By Shi Bradley
The highly anticipated “Super Marios Bros” film has finally hit theaters across the globe. The franchise and its characters are consumed with nostalgia for adults across the world, and this new film is a huge opportunity to introduce these phenomenal characters to a new generation. So it’s not a surprise that when I went to attend the screening, I saw the AMC Theatre in the Arizona Center, the most full I’ve seen since the premiere of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
However, with high anticipation comes high scrutiny. In this case, most of the criticism has been directly related to Chris Pratt playing the titular character. People criticized the casting choice due to his lack of an authentic Italian accent, as well as it being yet another time when a Hollywood A-Lister was used in the place of someone who claims voice-acting as a profession. In addition, people complained about Hollywood bringing yet another remake of an already existing pop culture phenomenon rather than trying to create new and unique stories.
Shortly before The “Super Mario Bros.” Movie was released to the general public, the critics’ Rotten Tomatoes reviews rated the movie at a measly 48%, which would seem to be an apparent sign of the movie’s mediocrity. Twitter took these reviews and seemed ready to dismiss the film as yet another cash grab with a lack of originality.
I’ve, personally, made it my mission to ignore theories and critic reviews before forming an opinion of a film for myself. After all, I loved the first Suicide Squad, a film reviewed by critics as “substandard.” So when I walked into the theater to see “Super Mario Bros,” I was ready to form my own opinion.
The immediate exposition of the film was that it was full of creativity. In the video games, the beginnings of Mario and Luigi are not touched upon too much, so seeing the brothers in a warm Italian family in Brooklyn, trying to start up their own plumbing business set up a really good foundation for the rest of the film.
The portrayal of Princess Peach was one of the highlights for me. In the games, you may remember Princess Peach as being the damsel in distress, usually used merely as a device for Mario to demonstrate his heroicness. However, in this story, Peach is not only given her unique personality, but she is also one of the heroes of the story. The film shows a gender role reversal with her teaching Mario how to defend himself and with the storyline centered around her being a fierce warrior, protecting her kingdom. She is written to be brave, powerful, and an overall badass, all while wearing her traditionally feminine, bubblegum-pink wardrobe and keeping her blonde locks perfectly in place.
The film did an amazing job of paying homage to the original game. There were a lot of nods to original characters and species: the toads, of course, were a major part of the movie. There were appearances by some of the iconic species including the Yoshis, the Goombas, and Koopas Troopas, all of the classics from the original game. The original villains, Bowser and Magikoopa, made an appearance, with Jack Black bringing a hilariously sadistic and lovestruck version of the iconic Bowser. Donkey Kong and the Jungle Kingdom were also featured in this film as major characters, a nod to the other universes of Nintendo.
The world of Mario was shown a lot of justice in the film: there were many uses of powerups, including the Star which features the fun, glowing invincibility players of the game would be familiar with. The zooming pipes, the kingdom of Princess Peach and Bowser, and the remixes of the traditional Super Mario Bros music all made the film a fun, nostalgic experience for older viewers and a whimsical introduction to the world of Mario for the younger audience.
The best part of the movie was simply the liveliness of the whole film. From the multi-colorful nature of the Mushroom Kingdom to the rainbow road complete with all the characters driving karts inspired by the Mario Kart game, the whole movie was very bright and wholesome and made it an enjoyable departure from the dull realism that the film industry, including films aimed toward children, have been leaning toward recently. I also loved the simplicity of the piece. The main message was simply the power of family and friendship, as well as the importance of standing up for what you believe in, a message that is important to internalize in children and that many adults need a reminder of as well.
All in all, I feel in this day and age it is important to appreciate things for what they are. The Super Mario Bros. Movie is meant to be a fun, feel-good film for children and adults alike, a bright colorful celebration of the nostalgic franchise with humor and messages about the power of family and friendships embedded, as well as the message of believing in yourself. Not every film is meant to stand as a great cinematic masterpiece, though I believe the Super Mario Bros Movie could be argued as such. Audiences seem to also have enjoyed the film, with the audience score on Rotten Tomatoes coming in at 91%. It seems to be another message to not let preconceived notions and critical reviews cloud your judgment. Instead, you should come into The Super Mario Bros Movie with a clear mind and let yourself be transported back to a simpler time.