Nintendo’s 42-year-old Mario franchise made it to the big screen on April 5 in the latest animated blockbuster, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie.”
After the announcement of an unusual cast of voice actors, with Chris Pratt as Mario, Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong and Jack Black as Bowser, many fans had reasonable concerns that their beloved video game characters would not be adapted to film faithfully.
Those concerns were thankfully unfounded, as the story was clearly made with fans of the Mario games in mind. “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” features many scenes that include elements from Super Mario, Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart and more. These fan-pleasing moments emerge organically throughout the story. They feel less like a box being ticked off a list of mandated easter eggs and more like meaningful nods to fans that have played the games for years.
In an interview with Extra TV, Pratt explained the mindset he had while making the movie.
“This is the soundtrack to your youth,” Pratt said. “You don’t want someone to come along and cynically kind of destroy it as a cash grab with a movie. I fully understand that, you do not want that to happen, and there are so many hearts and souls and minds dedicated to making sure that didn’t happen.”
While this story and its characters aren’t complicated, they’re executed well.
Princess Peach, voiced by Anya Taylor-Joy, is a capable leader who cares about her subjects and Mario. He and his brother Luigi, voiced by Charlie Day, are charismatic and fun to watch when they’re on-screen together. Bowser is a hilarious villain determined to force Peach to marry him, and with Black in the role, the character is the source of many unforgettable moments in the film.
After being transported into the Mushroom Kingdom and getting separated from his brother, Mario is forced to journey across the world, making allies and fighting enemies in search of Luigi.
Each protagonist is forced to overcome some form of adversity. An obvious example is Luigi, who evolves from being anxious and reliant on Mario, to fighting alongside him in defeating Bowser.
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The 92-minute runtime leaves little padding but also prevents the story from further developing many of the characters.
As expected, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is visually impressive. The animation is top-notch, and each character, location and power-up looks perfectly adapted from the games.
The movie is full of overt and subtle references. Even the differences in how characters move is taken directly from the games, showing a level of attention to detail above most animators.
The soundtrack did a good job of incorporating classic theme songs and sound effects at just the right amount to amplify scenes while not diverting attention away from what’s happening. Surprisingly, many pop songs were also included in the movie, but were incorporated into scenes naturally enough.
“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” has already become the highest-grossing video game movie adaptation of all time and is well on its way to making a billion dollars. According to statements made by Nintendo executive Shigeru Miyamoto, this is just the beginning of the partnership between Nintendo and the animation company, Illumination.
Overall, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is a fantastic experience for longtime fans and a decent animated film for newcomers to the franchise.