Movie Review: The Super Mario Brothers Movie

It seems striking that this movie, of all movies, would spark so much in the way of discourse. Given the way that this movie has a functional plot (in that it is much like John Wick 4, which is no insult), it seems that it is not the film itself but what it signifies that makes it so important. What I wish to do in this review is to, at least eventually, give at least some discussion about the larger talking points, but also to discuss the film itself and its context. Whether or not you will like this film or not will depend on a lot of factors. Those people who, like me, approach this film with a fondness for the video game series that inspired the movie, will find a lot to enjoy here. Other than that, this movie is a pretty obvious sort of remote babysitter to keep children amused for an hour and a half or so. Aside from fans of the video games or children, this film is likely to be found to be at least serviceable. It likely won’t win any new fans for the series but it should please existing fans, and that is an interesting part of the discourse that surrounds this particular movie.

This movie offers a visual palette that very much reminds the viewer of the video game, and the involvement of the Nintendo creative team makes sure that this film looks very authentically Mario in its design. This authenticity is important, because as far as the movie’s plot goes, this film has at least a few similarities with the previous flop film that marked the last attempt for Nintendo to turn one of its important franchises into a successful film or perhaps even a series, yet the film’s authenticity to the world of Mario allows it to rise above its predecessor and perhaps make enough to be worthy of more films along this line. The visuals of this film are gorgeous, and the film’s aesthetic resembles in many ways the game itself, not only in terms of character and terrain design but also in the way that powerups function. Not only does the world provide plenty of opportunity for sequels and spin-offs–and those watching this film should stay to the end of the credits as there are a couple of scenes that hint at future directions that the series might take and that would be welcome.

As far as the film’s emotional and intellectual resonance goes, this film is not particularly deep. Even so, there are some obvious themes that will be appreciated here. There is an obvious brotherhood here among characters who demonstrate their ability to overcome character flaws and work together and appreciate the loyalty of friendship, legitimate authority, and family, all of which are celebrated in the film. The film also maintains the romantic triangle between Bowser, Peach, and Mario while also hinting at the possibility of Luigi’s Mansion, really providing useful fan service that will be appreciated. That is true with the minor characters as well. To the extent that this film marks the successful effort of Nintendo to market its core properties in film, it is likely that this film’s approach will be copied.

But what lessons will people take from this film? For rather straightforward reasons, this film has been viewed as a blow against woke culture from Universal, a rival to Disney World in the entertainment space from films to amusement parks. Where Disney has committed to promoting a woke agenda in its films, hammering audiences with unwanted and immoral messaging at the cost of entertainment, this film offers pretty basic fan service that shows a commitment to entertaining fans of Nintendo even where this comes at the cost of making a more fully developed script. Given the fact that both Universal and Nintendo look to be printing money from this movie, it is curious to see which lessons, if any, studios take from this film’s massive success. Will people neglect the fake outrage that happened over the supposed lack of representation in voice acting in the future as happened here? Will film studios focus on entertaining their fans rather than trying to lecture to them or bombard them with decadent propaganda? We can only hope.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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