The Super Mario Bros. Movie Is Super-fun
Reading Time: 3 minutes
The Super Mario Bros. franchise has captivated children and adults alike since 1985. The 2023 film, The Super Mario Bros. Movie, is the newest addition to a long line of remakes and adaptations of the beloved video game. Produced by a partnership between animation studio Illumination and video game company Nintendo, this playful film unites new and old fans alike, bringing Mario to life on the big screen once more.
The film follows Mario after he and his brother, Luigi, are sucked down a pipe and into a magical world. Mario lands in Mushroom Kingdom, where he meets Toad, while Luigi lands in the Dark Land, ruled by the evil Bowser. Bowser vows to either marry Princess Peach, ruler of Mushroom Kingdom, or destroy the land. Mario embarks on an adventure to foil Bowser’s evil plans and find Luigi. From the iconic Rainbow Road from the Mario Kart spinoff franchise to Mini Mushrooms, and ?-blocks, the film features many references to the beloved video games, offering a modern take and providing both a nostalgic refuge for old fans and a fantastical introduction into Mario’s world for new ones.
The film features a star-studded cast of celebrities. Chris Pratt’s casting as Mario sent the internet into a frenzy, with some criticizing the studio for not casting an Italian actor. Pratt also received backlash after the trailer release, as some felt his voice was too different from Charles Martinet’s, the original Mario voice actor. Despite this controversy, fans of the franchise were pleasantly surprised when the film was released on April 5; while Pratt’s voice did disappoint high fan expectations, Jack Black’s menacing voice as Bowser kept audiences on the edge of their seats. In addition to his voice acting, Black also contributed a humorous and catchy song, titled “Peaches,” to the film’s soundtrack, where he laments his hopeless love for Princess Peach. The song has gained popularity and even been nominated for several awards, adding to the film’s success.
However, the film's stunning visuals make up for its hit-or-miss castings. Illumination’s signature animation style combines 2D and 3D animation techniques, creating the vibrant and immersive world of the Mushroom Kingdom that brings the characters to life. The color scheme of The Super Mario Bros. Movie is bright and vivid, capturing the childlike wonder of the Mario universe. The attention to detail and animation quality is evident in the film’s various settings, from the Mushroom Kingdom’s lush landscapes to the eerie Dark Lands. Illumination is no stranger to blockbuster animated films, with a repertoire ranging from Minions (2015) to Sing! (2016) to The Secret Life of Pets (2016). The Super Mario Bros. Movie joins these fan favorites with its bold animation that captures the magic of the Mario franchise.
Interestingly, this was not Nintendo's first attempt at a Mario adaptation. The 1993 live-action Super Mario Bros. movie couldn’t be further from today’s adaptation. The plot follows Mario, Luigi, and Princess Daisy as they fight against the evil Koopa. Like the more recent film, the movie features two “worlds”: one that Mario and his friends are from, and another ruled by Koopa. It has many of the same characters—such as Toad and Yoshi—but took many liberties with the story. The film introduces new characters, like Mario’s girlfriend, Daniella, and Koopa’s girlfriend, Lena. The 1993 version is a much grittier and darker live action movie than the current animated one. After its failure, it seems producers realized it was better to stay closer to the games.
In only its first week, The Super Mario Bros. Movie became a massive commercial success, raking in $400 million in its first week. While the film received several mediocre reviews from critics, it has a 96 percent audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Considering the film’s success, it seems inevitable that a sequel will be released, as well as potential spin-offs for other Nintendo games. Overall, The Super Mario Bros. Movie is a delightful tribute to the beloved video game franchise that has captured the hearts of millions for decades. With its vibrant animation style, thrilling adventure, and charming cast of characters, the film brings to life the nostalgic magic of Mario’s world in a way that’s accessible to both old fans and newcomers alike. It’s a cinematic celebration of the enduring power of video games and the joy they bring to people of all ages.