Production Company: Illumination Studios (Universal)
Release Date: April 5th, 2023
Score: ★★★✩✩ (just because I really like Mario, I am VERY biased)
Rating: PG for action and Mild Violence
Picture this: the date is somewhere in mid-March 2018. I was a month into a relationship with a very big Nintendo Fan, when he sends me a text message saying "I guess Illumination studios is making a Mario movie". I remember just saying "Wow, I hope it doesn't suck", and continued with my life. Fast forward to September 2021, my friends and I are on a discord call watching a Nintendo Direct, and we get the official announcement for The Super Mario Bros. Movie, as well as casting and approximate dates. My friends and I, naturally, get very hyped about the news, laugh about Chris Pratt voicing Mario, and kept ourselves posted for the film.
Initially, learning that Illumination would be the production company in charge of this project worried me. Illumination Studios is known for creating a great cultural impact with its mascot: Minions. And besides the Despicable Me franchise, Illumination has yet to create something truly memorable, and arguably, of high narrative quality. My concern began to ease as soon as I realized that the one and only Shigeru Miyamoto basically held the Studios on gunpoint, making sure they would not ruin the image of Nintendo's most famous videogame character, and when watching the first teaser trailer, I decided to trust that the movie would be in good hands.
Was I wrong? Well, visually the film is beautiful. The animation is the best I have ever seen from Illumination, and strangely enough, I was not bothered by any of the voice acting. Chris Pratt as Mario will always be funny, but he did a really good job delivering his lines. And Jack Black was born to play Bowser, he is such a great fit, it's terrifying but charming at the same time. And personally, I loved looking at all the small details and references from other Nintendo games, as well as Mario games. Some of the cinematic adaptation of the songs from the games are cool to listen to, but there are others that just didn't work for me.
The movie is too short for the amount of things that happen on screen. And the conclusion, which I won't spoil, feels very anti-climatic. If this movie would just last a little longer, maybe 10, or even 20 more minutes, I believe the conclusion would be more impactful. But then again, I really cannot complain about the disorganized story structure, since it is supposed to appeal to all audiences, specifically younger audiences. And wow, I really was not expecting to listen to well-known pop and rock songs in this, such as Take On Me by A-Ha and Holding Out For a hero by Bonnie Tyler, but at least it wasn't Party Rock by LMFAO.
If I weren't such a Mario fan and nerd, I would not have liked this film as much as I did. This film definetly has a specific target demographic, and that is children and Mario fans like myself that understand all of the videogame references on screen. One could even argue that The Super Mario Bros. Movie is a love letter to the Mario franchise, but the plot really doesn't make this previous statement justice. And I really doubt you will like this movie if you are not into the Mario Games.
I had a lot of fun going to watch this on theaters (and finding out my friends were not joking about going dressed up as Mario characters, which was a funny surprise). Don't get me wrong, and this is not a bad film at all. This is the best thing I have ever seen from Illumination, but it still disappoints a little. Either way, I hope you watch the film by your own means and form your own opinion.