How does one begin to make a film about a video game character is so beloved all around the world? In fact, how does one even begin to consider that after an attempt was made decades before in live-action?
Were it not for that previous film, it may not have been as daunting. Nevertheless, Illumination (Despicable Me, Minions, Sing, etc.) decided to take a chance and go for it, and this time in animation instead of live-action. And unlike what happened in 1993, Nintendo took a more active approach in the production, thus allowing for more verisimilitude in the creative process, to coin a phrase from Richard Donner.
The end result? A film that is not only visually incredible, but also one that has the characters finally taking a proper leap from the video game screen into the big screen, and with a story that has plenty of heart and humor to it, and plenty of adventure and action.
To start off, our two Plumbing brothers are portrayed as true everyman characters trying to make it big on their own after leaving another company, but with a setback or two that seems to set them back to square one. Despite this, our duo had no intention of giving up.
As this is going on you also are introduced to the main villain, and he immediately shows the characters and the audience that he is not messing around in any way.
As Mario and Luigi try to help with yet another pipe issue on the streets of Brooklyn they find themselves sucked into a regular pipe only to end up separated but in a whole new world unlike anything they’ve ever seen before, and in the case of Mario he finds himself befriending a kind mushroom named Toad and a Princess named Peach. Upon learning his brother has been kidnapped by Bowser Koopa Mario sets out to rescue his brother with the help of his new friends.
There’s no spoilers here, but this movie hits all the notes that a good animated film should be, and not just a great video game film. The attention to the visual details are nothing short of amazing, and the little references to other Mario/Nintendo titles are all around, yet they don’t feel shoehorned. The music score is heartfelt fan-service dialed up to the maximum power. Being already a huge fan of the Mario Games Brian Tyler delivers a score that has enough cues to the classic games that Arcaders will know what they are right away, yet with enough originality to give the music a cinematic feel that balances the whole thing well. Working closely with Koji Kondo also helped give an authenticity to the music that attracted both Arcaders and non-Arcaders.
Now with the cast – everyone was great. While I was neutral on Chris Pratt as Mario I kept on open-mind and he doesn’t too a bad job at all. Plus Charles Martinet is still in the film so he’s still involved (as he should be).
Jack Black as Bowser – now where does one begin? From the very start Jack Black nails all the nuances that we know and like/dislike about Bowser, which already sold me the moment I heard him in the Teaser Trailer. Best Casting choice ever!
Kevin Michael Richardson as Kamek – Once again, we get to see/hear the talent and versatility of voice-actors. I should know based on his portrayal of Cleveland Jr. that KMR can do much more with his voice besides using a rich baritone to create characters.
Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach – Another casting choice that worked out well. Joy manages to strike a perfect balance between a kind, down-to-earth person and action-hero at the same time.
In all, The Super Mario Bros. Movie is a film that many of us have been waiting for since we played the classic Super Mario Bros. and had hoped the 1993 film would be but wasn’t. But in retrospect that’s not a bad thing because had it not been for that film flopping then there wouldn’t have been such a desire for a good adaptation of everyone’s favorite plumber. And that desire awakened once the teaser trailer for the new movie dropped. After that it was just a matter of waiting/anticipating the movie’s release. Once it premiered all doubts went away. And I for one am glad because not only is it a great movie but many around the world agree, for as of this post the film has done very well at the box-office, becoming the highest-grossing animated movie in such a short time, and proving once again that animation can do things better than live-action, and one doesn’t always have to rely on comic-book movies to help draw people back into the theaters.
So if you haven’t already seen this film, I highly recommend you do. It is not only a love-letter to the fans who have played the games, but it is a good film that shows that a hero can be anyone. And if you have the heart to not give up on yourself and those you care for (family, friends, etc.), you then become something more…super!
Also, be sure to check out Josh’s review on our sibling site as well!