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‘The Super Mario Bros. Movie’ Review – Smash Hit or Game Over?

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Staff Writer Taha Khambaty takes a critical look at the newly released video game movie adaptation ‘The Super Mario Bros. Movie’ discussing the style, script, and casting of the Nintendo favourite. 

“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is a nostalgic throwback to the beloved video game character that many of us grew up with. The film is a brilliant showcase of all things Mario, featuring fun sequences of platforming, Mario-karting, smash bro-ing, and even nods to Luigi’s mansion. The vibrant world we all know and love is crafted with just as much care in the film. However, while all of these elements are worked into the narrative, they never feel like a seamless part of it.

The story follows the same generic Mario plotline that everyone knows, with a classic Bowser kidnapping followed by a Mario’s rescue mission. The only differences are that Luigi replaces Princess Peach as the one being kidnapped, and the villain’s motive is to compel Peach into marrying him. While nobody is expecting a complex dramatic narrative from a Mario movie, it feels like the film has nothing new to offer. This is especially prominent when other video game movies and even corporate product adaptations have achieved much more with similarly basic storylines, such as “The Lego Movie” with its “chosen one” trope and “Sonic: The Hedgehog” with its “hero in a new world” arc.

The film also falls short in comparison to these other adaptations with a lack of humour; it only manages to get a few chuckles out of you, and not much more for the children in the audience, either (The kids seemingly did have fun, but I have definitely heard louder reactions from other animated films).The script by Matthew Fogel feels more like his work on “Minions: The Rise of Gru” than his much wittier script on “The Lego Movie 2”.

On the bright side, the voice cast is definitely one of the better parts of the film. Chris Pratt as Mario was a controversial choice, but he works well within the role. Giving Mario a Brooklyn Italian accent, he manages to give the character depth and persuade you that this is the voice of Mario. Charlie Day as Luigi also feels perfect, giving him a scared but earnest quality. However, the film really makes him feel like Player 2, giving him almost nothing to do in the film aside from being Mario’s motivation to save the day, sidelining him until the last 10 minutes. Keegan-Michael Key fits seamlessly into the role of Toad, although he does get a bit lost in the shuffle. Seth Rogan’s energy feels very well-matched for Donkey Kong, being a comedic foil to Mario. Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach also does well, but is forgettable as most of her lines boil down to “We need to save the Kingdom” and “We will defeat Bowser.” Not to say that her role in the film is not active, nor is she relegated to a damsel in distress in any way, but the script does not give her character much nuance to play with.

The obvious highlight of the voice cast, however, is Jack Black as Bowser, who plays into the menace and the silliness of a giant turtle dragon and even gets to shine with a few vocal performances. Moreover, the film even manages to include the OG Mario voice, Charles Martinet, in multiple roles. Lastly, another highlight of the film is the music. The Mario games have always had iconic music, and the film manages to incorporate that brilliantly into the film. However, it is hard to give the film too much credit for using pre-existing music created specifically for the character.

In conclusion, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is definitely an enjoyable film for kids and very passable for adults. If you are a fan of the game, you are likely to have a good time watching it. However, as someone who does not have any nostalgia or hardcore admiration for the character, the film fails to stand out from other more unique adaptations. 

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