I know, I’m really late to the (Mario) Party 😉 with this review, but I’m sure there are still some people out there who have not seen this movie yet and I’m here to tell them why they should!!
Before jumping straight into this movie review, I just wanted to take a moment to look back at where this character began. It’s incredible to think of how this little Italian plumber is still so popular after so many decades and I think we should all take a moment to appreciate just how far he’s come.
*Scroll down to skip to the Movie Review, where me and fellow writer Meghan have recapped the movie and given it our overall fun ratings!
P.S. We’ve tried to keep spoilers to an absolute minimum but apologies if there are a couple of small ones! 😊
The History of the Super Mario Bros
Super Mario was created by videogame designer Shigeru Miyamoto back in 1981! Miyamoto also created other well-known characters, such as Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, and Star Fox.
Mario was initially created to be the protagonist of Donkey Kong, but the little man with the blue dungarees and red hat was such a hit, that Miyamoto went on to develop several sequels to the original Donkey Kong game and then eventually created his brother Luigi to form the ‘Mario Bros’ in 1983!
Nintendo were then extremely smart and released Super Mario Bros for FREE on every NES home gaming console sold. This helped drive up its popularity and the rest is history! According to the internet, there are around 300 different Mario games, which absolutely blows my mind! I think I’ve probably played around 10!?
Fast forward to today, and Super Mario is so popular you can visit a real-life replica of the Super Mario Universe - Super Nintendo World, at Universal Japan and Universal Studios Hollywood, with further plans to build in Singapore & Orlando.
With this movie grossing over $1.164BN profit, I wonder what we can expect to see from them next…Whatever it is, I can’t wait!
Super Mario Games
I LOVE playing video games, have done since I was a child and one of my favourite games was Super Mario 64 on the N64. This was the first Mario game I ever played, and I was/still am obsessed with the story and all the cute different worlds you get to explore. Rescuing all the baby Penguins was my favourite part in the whole game, even though it was frustrating as hell when they would keep waddling off!
Nowadays I’m still playing Mario games on the regular. My partner and I have been playing Super Mario Odessey together, where one of you can play as Mario and one as Cappy! This game is pretty fun, but the main downside is that it’s hard to follow both characters on the screen if you both go off to explore different areas.
Mario Kart and Mario Party are regular favourites of ours too, and quite often get turned on when we have friends over.
What’s your favourite Super Mario Game!? Please let us know in the comments below!
Super Mario Movie Review & Overall Rating
The story starts in New York City, where Mario & his brother Luigi have just started their new plumbing business. They are having a little trouble making a name for themselves in the Big Apple, until they see on the news that the city is in panic as dangerous flood water is pouring onto the streets. Mario sees this as an opportunity to show the world what they are capable of, so he grabs Luigi and they set off to save the city!
This unfortunately doesn’t go to plan, and the two end up falling into the city’s underground sewers and eventually into a secret room, where they end up getting sucked into a green portal. The brothers get split up, with both ending up in very different scenarios.
Mario lands in the Mushroom Kingdom, where he meets the iconic Princess Peach, Toad, and the rest of the city’s citizens. Luigi unfortunately ends up in a much darker world, where he is chased by Skeletal Koopa’s and then captured by Shy Guys and taken to Bowser to be interrogated. Luigi is thrown into jail with a bunch of other characters, where they will be sacrificed in honour of Princess Peach (psychotic, right?).
The rest of the story follows our heroes’ journey through multiple Mario lands, to stop Bowser on his path of destruction and save Luigi and the Mushroom Kingdom!
I was pleasantly surprised that this movie really is, at its core, a story about two brothers. I liked how they kept elements of the Mario franchise - like Bowser kidnapping Peach and wanting to marry her - down to his white suit even! They refreshed the franchise by skipping a romance between Peach and Mario, and us only seeing a ‘romance’ as perceived by Bowser and his jealousy. I thoroughly enjoyed that Mario entered the Mushroom Kingdom and had to learn how to exist in this video-game-esque world, solely to rescue his brother.
There were also enough easter eggs in the movie that new and old fans alike were delighted about - one of my favs was early on, where a vendor recommended blowing on an item to make it work, a call-back to 90’s kids like me who blew on game cartridges before popping it into the NES.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure about the casting of Chris Pratt to play Mario at first. I wondered if he was going to put on this bad accent and for it to come across as weird and insulting. But after watching the movie I can see why he was selected to play Mario. He’s such a charismatic and naturally comedic person, I think he played the part well.
Luigi probably has to be one of the perfect castings. Charlie Day is a really talented actor and has such a unique voice, I loved him as the Spaceship guy in the Lego movie and you can recognise his voice anywhere.
Anna Taylor-Joy was a great Peach. I hadn’t seen her in anything before, but I know she had great reviews from her role in The Queen’s Gambit and she has a sweet voice for Peach whilst still making her a strong female lead. Keegan-Michael Key played Peach’s right-hand man – Toad, who also had some really funny lines, and he nailed the role.
Seth Rogen playing DK was a fun surprise for me as I had completely forgotten that he was cast in the movie! His laughter stood out straight away and the first scene where his character was introduced was so funny!
