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The Super Mario Bros. Movie

CG Reviews: The Super Mario Bros. Movie
Review written by Christian Garcia

Today's CG Reviews: The Super Mario Bros. Movie!!!

Having been a Mario fan since childhood, I was excited when this film was announced. However, given the result of Mario's previous venture into film, I remained cautiously optimistic. But as more of the film was being revealed, I grew more optimistic and excited!

Was this film good enough to receive a Gold Power Star? Or more worthy of a Poison Mushroom??

Let's-A-Go and review the Super Mario Bros. Movie!!!

Brothers Mario and Luigi recently started their own plumbing business in Brooklyn. Their family and friends disapprove of the decision but Mario is the type to never know when to give up and presses on. After attempting to fix a manhole leak in the city, Mario and Luigi end up getting sucked into a Warp Pipe and separated. Mario winds up in the Mushroom Kingdom while Luigi lands in the Dark Lands, ruled by the evil King of the Koopas, Bowser. Mario seeks the help of Princess Peach in order to save his brother and return home while Peach enlists Mario's help to fend off an inevitable invasion from Bowser and his Koopa army.

The Film's Pros:
Successfully Captures the Spirit of the Video Games
The Super Mario Bros. games have always been about creative gameplay, simple storytelling, exploring imaginative worlds, collecting creative powerups, and most importantly: Fun.

The characters all feel like their videogame counterparts with even a touch of more personality, particularly Bowser and Donkey Kong. The worlds are very colorful, creative, and fun to look at with both the Mushroom Kingdom and the Jungle Kingdom being major standouts. The adventure our heroes go on while not too deep in terms of plot is still a fun and simple adventure to keep you entertained. It felt like going on a Mario amusement park ride. You enjoy the ride and all the cool stuff you see along the way and at the end are happy for having had the experience.

The biggest issue with the 1993 film Super Mario Bros. was that it felt nothing like the games. The worlds were dull and bleak, the characters were nothing like their video game counterparts, and in trying to make it a dark and deep sci-fi film, it wound up appealing to no one. This film learned from that film's mistakes and the combined efforts of Illumination, Universal Pictures, and Nintendo have created an experience that stays true to the classic video games. For fans who hated the 1993 film for the simple fact that it was nothing like the games, they can rest assured that this film does everything to emulate the games and then some.

As a fan of the games, there were so many references and callbacks to the games that made the child in me smile ear to ear. Getting to see them racing across Rainbow Road on the big screen would have made my 5-year-old self cry happy tears. The musical scoring in this film was incredible in recreating the classic themes from the original games. The film itself felt like a Mario game that I would love to play and explore.

This film packs all the fun and creativity that one can expect from a Mario game and even if you are not a fan of the games or have never played them, this film does a great job in making you want to! If you're a longtime Mario fan or even a casual Mario fan, this is the Super Mario Bros. experience you have been waiting for!!

Jack Black as Bowser
When the voice acting cast was first announced for this film, many fans were skeptical about the casting choices, particularly the choices of Chris Pratt as Mario and Jack Black as Bowser. The voice acting in this film is pretty solid with everyone fulfilling their roles well. Many fans were worried after hearing Pratt's Mario without the accent but thankfully he does put in a solid performance. But the real show stealer, as I predicted, was Jack Black's performance as Bowser.

As the years have gone by, the more I have come to appreciate Jack Black's acting and comedic talents. In films like Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Tropic Thunder, he steals the show and does it again. Given that Bowser, as well as the rest of the Mario crew, have never spoken before it was a challenge to have to create a voice that would sound how we envision King Koopa. Black plays Bowser as both an intimidating threat but also as a hilarious goofball and hopeless romantic. Given that most of the characters in this film are pretty one-dimensional, Black's Bowser has the most layers to him as he is a power-hungry monster who is also hopelessly in love with Princess Peach. The romantic ballad of "Peaches" was the highlight of the film and has been stuck in my head since.

Jack Black sounded like he had fun with this role and gave his all into it and it shows in another show-stealing performance that is the highlight of the entire film.

The Film's Cons:

The Story and Pacing
Before I saw the film, I saw many critics giving it poor scores on sites like Rotten Tomatoes. But I always like to avoid reviews before films and go in completely blind so I can have my own experience. I enjoyed this film greatly and enjoyed the experience as a Mario fan and as a moviegoer. But I am remiss to call this a flawless movie as it is not.

While this film is an enjoyable experience that any child or Mario fan will enjoy, the film's greatest weaknesses are its pacing and its story. The story in this film is very simple and doesn't have depth to it. The pacing is pretty fast-paced jumping from scene to scene and not really giving time for things to breathe and not allowing for a lot of character moments. And yes, while those are major flaws, I do not believe that they are bad enough to ruin the entire experience. Could the story have been so much more? Yes. Could there have been room for more character moments and development? Yes. But at the end of the day, you have to remember one important thing: this is a Super Mario Bros. movie.

What do I mean by that? The Super Mario Bros games have always had simple plots with no real story or character development. Honestly, had the film tried to add more character and depth to the film, I am sure fans of the franchise would probably not have liked it or may have even scoffed at the idea. The live-action Super Mario Bros. tried to go more complex and deep and instead turned out a colossal failure that appealed to no one. As I stated above, this film does an excellent job at capturing the feel and vibe of the games, and one aspect that is also tried and true to the games is jumping from world to world with no real plot threading it all together.

If you go into this movie looking for something deeper, you will be disappointed. However, I doubt many were expecting depth and complexity in a Super Mario Bros. Movie and its absence didn't hurt the movie for me.

Final Thoughts:
The Super Mario Bros. Movie is an enjoyable experience that perfectly captures the feeling and creativity that made the original video games so popular. While its story is nothing special and the characters are not thoroughly fleshed out, the imaginative worlds they explore and the feeling of joy and enchantment that the film brings more than makes up for it.

As a 28-year-old man who grew up with these games, this is the Mario film that I wish that I had as a child growing up. As an adult, I see it as a fun and solid film that kids and fans of the series will enjoy. As the 5-year-old who loved Mario, this film would have been my new obsession.

The film is successful in serving two masters. It is an experience that longtime fans of the games will enjoy as it packs great callbacks and fan service that they will enjoy and it is also a film that will appeal to casual fans and newcomers. As I said before, if you watch this film and have never played a Mario game in your life, this film will make you want to.

Seeing how the film has already set several box office records including the biggest worldwide opening weekend for an animated film, as well as the inclusion of a post-credit scene, I am confident that there will be a sequel down the line and I am excited to see what Nintendo and Illumination come up with for Mario's next big screen adventure!!

As a Mario fan and a movie fan, I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it to Mario fans and to casual moviegoers. Grab your Mario hats and mushrooms and have a wonderful journey through the Mushroom Kingdom!!