The Super Mario Bros. Movie review

The Super Mario Bros. Movie has arrived, and it’s a let’s a go! The film is a rollercoaster ride film, rapidly moving from set piece to set piece, chock full of references to the many video games across the franchise. It drops the ball in its final act, but is overall a fun way to spend time.

Before going into any plot or character, it must be said the film looks gorgeous. It looks very much like the video-games, and is silky smooth. This film was animated with much love and effort, even if the same can’t be said for other aspects. 

Chris Pratt as Mario was a weird choice when it was announced, and while it’s tolerable in the film it’s still noticeable. There is an attempt at Mario’s iconic Italian accent, but for the most part it’s Pratt’s normal voice. 

Charlie Day, Keegan-Michael Key and Jack Black are the standout voices. Day gives Luigi a paranoid tone, apt for his most defining character trait. Key gives an excitable energy to Toad, and Black is menacing as Bowser. Oh, and Bowser sings. That is very much a surprise. 

Anya Taylor-Joy and Seth Rogen fall flat in their roles. Taylor-Joy is confined to saying “let’s save the Mushroom Kingdom!”, so her range is thin. Of course, the writing shares some of the blame here. Rogen’s voice doesn’t quite settle on a consistent accent, so it never clicks.

Mario is not a franchise known for its deep plot, and the film carries this flaw too. It’s a simple plot, with several set pieces stringed together. It’s got a stronger focus on referencing the games, which are numerous. If adults grew up playing the games, this is likely to please them, but if they aren’t familiar with the game then it’ll likely bore them.

The set pieces though, for those familiar, are a blast. There is a 2-D sequence, Mario Kart, original Donkey Kong, and much more. The Mario Kart inspired sequence is especially impressive, with bright colours dazzling, and action aplenty. This is the apex of the rollercoaster. 

As this is ultimately a kids film, it certainly works. The pace is fast to keep them engaged, the plot, while could have been more complicated, doesn’t treat the audience as if they’re total idiots. There are points where the film should have had a more of a chance for the characters to grow, instead of hurrying them along. 

There are certainly dramatic tone shifts, as the bits with Bowser tend to be darker, whereas Mario is totally focused on bright and happy. This is particularly apparent with a melancholic star, who begs for death, and cheers when he’s about to be dunked in lava. For a kids film this is a strange choice, though does make the adults perk up when he appears. 

The third act is a major let down. After all the Mario inspired fun the audience has had, the final battle against Bowser is a generic snooze-fest of a fight. Bowser destroys some of Brooklyn, and so the hero most known for jumping must punch him to death. It’s a finale that evokes modern day superhero flicks, and not Mario. 

There are two teases, and the final one especially is a let down. It’s a Yoshi egg, which cracks, screen cuts to black, and then his iconic cry. Not seeing Yoshi in the cartoon flesh is a disappointment, especially when everything else is so lovingly crafted. It’s clear a sequel will inevitably come with Yoshi, but he should have been present.  

The Super Mario Bros. Movie is overall worth going to see for long term fans, and something kids will enjoy, but for anyone who hasn’t played the games it’s best to stay away. It’s a pleasant way to spend an hour and a half, though the film doesn’t offer any deep or meaningful lesson.

Kieran Burt

My name is Kieran and I am based in the UK. I love writing about all things science fiction and fantasy, particularly Star Wars and Marvel. When I’m not writing or watching anything sci-fi related, you can probably find me exploring the open worlds of alternate lands through my Xbox.

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