Jack Black as Bowser is pure perfection - how can you not love this man?! His dramatic piano solos in this movie were brilliant and catchy AF. There’s a reason ‘Peaches’ got into the top 100 Billboard charts!!! Hahaha
Lastly, I can’t finish this review without mentioning my favourite character in the whole movie – Little Blue Flame! Voiced by the original Lumalee - Juliet Jelenic - this adorable glowing flame has the most hilariously, dark one liners and was by far the stand out character for me.
“There is no escape; the only hope is the sweet relief of death.” – Little Blue Flame.
I will admit, I was not excited for Chris Pratt to be voicing Mario. Like many of us, the traditional, over-the-top Mario voice by Charles Martinet was the one I knew and loved. That being said, Charles did get a cameo in the movie, and admittedly, a whole movie with the over-the-top voice would have been grating.
Chris Pratt did an okay job - I don’t think his voice acting was anything special. However, his co-stars knocked it out of the park. We all knew Jack Black was going to be amazing as Bowser, and with the popularity of the song ‘Peaches’, it goes to show how much Jack brings to the table as a performer. I thought Anya Taylor-Joy as Peach was particularly well done and brought a really nuanced performance to the character. Keegan-Michael Key as Toad was absolutely perfect, as well as Charlie Day as Luigi. I was surprised at how well Seth Rogen worked for Donkey Kong as well.
Overall, I think my favourite character is a split between Peach and Donkey Kong, and of course, Lumalee (voiced by Juliet Jelenic), who was flat-out hilarious. Peach, I liked because unlike in the video games, Peach had a lot of control over her own destiny. She wasn’t a passive character to be saved; instead, she led Mario throughout the movie as the one going out and saving her own Kingdom by seeking help from the Kongs, and then tricking Bowser at the end with an ice flower.
I found the rivalry between Mario and Donkey Kong - which of course, hails back to the very first, ultra classic game - extremely funny. I liked DK’s character growth in a short period as well, since he’s only in about half the movie.
Animation and Music
The animation for this movie was spectacular. The bright colours popped on the big screen and all our beloved characters were so freaking cute. The magical Nintendo world we know, and love honestly looked too cute to handle!
The Animation and visual effects departments really deserve a tonne of credit for this movie, as visually it is absolute treat for the eyes and makes you feel good right down to your soul.
But what would animation and visual effects be without music?
Brian Tyler did a phenomenal job of producing the music throughout this movie. The music we know from the games came from Japanese composer Koji Kondo. Brian did an amazing job incorporating multiple tunes from the Super Mario games and you will find yourself grinning from ear to ear when you start to hear tunes you may have forgotten about, such as the part in the movie where Bowser is playing his Piano to his Chief Koopa, discussing their evil master plan!
On top of having a wonderful production team for music and visuals, this movie is extremely lucky to have someone like Jack Black playing Bowser. Jack is such a powerhouse singer and I loved that he got a couple of dramatic solos in the movie.
I thought the animation was really well done. Mario as a game franchise doesn’t really bank on hyper-realism and has always stuck to a ‘cartoony’ look to their characters. Taking cartoony characters and making them more realistic can have jarring effects - like the backlash we saw on Detective Pikachu as well as Sonic the Hedgehog. The backlash on Sonic was so bad, that they ended up re-designing Sonic.
I thought they did a really good job taking simple characters and translating them to a more realistic-looking setting. The world seemed very saturated with colour - everything was bright and vibrant.
The music was also on point - much of the music was based on actual music from gameplay and easily recognizable themes. Mario game music is repetitive - as is a lot of video game music - so picking up on these themes are easter eggs in themselves.
I feel like Rainbow Road deserves its own little mention in this blog post. We’ve all felt the undeniable frustration and anxiety of playing the Rainbow Road course on Mario Kart, be it against the computer or with friends, this course is pure chaos!
I am so happy they added an entire scene to Rainbow Road. It was so wild, filled with adrenaline and was just so fun to watch on the big screen. The excitement, the stress...you could feel all this through the screen as you remember those many harrowing times you had to race on Rainbow Road 😉
Overall satisfaction & fun rating
Overall, this movie deserves the success it’s had and more. With its adorable animation and sweet, fill good story line, the story flowed nicely, and it was just pure fun to watch. Kids will love it and adults will feel that nostalgia and be taken back to their own childhoods.
Purely for its fun factor, I rate this movie a 10/10, I honestly couldn’t fault it. I would have loved to have seen more characters show up, but I can understand them holding off releasing all the big guns too early! I hope we will be lucky enough to get plenty more Mario/Nintendo Movies in the future.
I went to this movie with very low expectations. In fact, I really only went because my kids were invited to go see it with their cousins.
I’m very glad I went. The movie is very entertaining, and not only did my kids love it and paid attention the entire movie, but I also thoroughly enjoyed a fresh take on the Mario Brothers’ story, that was still faithful to the 1985 classic game which created a multi-million-dollar, international franchise but felt updated for audiences almost 40 years later.
While the plot was predictable, the movie was still super fun, and I’m very pleased to give it a solid 10/10 fun rating.
Note: There are TWO post credit scenes…so be sure to stick around right till the end 😉