The Super Mario Bros. Movie: A Burst of Nostalgia but Falls Short as a Film
The Super Mario Bros. Movie, despite its abundant easter eggs and captivating score, fails to meet the expectations of being a solid cinematic experience. While many may give it a pass due to its iconic IP, the question arises: should we settle for a lackluster plot simply because the games it is based on lack narrative depth?
The Disappointment of a Barebones Plot
The movie takes its biggest creative risk in the beginning by introducing Mario and Luigi as human plumbers in Brooklyn, a nod to previous Mario adaptations. However, the plot remains incredibly barebones, serving more as a vehicle for easter eggs and references rather than a captivating narrative.
Now, one might argue that a kids’ movie based on a video game doesn’t necessarily need a deep emotional storyline. However, it is not unreasonable to expect a creative and engaging plot that goes beyond being a mere advertisement. The film makes no effort to hide that fact, even starting with an advertisement for Nintendo Switch games before it begins.
This lack of originality becomes evident throughout the film. Every element seems designed to promote Nintendo Switch games, from Bowser’s Super Mario Odyssey wedding costume to the inclusion of Mario Kart. It’s clear that the primary goal is to entice viewers to purchase Nintendo games rather than crafting a compelling story.
A Missed Opportunity for Emotional Engagement
The Lego Movie showed that even an overt advertisement can still be emotionally engaging, universally comedic, and feature interesting characters and vocal performances. The filmmakers behind that movie put their all into creating a heartfelt and brilliant film, despite having less source material to work with compared to the decades of Mario games. In contrast, The Super Mario Bros. Movie feels like a studio on auto-pilot.
Illumination, though not a celebrated animation studio, plays it safe and formulaic with this movie. It seeks to generate revenue, sell tickets, and generate YouTube videos about missed easter eggs rather than offering a truly innovative and captivating experience. Even the inclusion of Donkey Kong feels forced, as if it was solely done to set up a potential solo film rather than exploring the character’s potential.
Voice Acting Woes and Lackluster Comedy
While Chris Pratt, known for his versatile performances, falls somewhat flat in his portrayal of Mario, Jack Black and Charlie Day stand out with their energetic and committed performances as Bowser and Luigi, respectively. Unfortunately, Anya Taylor-Joy’s Princess Peach comes across as bored throughout the adventure, resulting in a dull second half whenever she takes the spotlight. Additionally, the film’s comedy is lackluster, relying heavily on tame visual gags that fail to evoke much laughter.
Strengths in Score and Visuals
Despite its shortcomings, The Super Mario Bros. Movie possesses some noteworthy strengths. The score, a collaboration between composer Brian Tyler and Mario composer Koji Kondo, is a standout feature. They create beautiful orchestral themes that transform iconic game tunes into epic anthems worthy of the big screen.
Visually, the film impresses with its stunning design, exceeding anything Illumination has done before. The otherwise mundane locations are transformed to resemble levels straight from the games, adding a fresh and unique aesthetic to the movie.
An Easter Egg Extravaganza
If your primary desire is an easter egg hunt, The Super Mario Bros. Movie will undoubtedly satisfy. References to games like The Wrecking Crew, Kid Icarus, and Punch-Out!! abound, with even a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo from the original arcade game Donkey Kong. It lays the groundwork for a potential Nintendo cinematic universe.
More Than Just an Advertisement
The Super Mario Bros. Movie will likely dominate both the box office and pop culture, spawning sequels, spin-offs, and merchandise. However, as an animation enthusiast, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed. The Lego Movie demonstrated that it’s possible to strike a balance between being an advertisement and a fantastic family film. If we know it can be done, why should we ever settle for less?
The Super Mario Bros. Movie may delight fans with its nostalgic references, beautiful score, and eye-catching visuals. However, its shortcomings in plot development, underutilized voice acting talent, and lackluster comedy hinder it from achieving true greatness. As consumers, we should demand more from animation and embrace films that deliver both entertainment and emotional depth.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is The Super Mario Bros. Movie suitable for young children?
Yes, the movie is primarily targeted at kids and can be enjoyed by young audiences.
2. Will there be a sequel to The Super Mario Bros. Movie?
Given the film’s potential to become a box office hit, it is highly likely that sequels or spin-offs will follow in the future.
3. Are there any other video game references besides the Mario franchise?
While the movie primarily focuses on the Mario games, there are subtle nods to other classic video games, adding an extra layer of enjoyment for gaming enthusiasts.
4. How does the animation quality compare to other Illumination movies?
The Super Mario Bros. Movie stands out visually, surpassing the standards set by previous Illumination films, offering a fresh and vibrant aesthetic in line with the Mario games.
5. Can you enjoy The Super Mario Bros. Movie without prior knowledge of the game franchise?
Absolutely! While dedicated fans will appreciate the references, the movie is designed to entertain general audiences and introduce them to the world of Mario.