LifeIsXbox’s The Super Mario Bros. Movie review | I had the good fortune of being invited by Nintendo and Sony Pictures (funny combination, huh?) to go and see The Super Mario Bros. Movie at an exclusive press screening in Brussels, Belgium. After getting over the kinda creepy location in an old rundown gallery*, I said hello to some friends from the local press and installed myself in a comfy red velvet chair, ready for Mario to win me over again, this time on the big screen.
*Funny anecdote that will make the entire experience seem less luxurious, but there was construction going on next door to the cinema and during a good 10 minutes of the movie, we could hear the power tools louder than the movie. We all had a good chuckle and didn’t let it ruin our day.
One and a half hours later, we all left the theatre, smiling and chatting about the great movie we had just seen and how it truly surpassed our expectations. Keep reading to find out what wowed us and why you should definitely make room in your schedule to go see this for yourself.
What we Liked!
- Gorgeous | Let me set your mind at ease if you like eye candy: this movie is B E A U T I F U L, with amazing setpiece locations, tiny details that just feel right, and every single texture is painstakingly accurate. Mario’s jeans overalls look like jeans, you can see the stitching in his cap, and Princess Peach’s dress looks like actual velvet. The lighting and effects are all amazing as well, this is peak 3D animation and I could watch the movie multiple times to appreciate this alone.
- Voice acting | Yes, really. I know the internet was very sceptical about some of the casting choices like Chris Pratt voicing Mario but it really felt appropriate. I’ll even 1UP that statement and say that it felt like the animation and script was done with these voice actors in mind. How else would you explain Bowser’s piano solo that ONLY the mighty Jack Black could pull off? (easily the vocal highlight of the movie!) Only Peach, voiced by the delightful Anya Taylor-Joy (The Queen’s Gambit) took some getting used to, but that’s more because she plays such a cheeky bad-ass version of Peach. This Princess doesn’t need saving!
- Actually funny | Some of the try-hard yet obviously necessary “It’s-a-me” and “Mama Mia” expressions may not have gotten more than a smirk from me, but there are some downright hilarious moments in this movie that will stand the test of time, the angry dog that looks a little like a rabid version of Dug from Up was an early highlight, but the nihilistic and morbid Luma from Super Mario Galaxy really stole the show for me, and even made the small company at the cinema burst out in laughter.
- So many references | I was keeping my eyes peeled during the entire movie and was actively looking for references to other Nintendo franchises and wasn’t disappointed, Mario’s dad looked a lot like Tarin from The Legend of Zelda, the café they meet at has an arcade version of Jump Man, there is a Duck Hunt sign on the streets, and that’s just a few scenes in Brooklyn. I’m sure I’ll need a few more viewings to catch them all!
- Mario Kart | As the trailer already spoiled, we get a lengthy scene that is basically a movie-version of Mario Kart, rainbow road, slippery banana peels, green shells and yes, even a blue shell, they all get a moment in the spotlights, and it’s such a blissful moment if you’re a big fan of the series like me.
- The music is god-like | The selection of Mario-themed music is already a dream and it always fit the scene perfectly, but the popular tunes never failed to hit the spot either, Take on Me (Aha), Holding Out For A Hero (Bonnie Tyler) and then there is the brand-new Jack Black-written “Peaches” that’ll be an earbug for a few days to come…
- Mario Bros? | It’s called the Super Mario BROS movie, but the green sibling didn’t get that much screen time if we’re being honest. Early on in the movie, they both get sucked into a green pipe and while Mario landed in the Mushroom Kingdom, the taller brother drew the short end of the stick and ended up in Bowser’s backyard. We don’t see him that often anymore afterwards. Too bad, because he’s my favourite character in the Mario universe. Silver lining: Charlie Day did a perfect voice for him!
- The Plot | The expected “save the princess” plot makes room for a “save the green scaredy-cat brother” set-up but doesn’t really have anything that memorable to write home about. But you know what, it doesn’t need it. The games don’t need a convoluted script to be entertaining and neither does the movie, it’s just a long excuse to have us visit popular locations and meet fan-favourite characters and that’s perfectly fine. I expected fan service (no, not that kind, though there is a cheeky booty shot with Peach on a bike) and felt serviced, as a fan.
- Scary moment | No, this isn’t a personal opinion, but as a parent of a 4yo and a 7yo, I could see the former being terrified by the haunted woods scene with the Dry Bones chasing Luigi. Though, it was a perfect reference to the Luigi’s Mansion games. Don’t see this as a negative remark, but more as a warning to maybe not watch this with very young and easily spooked children, you’ll thank me later.
What we Disliked
- Motion blur | I’m not sure if it was the movie or a lack of quality of the cinema’s equipment, but seeing as the rest of the movie was crystal clear, it could be column A. There was a nice side-scrolling action scene at the start of the movie, but everything looked really blurry, and it was kind of nauseating to look at, especially on the bug screen. I looked at the person next to me, and he confirmed having the same reservations about it.
You’ll love this if you liked: Minions 2: the Rise of Gru, Wreck-it Ralph
The Super Mario Bros. Movie will definitely get your Nintendorphines flowing and will surprise fans and newcomers alike. The animation is amazing, the voice-acting will put all doubters to shame, and the musical journey I went on kept me smiling for the rest of the day!
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Robby lives and breathes video games. When he’s not playing them, he’s talking about them on social media or convincing other people to pick up a controller themselves. He’s online so often, he could practically list the internet as his legal domicile. Belgian games-industry know-it-all.