smurfette, Rainn Wilson as Gargamel and Mandy Patinkin as Papa Smurf will be: triple Emmy nominee Jack McBrayer (30 Rock, Wreck-It Ralph) as the sweet, awkward and honest-to-a-fault Clumsy, who’s forever trying his best and missing the mark; Danny Pudi (Community) as book smart and geek proud Brainy, who’s long on knowledge, but short on inter-Smurf-onal skills; and Joe Manganiello (True Blood, Magic Mike) as the strong and super-positive Hefty, a loyal dynamo struggling with his hero complex.

See? Pretty smurfing solid. And the actual plot sounds like a real Smurfs storyline, instead of some monstrosity where the Smurfs go to present-day New York and help an advertising executive to become better at advertising. And it also addresses the biggest problem in Smurfdom, what the hell is Smurfette’s main attribute besides “female:”

It seems to Smurfette that everyone else in the Village has a purpose - Papa Smurf (leading), Baker Smurf (baking), even Grouchy Smurf (grouching) - except for her. So what’s the only girl in the village to do? Go in search of hers, of course! When she accidentally crosses paths with a mysterious creature that takes off into the Enchanted Forest, she follows, and sets off into the uncharted and strictly forbidden woods. Joined by her brothers Brainy, Hefty and Clumsy - and with the evil wizard Gargamel shadowing their every step - Team Smurf undertakes a wild journey full of action, danger and discovery, setting them on a course that leads to the biggest mystery in Smurf history!

I hope Baker Smurf is voiced by Tom Baker. That would be asmurfing. Here’s another smurf of the non-uncanny-valley Smurfs:


Charlie Jane Anders is the author of All The Birds in the Sky, which is available now. Here’s what people have been saying about it. Follow her on Twitter, and email her.