Super Mario Brothers: a Mark Kermode film review (video).

Has the world been clamoring for another Super Mario Bros. movie? After the 1993 live-action disaster, you’d think not. But here we are in 2023, staring down the barrel of a shiny new computer-animated Mario film from the geniuses at Illumination, Universal Pictures, and Nintendo. Let our man-of-many-movies, Mark Kermode, guide you through the film.

Prepare for a journey to the Mushroom Kingdom that manages to be both a nostalgia trip and a prime example of Hollywood cashing in on beloved franchises. Is this a Goomba-stomping success or just another unfortunate warp pipe misadventure? Let’s dive in.

First, let’s address the elephant in the room, or rather, the gorilla: Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong. Yes, you read that right. The lovable stoner comedy king is now an anthropomorphic gorilla with daddy issues. But let’s not get too hung up on that, as there are plenty of other big names to chuckle at, like Chris Pratt’s ever-so-slightly Italian Mario, and Anya Taylor-Joy’s Princess Peach, who’s clearly slumming it between more prestigious roles.

The plot itself is an origin story for the Mario Bros., as if the world needed another one of those. Expect plenty of callbacks to classic Mario games, and a few new twists thrown in for good measure. The writers have stuffed this film with so many references, it’s like they’re speedrunning through 30 years of Mario history. From the Mushroom Kingdom to the Dark Lands, this adventure will have you longing for the simplicity of stomping on Goombas and collecting coins.

And speaking of coins, let’s not forget the almighty dollar. This film was clearly made with one thing in mind: merchandising. From karts that look like they rolled straight off the set of Mario Kart to cute, marketable sidekicks like Toad, this movie practically screams, “Buy our toys and games!” And we can’t forget about the obligatory Rainbow Road sequence, tailor-made for a theme park attraction. Is it just me, or does the whole thing reek of a boardroom meeting gone wrong?

In conclusion, The Super Mario Bros. Movie is a film that knows its audience: fans with wallets. If you’re looking for a nostalgia trip with a sarcastic edge, this film will have you rolling your eyes and chuckling at the sheer audacity of it all. But if you’re hoping for an engaging adventure that’s not just a thinly veiled advertisement for the next big Mario game, well, you might be better off sticking to your trusty old Nintendo console.

Super Mario Brothers: a Mark Kermode film review (video).
Super Mario Brothers: a Mark Kermode film review (video).

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