“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” Review: A Video Game Come to Life

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“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” Rating: 4/5

Crazy to think that 2023 is the first time we have Mario and Luigi on screen (disregarding the 1993 adaption). But here we are!

For their big screen debut, Mario and Luigi decide to start a plumbing business. When falling into a pipe, they’re transported to the Mushroom Kingdom. Luigi is quickly captured by the ruthless Bowser, so Mario must go on a journey to rescue his brother. Along the way, he encounters companions such as Princess Peach, Toad and Donkey Kong. They must defeat Bowser, save Luigi and prevent the kingdom’s destruction.

Positives

I have been anticipating this movie for a long time. The Mario games were some of the few video games I enjoyed growing up. I found them accessible, simple and fun.

Here, the film adaption follows a similar formula. In a market full of long films, audiences will be pleased to hear that the movie is only ninety minutes. This allows for a quick excursion that will please kids and adults alike.

I enjoyed how the love and care for the gameplay was at the forefront. Easter eggs are scattered throughout the story, taking followers of all ages on a journey through the history of the Mario games. It’s clear the filmmakers are fans of the game. How refreshing to see!

The most impressive aspect of the film is the animation. From the first frame, I could tell the animation crew did their best to create the most immersive imagery possible. Seriously, the detail was impeccable. From each hair on Mario’s mustache to the layering of Bowser’s scales, I truly felt like I was on screen with the characters. 3D or Dolby format is recommended.

Voice acting was also an area of concern during the marketing campaign. I’m happy to report that most of it is quite good! Standouts were Jack Black as Bowser, Charlie Day as Luigi and even Chris Pratt as Mario. Some on the internet were reacting to the “inconsistent” voice work, but thinking about it…the game voices for Mario and Luigi would be nauseating for a feature length film. The actors do great work making the characters relatable for a full movie. Trust me, it’s is a good change.

During my screening, I could overhear parents explaining some of the references to their kids. What a nice treat to see parents bonding with their kids over their love of the Mario brand. That’s why this film will be a special experience — Mario is a generational game. Fans of all ages can forget about everything else going on and get lost within this world. I quite enjoyed the simple story too. Mario has never been a complex game, so keeping it simple and fun (at least for the first movie) does the job nicely. I really enjoyed feeling like a kid again, reliving the nostalgia that inspired me to play the game many years ago. “Super Mario Bros. Movie” is a movie that doesn’t require complex thought or the deconstruction of the human existence. It instead succeeds in providing a colorful adventure that will entertain all who see it. I was able to take my critic hat off and just enjoy. Props for that.

Negatives

While Mario’s big screen debut will appease the target demographic, I could see those unfamiliar with the source material being disappointed. Audiences who’ve played Mario games over the years will appreciate the easter eggs and references consuming the screen. But viewers who don’t have that nostalgia will likely find this story very one-note. The history and layers of the Mario world are likely to escape their attention. Perhaps an approach that caught audience members up would have been more effective? Then again, the filmmakers were fans making a movie for other fans. So catch yourself up on the Mario lore before you see it!

I’ll admit that the story is a bit too simple for my usual preferences. But it succeeds where it needs to, capitalizing on many fun attributes of the games. Some of the music choices were strange as well. Standard Mario themes are combined with 80s rock and pop. While I didn’t love the older music in this particular film, I understand that audience members from the original era will appreciate it. Sometimes making the fans happy is all you need, right?

Conclusion

I’m thrilled to say that “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is a success! It’s a movie made for the fans that will entertain all ages. I was grinning from ear to ear the entire time, indulging in all the nostalgia. It won’t be the most interesting film to come out this year, but having fun is the main goal.

Eye popping animation and creative references to the game will transport audiences into the Mushroom Kingdom with ease. Grab your popcorn and get the family out to the movies. Check this one out!

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