A Star-Studded Presentation with Little Substance: The Super Mario Bros. Movie Review


The long-awaited The Super Mario Bros. Movie finally came out on the 6th of April. Adapted from the iconic Nintendo video game series, the highly anticipated film was delivered with a celebrity-filled voice acting cast including Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Pratt, and Jack Black. Although the film gained a lot of excitement and high hopes from the general public ahead of its release, it received lots of strongly contrasting reviews, even from long-time fans.


Animated films have undoubtedly been stealing the hearts of many in recent years (e.g. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish and The Minions: Rise of Gru). The continuously evolving film industry has opened up limitless possibilities for animation and the familiar cartoons we grew up with have become so advanced. The Super Mario Bros. Movie was everything you would expect and everything you wouldn’t as well. It was a visually amazing film with a phenomenal soundtrack of the remastered iconic game tunes. It was wonderfully animated, and it is obvious that the filmmakers put in a lot of effort to appeal to all your senses.


Not only did it have amazing graphics, but the soundtrack was unexpectedly great too. Most audiences would expect to hear the good old regular game tunes that appear in the video games. However, the film brought the auditory experience to new heights with its remastered soundtrack. The high-quality soundtrack could easily be standalone pieces of music you listen to in your downtime. It was luxurious and majestic, filled with great textures provided by an actual orchestra. The producers made lots of really smart choices with the music and brought it to new heights by incorporating different styles of music – from classical to 8-bit to hip hop – in the soundtrack. The interesting changes and additions to Koji Kondo’s original music brought freshness and intricacy to the music and reinvented the scores that have been familiar to us for decades. The music was recreated successfully, served its purpose extraordinarily, and allowed listeners to truly feel present in the Mario world.


One of the highlights of the film was definitely the incomparable performance between Bowser on screen combined with famous comedian Jack Black behind the scenes. Jack Black’s interpretation of Bowser was absolutely perfect, and I couldn’t think of anyone more suited for the role. Jack Black’s voice was already quite similar to Bowser’s original voice in the game but the way that he delivered his raspy, villainous lines made it all extra convincing. If you are an avid social media user, I’m sure you would have come across a video of Bowser singing “Peaches” in his own fancy music video. It was a witty way to promote the film and show a different side of this big and mean character. Bowser was not just a scary old villain but also the comic relief that constantly surprised us with dramatic episodes as he confessed his unrequited love. Needless to say, Bowser carried the movie on his turtle-shelled back.


Anya Taylor-Joy was also an interesting voice-casting choice as the original Princess Peach has a rather high-pitched and squeaky voice in the video game series. But this was a pleasant surprise because Anya Taylor-Joy’s voice acting actually matched seamlessly with the stronger and more dominant Princess Peach of the film. Her voice created more depth for the character and introduced us to a new side of our familiar Princess Peach. Chris Pratt, on the other hand, was less believable as Mario as he struggled to embody the character of an Italian plumber. He still sounded very much like himself, and the tone of his voice acting was closer to Starlord in Guardians of the Galaxy rather than Mario, which became somewhat distracting during the film.


Despite the extremely detailed graphics and innovative music, The Super Mario Bros. Movie did not meet the high expectations of fans and was surprisingly low scoring on Rotten Tomatoes. As someone who grew up playing Super Mario Bros. on the 3DS and the Wii, it was hard to give an unbiased review when I saw all the familiar characters on the cinema's screen. But as much as I hate to admit it, the plot was slow-moving and lacked the momentum to keep my attention throughout the film.


The Super Mario Bros. Movie followed a basic hero’s adventure route that was simple and concise for an hour-and-a-half film. The lack of complexity remained true to the authentic and traditional Super Mario storyline, but this led to the downfall of its plot, as it became predictable. That being said, the viewer’s loyalty towards the franchise is enough to keep you sitting through the entire movie despite the film’s simplicity. The static plot had simple humour, targeted towards younger audiences, and there were many moments that earned chuckles and put a smile on your face. The characters were reconstructed cleverly, making them more relatable towards audiences of today’s society. The ‘bromance’ between Mario and Luigi surely tugged at some heartstrings and delivered meaningful and heart-warming moments in the film. Nostalgia undoubtedly played a big part in the hype of the movie. Whether you are four or forty years old, everyone can enjoy this film that stays faithful to the memorable video games of their childhood.


It was also nice to break away from the typical strong-man-who-saves-the-fragile-lady plot and see a powerful and independent princess instead. Princess Peach is usually the one being trapped in a tower and saved in the past, thus it was nice to see the screenwriters change up the plot to suit modern-day values. Peach’s short but impactful character arc served as a great example of women's empowerment and sent a great message, especially to the younger audience. Although Peach has been a playable character in the Super Mario games since 1988, we don’t really think of her in the role of a leader. So, this was a great character development for Peach, and I was pleased to see her character reach new heights. When Luigi acted as the damsel in distress, it surely added some element of surprise, but it still couldn’t deter the film from its foreseeable happy ending. Thus, it would have been interesting to see greater changes in this film for the sake of their older audiences. The film had a lot of potential and it could have expanded on Mario’s worldview and explored different areas, such as the Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Odyssey series. Thus, we could probably look forward to seeing other aspects of the Mario universe in the future.


Overall, The Super Mario Bros. Movie was an incredibly high-quality film that had a regrettably lacking plot. Low expectation does wonders for many things, especially to create a better experience of watching a somewhat static film. It would be a great way to spend your evening if you don’t know what to do. The characters were charming and easy to watch, and the film served as a great way for Nintendo fans to reminisce about their childhood favourites. I would 100% recommend this film to any Super Mario or Nintendo fan. But for someone who has a picky taste for films, you should rethink your options before you checkout.

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