Alright, let me tell everyone from the jump I’m biased on this. Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros. are some of the earliest memories in my life. Playing games with these characters are dearer to me than superhero comics, so after suffering in middle school with the old 1993 movie, I just expected that there would never be another Mario Bros. movie again, and from Nintendo’s perspective, I could understand why. Hollywood messed it up back then, and I was perfectly happy with it never happening. Once I heard that Universal made a deal with Nintendo for a movie and that they made theme parks, I didn’t make much of it since I thought Nintendo would be too picky and we’ll never get another Nintendo property-based film. Yet all that changed once I heard Illumination was the animation studio chosen to do it. I had some hope since the Minions had some good movies, and Secret Life of Pets is also good. There’s a history of French animation studios respecting Japanese pop culture, especially aesthetically. Now from here, I can confidently say that they crafted a fantastic film. For me, it’s completely perfect, the Super Mario movie I have dreamed of since I was young.
So I guess I can give a quick setup of what this movie is about if you’ve somehow never ever in your life played a Mario game. Mario and Luigi are two brothers who live in Brooklyn, New York, and they are starting their plumbing business. One day when trying to help Brooklyn with a major plumbing issue in the sewers, the two brothers get sucked into a pipe that transports them to a new world where Bowser, the King of the Koopas (also a dragon turtle), is ravaging the many kingdoms of the realm as he tries to get to Princess Peach with his Super Star to conquer everything. With Mario and Luigi split up, Mario must team up with Toad and Peach to help her stop Bowser and find Luigi. Much Jumping ensues.
The film is wonderful and beautiful with all the colors and the textures in the film to not bring it to life as this is a game series, so it has that covered but a new look to it all. In a way, right now, this is the like a first look at what a PS4 Pro/Xbox One X era Mario game could’ve looked like. The animation is so fluid, and the there’s a lot of good emotion in the animation to add the depth and stakes to the story. It moves quickly, and you won’t be bored, and kids won’t either. It’s also hitting you with some many easter eggs. It’s probably worth watching this slow-motion film to catch them all (no pun intended). All the voice actors did a fantastic job, even Chris Pratt, who people dislike now, but he’s already been proven as a good voice actor for animation, and he does so here. (Note I’m not a fan of Charles Martinet of Mario and Luigi since he was brought in with Mario 64. I’m a fan of the US voices from the Super Mario Super Show – Capt. Lou Albano and Danny Wells because they actually sounded like Italian Americans from NYC). As expected, Jack Black steals the show as Bowser, but honestly, all the actors do so well with these characters that I wouldn’t mind if I heard them in a game too. Seth Rogan is going to be great as DK from this, and I’m ready for the Donkey Kong Country movie now.
I could go on and on, but I think this movie does well by making a fun and coherent story with heart and feels like a celebration of the franchise by tying as much of the many facets of the franchise all together in a banger of the animated film.
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