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Review: The Super Mario Bros. Movie: A fun but strange mushroom tale

By Santiago Brion | April 17, 2023

Super Mario is the new movie from Illumination Entertainment and Nintendo based on one of the most popular video game franchises of all time. The film follows two Italian-American brothers who enter the world that Mario fans are familiar with. It is the first movie based on a Nintendo property since the dreadful live-action Mario movie from 1993. The movie centers on a classic Super Mario Bros. adventure: Mario helps Princess Peach to stop Browser from taking over the mushroom kingdom while also saving his brother, Luigi.

Super Mario Bros (1993) was a completely unfaithful adaptation of the games with criticism towards its cast, changes, and horrible visual effects. Super Mario Bros. (2023) gets everything right about the world of Mario. With its many callbacks and easter eggs, Super Mario is a treat for Mario fans; if only the film had a concrete story to go with them.

The casting of Chris Pratt as Mario was a major concern for fans as he is not of Italian descent, though his voice as the Nintendo mascot isn’t as bad as many would predict. Charlie Day as Luigi added a comedic and relatable performance, though he is sidelined in the film when he and Mario separate.

Anya Taylor-Joy as Peach isn’t anything special, but her character does have notable moments, namely a scene where she rides on a motorcycle through the castle. In a future sequel, she does have potential to be a fully developed and powerful woman. Keegan Michael-Key as Toad, is also sidelined in favor of comedic relief that never truly lands, but the core bond that he and Peach develop throughout the movie show that he’s a great ally to Mario and friends.Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong, an ape who’s the son of the monkey king, is easy for Rogen who excels at playing hilarious characters.

Jack Black as Bowser carries the entire movie on his spiked shell. Bowser brings his energy into the role as a larger than life villain, adding humor and personality into this role. His talent as a musician shines in the song “Peaches'' which feels like an Elton John concert. The soundtrack further includes remixes of classic Mario instrumental level music and songs like the Beastie Boys’ “No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn.”

What makes the Mario movie stand on its own is the accuracy to the source material, mainly its characters, levels, stunning animation and gameplay easter eggs. The film utilizes the Mario games’ one-dimensional platform gaming style involving Mario jumping on enemies and over obstacles. There are even small teasers to a potential sequel like the appearance of a Yoshi egg.

The film’s storyline is unfortunately pushed to the wayside in favor of a simple movie to please fans. It’s very likely that the production team were too scared to get Mario completely wrong and didn’t want to risk having immense backlash from a toxic fandom from Nintendo Reddit sites.

It also has a strange tone in which any serious moment with a character is interrupted by comedic relief or a problem is solved within seconds. The film moves at a quick pace which barely gives the characters any development.

As a whole, you get what you pay your $13 for in terms of an entertaining popcorn flick. The animation is one of the better looking movies from Illumination, a studio that is known for the minions from “Despicable Me”. The runtime of an hour and a half is just right for the young target audience, and it is still an enjoyable movie.

I give it a 6/10

The Super Mario Bros. Movie is now playing at Regal Crossgates and Regal Colonie Center


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