Super Mario Bros power up for a smash hit


Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures

The Super Mario Bros. Movie poster

The Super Mario Bros. Movie is undeniably taking the world by storm since hitting theaters on April 5. Directed by Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic, the movie follows Mario, voiced by Chris Pratt, and Luigi, voiced by Charlie Day, as they travel through the broken pipes of Brooklyn, chasing their plumbing business dreams. When they are separated and transported into the fantastical universe of the beloved video game they were founded in, Luigi finds trouble in the Dark Lands when he is captured by Bowser (Jack Black), and Mario ends up in the Mushroom Kingdom where he trains alongside Princess Peach to save his brother and defeat Bowser.

The movie deviates from the game in a few key ways, but these decisions were ultimately made for the improvement of the film and the franchise overall. The classic video game story of Mario includes Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy) being captured by Bowser and needing saving, while Mario valiantly fights for her safety (and sometimes belongings), all the while neglecting his brother in the process.

This switch to Luigi being in danger instead of Peach allows for more development in both relationships, as Mario’s devotion to his brother is evident in his relentless journey toward the Dark Lands, while his romantic relationship with Peach is able to naturally blossom as he trains alongside her. The audience is also able to form a connection with Peach through this change, and it serves as a breath of fresh air from the typical damsel-in-distress treatment that women are often subjected to in film.

Despite this switch in typical character gender roles, however, many characters fall flat in terms of development in this film. Characters often appear one-dimensional, with Mario being the only one to receive any form of development via a fish-out-of-water story with a focus on his loyalty to his brother. While this is a movie primarily for children, there were plenty of opportunities to develop characters like Peach and Toad.

Part of this lack of character development comes from the characters’ reliance on power-ups, which are bonus elements of a video game that give the playable characters special abilities and might give a slight advantage. As a crucial part of the video game, power-ups had to be included in the movie, but the characters eventually became reliant on them to overcome any sort of challenge, causing the characters’ lack of growth.

This movie succeeded in its animation and coloring. The characters and world mirror those of the game wonderfully, giving the movie a greater sense of authenticity to its source material. The coloring in the movie also has perfect contrast, with the Mushroom Kingdom being bright and colorful, similar to the game, while the Dark Lands held intense and darker tones.

What also makes the film feel authentic and thrive is the music. Many themes from the original video games throughout the years are included, and this allows the movie to feel true to the decades of games that came before it. There are also a number of popular songs featured throughout, including “Take on Me,” that add to the film’s energetic nature. Overall, with humor to satisfy younger viewers and easter eggs for older audiences who grew up on the games, the movie proves to offer something for people of all ages.

There is no denying the impact that The Super Mario Bros. Movie is having on the current market. It dominated the field and broke sales records this past week, which, if current industry trends are any indication, points strongly toward there being more films with these characters to come in the future.

No matter which way you slice it, this film has been wildly successful, and for that, we have to applaud it.