Grab your super mushrooms and fire flowers, moviegoers! The Super Mario Bros. Movie has finally jumped its way into theaters. The movie is brought to you by Nintendo and Illumination as a feature-length CGI-animated adaptation of the Super Mario franchise of video games. The last time Hollywood tried to adapt the plumbers’ adventures to the big screen 30 years ago, they were less than successful. However, video game adaptations have come a long way in the past three decades so they at least have a fighting chance this time around. Is this movie a triumphant victory at the end of the flagpole or is it a disappointing “game over”? Let’s-a go and find out!
It goes without saying that the film is a well-paced, adrenaline-filled blast from beginning to end. The filmmakers were able to successfully pay homage to the longstanding video game franchise and truly captured what has made the series so fun and accessible since the 1980s. The animation is beautiful, colorful, and crisp, showcasing the absolute best quality work so far from Illumination. The lighting, art design, and fluid movement perfectly transport the viewer to the mushroom kingdom in a way the games never truly have. The original orchestral score derives its themes from classic Mario tunes and is quite well-composed and organized in such a way that pays respects to the songs from the games while also putting an original spin on them. Lastly, the voice cast all do quite well in performing their roles. Every actor fits their character, and while they don’t exactly replicate the voices from the games, they do deliver at capturing the spirit and essence of those iconic roles. Despite the concerns online about the casting choice of Chris Pratt as Mario, Pratt holds his own throughout and gives a competent performance overall. However, the best performances in the film easily come from Charlie Day as Luigi and Jack Black as Bowser, who both bring a lot of energy to their performances to make their characters stand out among the rest.
While the film succeeds in many ways, it isn’t without its faults, as shown by its mixed critical reception (despite very high audience scores). The story is very basic and rushes many key plot points and character development in order to maintain a brisk pace. Due to its short 92-minute run time, it feels at times like it could have been a little better developed had it extended the run time an additional 10-15 minutes to give the story and characters more room to breathe. However, the thin plot and simplistic characters are very much in line with those from the games, so they do not detract much from the overall experience.
Overall, The Super Mario Bros. Movie is a fun-filled, love letter to the franchise filled to the brim with references and Easter eggs celebrating the history of the beloved gaming icon that has defined the childhoods of so many people. While it has its flaws, the film shows that there is a bright future ahead for video game film adaptations and that Nintendo itself may be putting Marvel to shame with its own cinematic universe in the years to come.