Super Mario Movie Is Respecting The Games, And That’s What Matters
Nintendo and Illumination’s Super Mario Bros. film continues to look incredible. I know we all share a collective hate for Chris Pratt and his weird performance, but everything else about the film screams love, quality, and authenticity for the iconic plumber. This was a hard thing to gauge from the first trailer, which deliberately showed us so little of the cast and what to expect from the wider narrative, but now we have a much clearer idea of the coming tale.
It’s an isekai. Mario and Luigi are two weirdly proportioned human dudes who somehow end up in the Mushroom Kingdom and are roped into saving it from Bowser’s evil plans. They will meet Peach, Donkey Kong, Toad, and a whole selection of iconic characters for the very first time – essentially making this film a fresh take on the game’s universe. That’s the best direction to take, and ensures it won’t need to match any specific visual personality or humorous tone. It can do its own thing, and for the most part, seems pretty on the mark.
Princess Peach is a far more confident and empowered character than we’ve ever seen before, acting as more of a mentor for Mario than a damsel for him to rescue, with Anya Taylor-Joy offering up a convincingly badass performance for the heroine. I’m in love with her different outfits and facial expressions, all of which are clear homages to her different looks from various games. Watching her cringe when an overconfident Mario darts through obstacle courses inspired by classic levels is such a cute touch, and I will never stop simping for our girl as she rocks towards the battlefield wearing her Mario Kart biker overalls and wielding a halberd.
Mario can also be seen doing battle with Donkey Kong, while Luigi is being held hostage by Bowser as the towering lizard plucks hairs from his moustache. Pratt aside, everyone else seems to fit their roles nicely and bring an energy that is both reminiscent yet independent of the source material. That’s what I wanted to see. A new, respectable spin on a world that for decades was seen as impossible to adapt. Turns out it wasn’t, we just needed the right talent and enough creative freedom for it to shine. I imagine Nintendo had a big hand in this though, given that each and every frame is awash with lore and references. The detail on display is rather staggering, and I can’t quite believe how deep it all seems to go.
Mario launches himself towards Donkey Kong with a punch that mimics the opening cutscene of Super Smash Bros. Melee, and Peach’s Castle is heavily inspired by Super Mario 64 with its gorgeous glass-stained windows and absurdly long and ornate staircase. She also makes reference to how many galaxies are out there, meaning the vastness of this adaptation not only matches the Wii classic masterpiece, but hopes to venture far beyond it. Nearly every single frame is hiding a cute little reference or deliberate nod to Mario’s history, almost like Shigeru Miyamoto was hovering over the shoulders of each individual artist to make sure they squeezed in as much as possible.
Peach’s girl boss energy aside, my favourite part of the new trailer is when Rainbow Road rushes into frame followed by a huge line of cars occupied by so many characters I had to pause to see them all. Funky Kong is there! Illumination really thought of everything. This scene alone is filled with references to nearly every single Mario Kart entry, whether it’s the luscious track they race upon or the myriad vehicle designs Mario is rushing ahead of.
Even Peach has her signature jumpsuit and motorcycle, because she really couldn’t be riding anything else. This is only a glimpse of the finished product, and I want to see loving nods to Luigi’s Mansion, Paper Mario, Super Mario RPG, Smash Bros., or anything that fits into this clear love letter of an adaptation. I’m staring at something I recognise and clapping like a trained seal, but when it comes to Mario, I think such mindless self-indulgence is more than okay.
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