The Super Mario Bros Movie
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The Super Mario Bros. Movie is a 2023 animated comedy film based on Nintendo’s Mario franchise. It was released in April 2023 after years of production and encountered a great box office success despite some negative criticism. I haven’t been able to see it in theater, but since it’s now available on the streaming platform I’ve subscribed, I could watch it.
The movie starts in Brooklyn, in the USA, where the two Italian-American brothers Mario and Luigi opened their own plumbing business after leaving their former employer. But, Mario is considered as a loser by his father who disapproved his project and the derision of their ex-employer. However, while trying to fix a big water leak that was flooding a street of Brooklyn, Mario and Luigi got sucked by a Warp Pipe and separated in the way. Luigi ended-up in the Dark Lands ruled by the evil Bowser and his Koopa while Mario arrived in the Mushroom Kingdom, threatened by Bowser’s army since he put his hands on the Star that could make him invulnerable.
Now, Mario must find a way to save his brother and help Princess Peach to prevent her Kingdom to be invaded by Bowser’s evil army.
At the beginning of the movie, I must admit I was quite worried because the starting with “Mario is a loser that got transported to a magical kingdom where he would become a hero”, was a too much classic scheme. But after arriving to the Mushroom Kingdom and the Dark Lands, the movie finally became the Mario Movie I wanted to see.
First, let’s say something about Mario on Cinema and TV. Well, he never been fortunate regarding this… Some TV shows not quite bad but we also have the infamous 1993 Super Mario Bros. live action movie with the late Bob Hoskins which was a big failure. But we can’t say Mario had a brillant TV or cinema career. And Nintendo has been quite reluctant to retry the experience since. However, this movie was actually pretty great.
The movie has been produced by the studio notably behind Despicably Me and the Minions franchise. An American studio with a subsidiary in France that animated the movie, BTW. Its casting was pretty nice with Chris Pratt voicing Mario and Charlie Day for Luigi. At first, I’ve been quite uncomfortable with Peach played by Anya Taylor-Joy because her voice wasn’t matching with the character’s design. Actually it’s been a nice thing since Peach has always been a cliché of the stupid blondie just here to be kidnapped by Bowser. About Bowser, he has been voiced by Jack Black and the performance was awesome because the character’s motive are quite different than the usual. Well, more or less. He his still evil and ruthless. But he his also desperately in love with Peach. I know this idea came from the games, Bowser is in love with Peach and he kidnaps her to send Mario in a trap or try to take over her kingdom. But here, we have a portrayal or an evil character who is also a big romantic one. That’s a very fun contrast for Bowser actually. A song sung by Jack Black reflects all the character’s madness about her.
Regarding Peach, as I said, she’s not the usual kidnapped princess. Actually, they used Luigi for the person to save, with some references to Luigi’s Mansion during his arrival at the Dark Lands I think, and Peach takes part on the story. Let’s be clear : she’s freaking badass. They made her the entire opposite of damsel in distress usual usage and she’s a quite determined and confirmed ruler who is fighting to protect the coward and fragile Toads of the Mushroom Kingdom. And she started as Mario’s mentor to integrate him to their world’s rules.
So the characters were nice and well adapted, what about Mario’s setting for a Mario movie ? Awesome. Nothing else.
The movie greatly transposed the platform game to an actual common and daily basis in the world. The Power Up are explained, the platforms are actual transport methods, even the Warp Pipes, and of course the various attires Mario could wear granting him special powers are available. So the game’s elements are fully integrated into a consistent world that live in this way.
And we also have the references to side parts of the franchise, specially Mario Kart with a road fight sequences on … A rainbow road.
Yep, this game is also full of PTST for Mario gamers : the die-and-retry of the stages during Mario’s training, the Mario Kart races, these sequences reminded me painful memories ! I’ve played to various Mario games, not everyone. My biggest experience with them was Mario 64 and Mario Sunshine that were the only one I could finish completely. The others were too difficult or I didn’t stick to them such as Galaxy.
Another nice thing the movie has been able to integrate properly is the musics of the original games. The original motion picture soundtrack is full of original tracks but a lot of them integrates the well-known Mario themes composed by Koji Kondo. Sometimes it was the entire theme rearranged for the movie, other moments it was just the melody used inside a more original composition. The result is great and the soundtrack renders pretty well.
So yes, I would say I’ve enjoyed this movie. Despite it’s starting that worried me and it’s story being quite poor, I think the franchise finally got a nice entry for its theater adaptation. Now I wonder if they would want to make a Legend of Zelda adaptation using the same methods, but I think it would be more difficult because the movie can’t be a comedy like Mario. Zelda’s stories are quite more “serious business” and epic than Mario’s. But the studio made a great job animating it, so I hope this franchise would arrive on theaters too one day.
But so far, the only informations I’ve seen was related to a possible sequel and spinoff such as a Donkey Kong Country based movie or Luigi’s Mansion. The sequel seemed to be in the plans but got blocked because of the 2023 Writers Guild of America strike. So we’ll see !