The Super Mario Bros. Movie Review

After several trailers and the announcement during a special Nintendo Direct, I held my heart. Chris Pratt as Mario, Jack Black as Bowser and Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach, I didn’t see it coming together very soon. Fortunately, after seeing The Super Mario Bros. Movie, I can’t help but conclude that Illumination Entertainment and Nintendo have teamed up to create a fantastic Mario adventure that is full of references, recognizable moments and fantastic music.

Fantastic version of Mario and his

The first thing to notice during the film is how incredibly good it looks. Illumination has already shown its ability to create beautiful animation with Despicable Me and the Minions films. The Super Mario Bros. Movie shows what is possible when a capable studio takes control of a well-known game franchise. From the different worlds you traverse, to all types and sizes of characters, everything looks incredibly good. While watching it, I longed for a Mariogame that looks as good as Toad hobbling after Mario and Peach.

Donkey Kong is actually growing as a character

Toad is voiced by Keegan-Michael Key and does it – like actually all the actors – incredibly well. At the beginning you have to get used to Mario’s voice, but after a few minutes you actually forget that Chris Pratt voices it. This is actually true of all the characters. The voices fit the actor’s role well. Donkey Kong stands out in particular. His voice is voiced by Seth Rogen and he seems to be made for this role. Not only does Rogen bring a kind of layering to the character with his voice, in the hour and a half long film, Donkey Kong actually grows.

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The various leads all go through some degree of growth during the film. Mario and Luigi do so in their own way, we see how Peach ends up in Mushroom Kingdom and even Bowser has – a logical reason for him – to move toward the kingdom of the Toads. It is admirable to see all that happens to the characters in the hour and a half. The Mario brothers grow from complete idlers into true heroes, and the aforementioned Donkey Kong turns out to be more than just a great fighter.

Feast of recognition

With that said, I do have to say that the story of The Super Mario Bros. Movie doesn’t have a triple layer or any really big unexpected moments. Fortunately, that’s not necessary either. The journey you take with Mario and the story behind it is well balanced and always manages to hold your attention. In doing so, it does lean very much on everything you know about Mario and his games. Think of the famous question mark blocks, the important star that makes you immortal to the power-ups that Mario can eat or touch to get bigger, or shoot fireballs. I won’t give away all the references here, but if you’ve ever played a Mario game, you’ll smile almost every minute because you recognize something from the games you love so much.

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All this is enhanced by the fantastic music created and used for the film. Mario has an unprecedented amount of familiar tunes and an awful lot of them return in The Super Mario Bros. Movie. For example, you probably recognize the familiar 8- and 16-bit tunes that were given a brand new variation for the movie. It’s so well done that I hope the full track list becomes available on Spotify so I can give it another listen.

Illumination Entertainment and Nintendo have created a more than entertaining movie with The Super Mario Bros. Movie. The adventure takes you from one easter egg to another and features fantastic new variations of the incredibly familiar music from the Mariogames. At an hour and a half, it is a delightful, bite-sized movie that will put a smile on your face and as far as I’m concerned, a Mario Cinematic Universe may be made.

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