The Super Mario Bros Movie
The Super Mario Bros Movie is rather a difficult one to quantify. Though fans of the game will likely be delighted and it’s an undeniably aesthetically attractive experience, in terms of narrative substance it’s a bit of a cop-out.
Salutes to the gameplay abound, with endless Easter eggs and inside jokes peppering the action. Especially pleasing is Brian Tyler’s score, which brings epic, symphonic life to the well-loved original themes by Koji Kondo, with some occasional 80s gems thrown in. Bowser’s unexpectedly lyrical bent is a highlight, Jack Black stealing the show with a hilarious original ballad entitled Peaches. The art direction is similarly faithful to the original concept and as impressive as the music, with lush landscapes, immersive colour and quirky touches drawing in even the most sceptical of viewers.
Sadly, the appeal largely ends there. A decidedly lukewarm narrative makes for a lacklustre adventure in general – and that’s quite a feat, considering the artistic prowess it has to back it up. The frenetic pace does little to help, the overall effect amounting to 90 minutes of slightly relentless chaos, so loud, so bright and so fast that it becomes a challenge to appreciate even the most appealing aspects. There is some brilliant voice acting (as mentioned, Black is on top form as a relatively multifaceted Bowser, Charlie Day brings real pathos to Luigi, and Seth Rogen’s Donkey Kong is lovable and unmistakable), which is just as well, because character development is not a priority. It almost feels like a die-hard devotee’s homage to the gaming experience, which misses some elements essential to making it a convincing film; there is a heavy reliance on the ingenuity of the source material, rather than showcasing anything particularly new (Annabel Jankel and Rocky Morton’s 1993 live-action version, starring Bob Hoskins, while also mediocre, brought more imagination to the table). The trouble with sticking so faithfully to the game is that in movie form it is much harder to engage with.
This said, The Super Mario Bros Movie‘s target audience of under-tens and fans of the game franchise will find much to enjoy, and the rest of us will struggle not to be wowed by the rich soundtrack and vibrant aesthetics.
The Super Mario Bros Movie is released nationwide on 5th April 2023.
Watch the trailer for The Super Mario Bros Movie here: