Nintendo have been shaking off the sensational stink of the last Mario movie, which ‘celebrates’ its 30th birthday this year. A bizarre, nightmarish live-action take on the Italian platforming plumber that continues to live through cult appeal. With the bar set so tremendously low for this modern makeover, it seems a success – no matter how small – will look to bury its previous iteration to the bowels of Bowser’s castle.
Speaking of which, Bowser – who is wonderfully and very enthusiastically voiced by Jack Black – is the big bad of this levelled up look on the popular side-scroller, to no surprise of fans of the wildly popular game franchise. After obtaining the super star, Bowser sets his sights on Mushroom Kingdom and Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy), but two Italian-American plumbing brothers from Brooklyn named Mario and Luigi (voiced by Chris Pratt and Charlie Day respectively), throw a spanner in the works when they are sucked through a warp pipe and enter his world.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie takes a threadbare approach to its story. Using a combination of all of Mario’s properties throughout its years, to create something that could have easily been whipped up using an AI generator. But it’s the effort put in by its voice actors and striking animation that looks to make this another big hit for animation studio Illumination.
This is of course a movie geared towards a younger audience, and it’s perhaps worth reminding yourself of that fact before watching it yourself. It doesn’t have quite the same level of highbrow humour as the likes of the Lego Movie (2014), or perplexing and thought provoking narrative as many of Pixar’s projects. Its bold, bright colour palette, the characters it introduces, and the easy to follow and very brisk story it showcases will be more than enough to keep the children entertained, but will likely leave more to be desired for the dedicated fans who are looking to nestle nostalgically in the loving arms of a project popping with potential.
Stacked with references and call-backs that fans of the games can enjoy and appreciate. From the character cameo’s, to recognisable story beats, and a soundtrack littered with memorable musical moments throughout its gaming tenure, The Super Mario Bros. Movie does what the ‘93 dystopian disaster simply could not, create something that the fans can recognise and understand.
With the recent resurgence of popular results of video game adaptations, The Super Mario Bros. Movie can rightfully join the ranks of successes, and unlike a certain SEGA produced speedy blue hedgehog, Mario manages to keep it all animated, making that transition from 8-bit to 80 feet more seamless and sublime.