Film review: The Super Mario Bros Movie

When Mario’s brother Luigi is captured by Bowser (the terrible turtle), Mario needs the help of Princess Peach, with her heart-shaped bangs and immovable crown to save the day.

From the production company ‘Illumination’ – who gave us the irrepressible Minions, Sing & The Secret Life of Pets, brings us the stunning visual spectacle that is The Super Mario Bros Movie.

Based on the original computer game by Nintendo, Super Mario Bros has been a popular, family friendly series of games that have brought us an ever-evolving multitude of highly addictive game play. With the character’s first introduction into the arcade world over 40 years ago; Mario – known then as ‘Jump Man’ – was part of the Donkey Kong arcade game and originally designed to be a carpenter. However he soon transitioned into a plumber and over the coming decades, Nintendo spun the character off and gave us a whole new world filled with colourful settings.

With the typical Hollywood trend for massive budget productions and A-list casts, here we are given the vocal delights of Anya Taylor Joy (who will most certainly provide more voiceovers) as Princess Peach, Jack Black (who was born for this role) as Bowser with Chris Pratt as our title character and Charlie Day as Luigi.

You can imagine, even with their huge catalogue of games over the years, a new Super Mario Bros movie could’ve still been a gamble. Given that the 1993 live action version, starring Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo, was such a critical and financial flop, it put Nintendo off granting any studio the rights to make a film based on their properties… until now.

In the opening of the film set in Brooklyn, New York, we see Mario & Luigi’s life as plumbers at an all time low. Cue a news broadcast of a flooded New York and their mission begins in amongst the underground pipework that takes us beautifully (if never explained) into the multicolour world of Princess Peach’s Mushroom Kingdom.


The transition from the bleak ‘real world’ to the magical Mushroom Kingdom provides a great visual, almost ‘Wizard of Oz’ like contrast, showing off some incredible advancements in computer animation. This fish (or rather Cheep Cheep) out of water story provides plenty of basic comedy here. However, the film really kicks off when Mario learns that his brother is in trouble and must rely on the help of Peach and the ever-brave Toad to recruit the army of the Kong Kingdom to fight Bowser. From here we get brilliant nods to other games like ‘Super Smash Bros’ and ‘Mario Kart’ which you won’t be able to stop smiling at and yet somehow don’t feel forced into the story.

The film can be divided into two categories. The first being the incredible animation that has Illumination really stepping up their game. From the Mushroom Kingdom, to the iconic rainbow racetrack and the lush jungles of the Kong empire, everything is spectacularly (and faithfully) rendered. With a typical animation production of 4-5 years, they’ve really nailed the look of all the worlds to please crowds young and old who’ve enjoyed the games over the past 40 years.

The second being the script, or rather the lack of any real story here, is such a shame. There are the nods we expect to see and what we get is an enjoyable 93 minutes of turn your brain off fun. But even with the amazing animation, we’ve seen better in the recent past (story and character wise) with the likes of The Lego Movies, whose humour was spot on and could appeal to audiences both young and old. So you can’t help but feel that Mario Bros was designed for a younger audience (and that’s okay). There are still some subtle jokes for the adults, but it left the whole experience a little wanting, with some notable moments where the humour could’ve been pushed further.

At the time of writing this, the film has shattered worldwide box office records, so an inevitable sequel must be on the way. Hopefully they can correct a few of these shortcomings by then, but in the meantime there’s a lot to enjoy in this first outing.





Author: Piers, Maidstone Store