The video game to film adaptation started with Super Mario Bros Movie all the way back in 1993 a film so catastrophically bad it almost sunk the genre before it had really started and its only now 30 years later that we have a remake/ reboot / relaunch call it what you will. From Illumination the animation studio behind ‘Minions’ they have rightly made this an animated feature which is far more in keeping with the electric colours and bright hues of the massively popular games.
Mario (voiced by Chris Pratt) and his brother Luigi (Charlie Day) run a New York plumbing business and proudly congratulate themselves on their TV ad before its revealed that their Italian accents are about as convincing as Don Cheadle’s cockney accent in the Oceans 11 films. But the pair soon find themselves whisked through a Brooklyn magical sewers into the Mushroom Kingdom (not a euphemism for the late Howard Marks empire) where Mario must rescue Princess Peach (Anya Taylor Joy) from Bowser a fire belching turtle with a penchant for power ballads enthusiastically voiced by Jack Black who wants to force her into marrying him and she gives him the sort of look that crosses the face of the many wives of Donald Trump on their honeymoon night. Bowzer has also kidnapped Luigi and to help rescue them Mario needs the Kong army led by Donkey Kong (Seth Rogen).
It’s the most basic of plots from scripter Matthew Fogel whose previous includes The Lego Movie 2 and the two films could not be more different because there’s only the occasional laugh to be had here nearly all in the first act. There’s no deprecating humour, clever quips or in-jokes here which would have greatly benefitted the film. There is however plenty for Mario gamers to enjoy with loads of Easter eggs for the eagle eyed (and keen eared too) and there are plenty of direct lifts from the games that includes a Donkey Kong battle between him and Mario, a rainbow lit road race a la Mario kart and a sly nod to the early games with a 2D version of Mario hopping over and under obstacles in the city. It’s in that respect that Super Mario bros would be ideally suited to the 3D format and seems a bit of a missed opportunity not to have done so here.
It’s a film loyal to its source material but beside Jack Black as Bowzer it is Pratt who is miscast as Mario not really doing the iconic voice that makes Mario Mario (and his family at the dinner table looks like it was inspired by a Dolmio advert). The animation and colour spectrum is spot on and the characters are beautifully rendered but as the games themselves are plotless the film is too making it a somewhat generic experience.
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Here’s the Super Mario Bros Movie trailer…….