Article by Kieran Burt.
The long-awaited Super Mario Bros. Movie trailer has arrived, and surprisingly, it looks a lot better than expected. During New York Comic Con, Nintendo released our first look, and the film looks amazing. The trailer showed off two different clips, one with the King of Koopas himself and another with Mario. Luigi also gets a chance to shine!
Bowser is on a rampage in the trailer, opening with him taking up a land of penguins. His kingdom is extremely hellish in its aesthetic, making strong use of lava and fire. His headquarters are in a volcano. No doubt this will be the third act setting, taking inspiration from the games the film is based on. There’s a lot of detail, with chained balls, lava falls and Bowser’s head carved into the rock.
Audiences get a great look at his armies of Koopa Troopas, though surprisingly there are no Goombas yet. Jack Black is voicing Bowser, and he sounds perfect, with a deep voice distinct from his own. For the most part, the voice acting is strong and convincing, apart from one key character
The scene with Bowser continues, as he commences siege to a kingdom of penguins. There is a shot of Bowser’s lair towering over the opposing kingdom, crushing watchtowers as it approaches. The start of the trailer feels like an animated fantasy, showcasing huge armies facing off against one another.
Of course, the fight doesn’t last long, with the penguins hilariously throwing snowballs at Bowser – a poor Koopa gets taken out by a snowball the same size as he is – before being vanquished themselves. This is the humour audiences can expect, defusing tense moments instead of back to back jokes. The seriousness quickly returns, with Bowser laying waste to the front gate with his firebreath. He collects a star, no doubt the primary McGuffin, a departure from his traditional hobby of kidnapping Princess Peach.
Mario appears in the second half of the trailer and the elephant in the room is what his voice sounds like. Chris Pratt had previously confirmed that he won’t be attempting the iconic Mario voice given by Charles Martinet. But he isn’t really trying anything else either, making Mario sound just like Chris Pratt. This is disappointing, and initially jarring, but it’s something that audiences will get used to.
He is shot into the Mushroom Kingdom by one of the green pipes, and it seems like he has no clue where he is. This is a bold choice, as Mario lives in the Mushroom Kingdom in the games, marking another departure. Nintendo is going for an isekai style story, where the hero is transported from another world, a staple in Japanese science fiction. Mario meets Toad, voiced by Keegan-Michael Key, who gives his voice a balance, not too high pitched but still enough to sound like the Toad audiences know.
The trailer closes out with a very brief shot of Luigi running away from several Dry Bones at night, clearly leaning into the zombie element of these undead creatures. This film is shaping up to be more accessible to adults than it first thought, with the primary target audience being people who grew up with the Mario films, rather than simply targeting young kids. It remains to be seen if the rest of the film will keep up with this more serious tone, or if these are just cherry picked moments.
The animation across all of the scenes is amazingingly crisp, with the style keeping very close to the video games. Illumination Studios knocks it out of the park with the level of detail, with the patterns of Bowser’s skin and the fabricy feel of Mario’s overalls. This is a huge step up from their work on Minions, no doubt Nintendo shares the credit as well.
The Super Mario Bros. trailer delivers on the huge expectations that surround the film, managing to calm down fears that it would be a disaster. Pratt’s voice remains a concern, but the rest of the trailer is amazing, with Jack Black’s Bowser being the stand out.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie will be released in cinemas on April 7, 2023.