Thirty years after the first Super Mario Bros. movie ended as a huge flop, Mario has made his return to the big screen in The Super Mario Bros. Movie in a collaborative effort between Nintendo and Illumination. While the new Mario movie is not perfect, this time fans will not walk away disappointed.
The movie features a simple storyline where Mario and Luigi start out as two struggling plumbers in Brooklyn. As they attempt to fix some pipes underneath the city, Luigi accidently warps into another world and Mario goes after him. Unfortunately, Luigi ends up in Bowser’s territory, while Mario finds himself in the Mushroom Kingdom with Toad and Princess Peach.
At this point, Bowser’s crush on Peach is revealed, and Bowser becomes furious when he captures Luigi and learns that Mario is training with Peach.
As others mentioned, the plotlines do not run too deep in this movie. Then again, the Super Mario Bros. series rarely had great storylines in its video games either, with the exception of the heartwarming Super Mario Galaxy.
To say the Mario movie offers no storyline is wrong as well. The limited storylines that exist here work well enough to keep everything in motion, while the movie offers more in terms of game references and Easter eggs. In other words, kids will enjoy the basic plots, while older gamers will pay attention mostly because of those past game references and Easter eggs.
Because The Super Mario Bros Movie is computer animated, the producers were given freedom to explore worlds within the Mario and Donkey Kong video games, rather than reduce themselves to only a city setting as in the live-action Super Mario Bros. The characters and world in the new Mario movie honor the games closely since they had the freedom with animation.
For the most part, the voice actors in the Mario movie did a great job. When the first trailer came about, many fans were worried because Nintendo and Illumination chose Chris Pratt to voice Mario, but his voice sounds fine as the character. Notice how the complaints over Pratt’s Mario voice died down.
Charlie Day’s Luigi voice compliments the voice Pratt gave to Mario. Day just offers the right accent that feels like Luigi’s voice. Anya Taylor-Joy lends a confident voice to Princess Peach. Even if Taylor-Joy does not sound as high-pitched as the character does in the video games, the voice works for a full-length movie format. Jack Black stands out as Bowser with the deep and intimidating voice, and he gives the best performance out of the main cast.
If any weak points exists within the main cast, Seth Rogen is the one that falls a little short. When fans hear his Donkey Kong voice, it will sound like Rogen, which feels kind of lazy compared to the rest of the cast voices. Nevertheless, this minor mistake does not make the film unwatchable.
Now to discuss the animation quality and overall aesthetics of the movie. Illumination’s team made the Mushroom Kingdom look incredibly rich and detailed, as well as the Jungle World and Brooklyn. When people think of computer animated movies, they think of Disney and Pixar. But Illumination may start to make Disney sweat now with their success in the Mario movie.
As for the movie’s soundtrack, expect to hear some familiar Mario game themes and a few 80s radio classics thrown into the mix as well. Yes, The Super Mario Bros. Movie features older music not related to Mario or any video game, but the non-game related songs they threw in fit the movie.
Some viewers who only want to see game-related material might complain about the 80s songs, but they actually add to the retro atmosphere.
Another topic to address is whether this movie is “woke” or “anti-woke.” The Super Mario Bros. Movie has accidently found itself in the middle of the culture wars in America. But the truth is that the movie falls on neither side.
The Mario movie does not give the impression of a “woke” film. With that said, Peach does seem a little “too perfect” when she demonstrates to Mario how to run the obstacle course and then brags that she learned it quickly.
Overall though, Peach needs Mario to help defend the kingdom against Bowser and Mario needs Peach to save Luigi. Think of them as a team.
At the same time, the Mario movie is not “anti-woke” either. It feels like the goal of Nintendo and Illumination was to please gamers by honoring the source material and creating a world that looks similar to the Mario games, and they accomplished that goal while adding a story that offends no one.
The box office success of The Super Mario Bros. Movie shows that people were hungry for this type of non-offending film void of any controversies. From a non-biased standpoint though, sure, the storyline feels a little too thin, while the movie moves too rapidly at some points. Regardless, The Super Mario Bros. Movie offers a few interesting relationships and lessons.
For example, the bond between Mario and Luigi came across as interesting, as well as Mario’s will to never give up even when the odds are against him. The movies touches upon family ties and how hard work eventually pays off.
Mario fans can expect a fun ride when watching this Mario game disguised as a movie. However, do not expect a deep story or anything that resembles a “woke” or “anti-woke” movie. Instead, focus on the beautiful environment, excellent music and the plethora of Mario game references and Easter eggs.
About the Author
Reinier has been an enthusiastic writer his entire life, later attending California State University, Stanislaus where he earned an English Master of Arts degree. He grew up with a Nintendo Entertainment System as his first console and still plays a wide range of retro games. In recent years, Reinier wrote for Nerd Reactor, a website covering video games and other nerd material. Now, he writes horse racing articles and contributes to Phillip Schneider.
This article (The Super Mario Bros Movie Review – a Fun Ride) originally appeared at Phillip Schneider and may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author credit, and this copyright statement.