Nintendo’s beloved character Mario is one of the most iconic gaming icons since his first appearance in the 1981 arcade game Donkey Kong; the red hat, white gloves, overalls and mustache are universally recognizable, and the 200+ games that he has been featured in for the last 50 years have undeniably made an impact on our lives in one way or another. So when The Super Mario Bros. Movie was first announced back in 2018, fans were bubbling with excitement — only to be hit with a slight letdown from the first teaser trailer in October 2022. The original voice of Mario, Charles Martinet, had been replaced by Chris Pratt, who revealed an uninspiring Mario voice with a subtle Brooklyn accent, reminiscent of the one by Lou Albano in The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, an animated series that aired on television in 1989.
Yet, as more trailers were slowly released in the following months, the movie looked more and more promising. Big names like Jack Black as Bowser, Charlie Day as Luigi, Anya Taylor-Joy as Peach, Keegan-Michael Key as Toad and Seth Rogan as Donkey Kong brought the flare that everyone had been hoping for, and the visuals were as incredible as what people had come to expect from Illumination.
The end product was much, much better than what many expected, unlike the live action adaptation Super Mario Bros. in 1993. The Super Mario Bros. Movie hit the nostalgia trip at just the right spot, with phenomenal voice acting from Black, Day, and Key. Although the movie just premiered on April 7, a viral clip of Black as Bowser singing about Peach has undoubtedly reached many unsuspecting viewers, giving those that haven’t watched the film a taste of the absolute fun and joy in store. Surprisingly, Pratt’s performance was quite enjoyable as well, portraying a new, endearing facet of Mario that worked very well on the big screen.
The visuals were fantastic, transporting the theater to the sights and colors of the Mushroom Kingdom, but the highlight of it all was the music by Brian Tyler. Throughout the film, bits and pieces of theme songs from the many Mario games were woven into the grandiose orchestral music, bringing the audience on a journey through time as the characters paid tribute to the multitude of video game references.
Anya Taylor-Joy’s depiction of Peach is also a delight to watch. Instead of the classic damsel in distress trope, the movie featured a badass Peach, much like her depiction in the Mario Strikers series or the other Mario sports games, with the character stepping up as the protector of the kingdom against the onslaught of Bowser and the Koopa Troopas.
The final message of the story was also very well done, with the writers centering the film around the brotherhood between Mario and Luigi — which, although cliche, was executed very well, unlike many other video game adaptations.
It is important to acknowledge, however, that The Super Mario Bros. Movie does ride somewhat heavily on the nostalgia factor The pacing is fast, which works for Mario fans who are already familiar with the characters, but it may be a little too quick for those that never had the memories of playing Mario on the Wii, DS, Gamecube, Nintendo 64 or any of the older consoles. It’s a good film in the same way that Ready Player One is a good film to gamers, but it’s also undeniably a blast for families, kids and Mario fans that are hoping to recapture the glee and fun that the Super Mario Brothers brought to our childhood.
Brian Lu is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at [email protected]