It’s a go time!
December 2nd, 2022
By Jose Anguiano
Nintendo and Illumination Entertainment have finally released the official trailer to the upcoming “Super Mario Brothers Movie”. There’s a lot to admire, but should it be taken with a grain of salt?
When it comes to Illumination, the trailers are often better than the movie, save “Minions: The Rise of Gru”. All the best jokes are packed into the marketing since Illumination puts more effort and money into their advertising than their stories and animation. But with Nintendo taking a more active role in development compared to the live-action 1993 movie starring Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo, things are looking bright. The movie takes notes from “The Super Mario Brothers Super Show” by having the duo commit to their plumber origins, despite said occupation being random lore during the original game’s development. But given that the teaser alluded to the duo traveling to a different dimension, there’s potential for a strong arc between Mario and Luigi for whatever storyling is planned.
Right off the bat, the animation takes two steps forward in depicting the Mushroom Kingdom. Maybe it’s because Nintendo has taken longer than other companies to transfer their franchises to HD but seeing so much detail on these characters without losing the exaggerated aesthetic brings a new level of appreciation to this French animation studio. When they have a clear vision of what they want to accomplish, rather than just churning out movies that feel the same, they can stand out from other animation studios like Disney, Pixar, Sony, and Dreamworks. Mario’s leitmotif on the piano evokes a sense of wonder and mystery as the world unravels before our eyes as Yoshi’s stampede across the land and koopas chuck bob-ombs against the penguin ice palace.
On the casting side, Jack Black retains the crown of the perfectly cast celebrity. He sounds nothing like Po from “Kung Fu Panda” when playing Bowser, which is what professional voice acting is. Charlie Day completely sells Luigi as the cowardly brother facing his fears in a brand-new world. Keegan-Michael Key fits Toad’s miniature stature that’s packed with bigger ambitions. Meanwhile, Anya Taylor Joy’s Princess Peach is taking a more active compared to her 20 yearlong kidnapping tenure. This will likely cause some to morph into Ron DeSantis for having a progressive change to one of the longest running damsels in distress. However, this adds more potential to her as a character like when she became playable in “Super Mario 3D World”. It’s not just her getting kidnapped that’s at stake; it is also the safety of all the citizens that are at the mercy of Bowser’s flying fortress that spews lava. Despite the appearance of Donkey Kong, we sadly don’t hear Seth Rogen’s take on the towering animal, though we do see a cameo of Cranky Kong. One wonders if this will be a mid-credit scene at the end rather than an important part of the story given that there’s already a spin-off movie in development for the big ape.
Additionally, there are more elements from the classic 2D side scrollers like the fish, the fire flower and the Tanooki Suit. “Mario Kart” makes a grand debut with a race on Rainbow Road as if “Mad Max: Fury Road” went on a sugar high. The “Galaxy” series with Mario and Luigi traveling across time and space adds more intrigue into how the brothers will traverse the Mushroom Kingdom outside the scenic root consisting of Goombas and Koopas. There’s even a nod to “Super Smash Brothers” with the plumber facing the gorilla in a battle arena, only to get pummeled into a pancake.
Finally, there’s Chris Pratt as Mario who still comes off as a hired celebrity compared to the real Italian plumber, Charles Martinet. Sometimes he sounds legitimate. Other times, he sounds like Chris Pratt, proving that the French dubbed voice acting is the superior take. People might not know this, but Martinet has voiced more video game characters than the plumber including Orvis from “Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time” and Alduin from “Elder Scrolls: Skyrim”. So, to not have faith in him to translate that seldom heard in the games is a disservice to him as an actor. For now, everything hinges on the final product to see if Nintendo can deliver a movie that will live up to everyone expectations regardless of their background as gamers or general movie goers. There’s nowhere to go but up after 1993.