The character of Mario is an integral part of modern culture, and it’s hard to imagine it without the iconic mustached plumber in his red and blue suit. Nintendo always aims to maintain the highest standards for every Mario project they create. With the animated movie “Super Mario Bros. Movie”, the company attempts to venture into the realm of high-quality cinema. Below, we’ll discuss how the movie turned out in this review.
Genre: animated adventure
Director: Aaron Horvath, Michael Jelenic
Starring: Chris Pratt, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Day, Jack Black, Seth Rogen, Keegan-Michael Key
Mario and Luigi, the plumbers, try to get their lives together and decide to open their own business in Brooklyn. But instead of their usual work, they find themselves transported to magical kingdoms that are under threat from Bowser. He wants to make Princess Peach his bride and conquer the entire universe.
There’s already a movie adaptation of Mario, “Super Mario Bros.”, which came out in 1993 and was an extremely strange film even by the standards of the chaotic cinema of the 90s. Watching it today is agreeing to receive a very strange, almost otherworldly pleasure. But Nintendo doesn’t need that legacy, so with the new adaptation, the company decided to take a different path.
“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” 2023 version is a colorful animated adventure that surpasses all Mario video games in terms of graphics quality. Everything shines and sparkles here, and some scenes with lighting and shadows deserve separate analysis from the perspective of digital technology development.
You can already watch the movie just for its visually stunning part, which is both beautiful and, more importantly, unique. We don’t have another attempt to “be like Pixar” here, but something of our own.
However, graphics no longer surprise anyone. Especially when it comes to such a cult character as Mario. And here, Nintendo, along with Universal Pictures and Illumination, did something interesting. They did not directly adapt any of the video game plots, but took video game conventions and mechanics as a basis to give them meaning and awareness. After all, Mario games were never about plot, and many recognizable elements were simply perceived as a given. “Super Mario Bros. in the Movies” turns all these data into important script elements that are always relevant. It’s somewhat strange to see how the same invincibility star turns from a simple power-up into a plot device, but it makes for an even more interesting viewing.
The film actively plays with the nostalgic feelings of Mario fans. References here are more to the classic parts and moments rather than, for example, the relatively fresh Super Mario Odyssey. Even the blocks that are stuck in the air, which cannot be hidden from in any of the parts, have found context here and work within their universe.
And it’s even more disappointing that with such a rich background, “Super Mario Bros. in the Movies” obviously tries to please primarily the children’s audience. That’s why everything here is as bright as it is simple. Don’t expect any special plot twists or unexpected developments. You can predict the end of the story from the very first minutes of viewing, and every scene ends just as you think it will. Mario games have always remained accessible and friendly to everyone. But the authors managed to hide interesting subtexts and even ambiguous jokes for adults in them. The cartoon, however, doesn’t deal with anything like that at all. It’s as if it’s afraid to take risks, although it seemed that cartoons have long been entertainment for everyone. And hiding even hints of plot lines for adults at the level of insinuations has become good form.
The same “Detective Pikachu” could afford to take risks and wink at the audience with a smile so they wouldn’t get bored while their children/ younger siblings/ young viewers enjoyed the cute monsters on the screen. “Super Mario Bros. Movie” lacks such an element, and that is probably its main flaw. However, this is somewhat subjective, as not everyone wants “adult” elements.
But otherwise, we have a beautifully animated film. To be honest, nothing else was expected from Nintendo. The company’s quality control is insane, and Mario is its main symbol. Therefore, “Super Mario Bros. Movie” could not have turned out anything other than a good project.
The film sounds great. Its music component begs to be added to your playlists. It is diverse and dynamic, with constantly changing locations, so it’s enjoyable to follow even a somewhat simple storyline. The jokes are good here and actively utilize both the animation’s features and the video game genre’s legacy. Even the voice acting is well-done, both in Ukrainian and the original version.
From the very beginning, the movie about Mario was destined for success, as evidenced by its current record-breaking box office receipts. So it could have been worse and still made its money. Therefore, it is very pleasant that “Super Mario Bros. Movie” is far from being “worse.” And you don’t regret going to see the movie in the cinema, even if you don’t care about Mario as a game character.
Pros: The graphics are beautiful from both an artistic and technical standpoint. The action is highly dynamic, and the game adheres well to the Mario video game canon. The implementation of all the game mechanics as scripted elements is excellent.
Cons: The plot is somewhat simplistic, and the overall naivete of what’s happening may not appeal to or may even disturb younger viewers.
Conclusion: Nintendo and its main character have burst onto the world of animated films with great success. Mario looks so fitting on the big screen that it’s impossible to imagine life without him in this format. Just don’t take it too seriously while watching, or all the impressions will be lost.