By Nicholas Carpenter || Contributing Writer
Ever since the box office bomb and critical failure of Super Mario Bros. (1993), Nintendo has been reluctant to allow a movie studio to create an adaptation of the iconic franchise. In 2017, Nintendo made a deal with Illumination, the studio behind the Despicable Me and Minions franchises, to produce an animated adaptation of the Mario games. Nintendo’s Creative Fellow and original creator of Mario, Shigeru Miyamoto, would co-produce the film with Illumination’s Chris Meledandri to ensure that the direction of the movie was going the way Nintendo wanted. Four years later, the film was released worldwide (with the exception of Japan and South Korea) on April 5, 2023. The film proceeded to break several records, including the biggest worldwide opening for an animated movie. It became the highest-grossing video game adaptation a week later.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie is a faithful adaptation of the Mario games first and foremost. As an animated film, the movie perfectly replicates the whimsical animation of the games and the iconic character designs. The music of the film was composed by Brian Tyler, who worked with Mario franchise composer Koji Kondo to create a soundtrack with remixed versions of classic Mario themes. For fans of the Mario series and Nintendo in general, the film will be a phenomenal experience filled with fan-service, including characters, locations, items, and music from the Mario games. If you don’t have much knowledge about the Mario games, there is still plenty of fast-paced action and comedic moments to be enjoyed by families. The Super Mario Bros. Movie has a thin plot, as the film focuses on being fun and entertaining over telling a deep and compelling story. If a deep story is what you want out of the film, the film is not for you. The movie is only one hour and thirty minutes long, which forces the movie to “rush” through some scenes and spend less time developing characters. However, this also is a positive for the movie, as it never feels like it drags on, going between action-packed scenes quickly.
The cast is filled with star-studded Hollywood actors voicing the famous Mario characters. The main character, Mario, is played by Chris Pratt of Jurassic World and Guardians of the Galaxy fame. His timid brother Luigi is played by Charlie Day, who is famous for his role in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The villain of the film, the monstrous and intimidating Bowser, is played by Jack Black, who played the lead roles in School of Rock and the Kung Fu Panda films. The courageous princess of the Mushroom Kingdom, Princess Peach, is played by Anya Taylor-Joy, known for The Queen’s Gambit. Other characters include Keagan-Michael Key as Toad and Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong. Mario’s voice actor in the games, Charles Martinet, voices several cameos throughout the movie. The voice actors have been the subject of ridicule ever since they were announced back in 2021, and while some of them are disappointing, they all do a great job of voicing their respective character. The standout is Jack Black who delivers a menancing, powerful, and emotional voice of Bowser. In the film, Bowser also sings a love song directed toward Princess Peach called Peaches, which is a powerful (and goofy) piano ballad about his intense, unrequited love toward the princess.The Super Mario Bros. Movie is a fun, action-packed, engaging family film, but if you aren’t familiar with the Mario franchise, it won’t be much more. If you go to see the movie, be sure not to miss the two post-credits scenes, with the latter teasing a potential sequel to the film. Video game adaptations are having a resurgance in popularity after the success of the two Sonic the Hedgehog live-action movies, Detective Pikachu, and the recent television adaptation of The Last of Us. The Super Mario Bros. Movie being a commercial success could pave the way for even more video games to get big-screen adaptations. While many video game adaptations struggle with staying true to their source material, the powerful duo of Nintendo and Illumination have succeeded at creating a film that is both entertaining and faithful to the Mario games.
Nicholas Carpenter is a Contributing Writer. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.