Plot: What’s it about?
Who’d have thought, back in 1983, that a video game about a gorilla that captures a princess only to be saved by a plumber would still be relevant four decades later? Well, it is. In fact, the Mario universe is probably as popular as its ever been. There have been multiple generations that have played at least one Mario game and there are plenty to choose from. And why not? What’s not to like? The adorable Italian in his overalls trying to rescue a princess and fighting off things that I can’t even describe. Likely everyone shares an affinity for Mario and his brother, Luigi. This, of course, isn’t the first Mario Bros. movie – there was a live action one back in the early 90’s and, well, let’s just say that less said about that – the better. This time around, they did it right giving fans the look, feel and countless references to anything and everything Mario.
We meet the siblings, Mario (voiced by Chris Pratt) and Luigi (voiced by Charlie Day), two struggling plumbers who are trying to get their business off the ground. While trying to avert a disaster in the sewers, the duo are sucked into a mysterious green pipe that lands them in a different world. Mario ends up in Mushroom Kingdom where he meets Toad (voiced by Keegan-Michael Key) while Luigi lands in Bowser’s (voiced by Jack Black) world. Mario vows to try and save his brother with the help of Princess Peach (voiced by Anya Taylor-Joy), someone who Bowser has an obsession with. It’s an uphill battle, to be sure, Mario ends up in an arena fight with Donkey Kong (voiced by Seth Rogen), there’s a sequence on Rainbow Road (anyone who’s played Mario Kart will appreciate the sequence) and even a face-off with Banzai Bill.
I find that when you make movies for fans, it pays off. There are countless references to most every Mario game out there and I’m sure that I missed a ton of them. But it shows how articulate and fan-based the filmmakers are. It paid off as well, it’s the highest-grossing movie made off a video game ever (sorry, Warcraft). And in the days of things being politically-correct, I found that this wasn’t like I thought it was going to be – P.C. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not offensive in the least, it’s just not indicative of the types of movies these days. All stereotypes are intact and perhaps that’s what made it a bit more enjoyable. Given the film’s commercial success, I’d say we’ll see the brothers back in another adventure and with a few major characters absent from this one (Yoshi, anyone?) I’m sure there’s plenty of fodder left for a few more films.
Video: How’s it look?
I can probably count the number of computer-animated films on one hand that I’ve ever found fault in. This one, streamed on iTunes, looks perfect. Yes, perfect. The 2.39:1 HEVC 4K image is colorful, detailed and is so bursting with life that I’ve already run out of good things to say. The textures on the costumes, the intricate backgrounds and everything in between. Truthfully, this is one that you should see on the biggest screen possible. If you’ve ever wanted to feel like you were a player in a video game – this is about as close as you can get to making it happen.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Until I saw this movie, I’d not imagined what it’d be like to hear AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” playing in the background while Mario was trying to save the day. I guess I can cross that one off my bucket list, eh? Kidding aside, the Dolby Atmos soundtrack pulls no punches. And all the familiar sounds are here with the “power up” indicator along with enough Italian stereotyped dialogue to offend the entire country. OK, maybe not. Surrounds are constantly active, especially during the final act. If it keeps a big kid like me satisfied, I think we can safely assume that it’ll work wonders for the target demographic.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Unless I’m missing something, there weren’t any extras to be found. We’ll probably have to wait for the disc for those.
The Bottom Line
Fans of Mario, this is for you. The Super Mario Bros. Movie managed to improve on the 90’s live action version (though, admittedly, the bar was set pretty low) and we’ve been given what most of us have been waiting for. As with some of the earlier Pixar films, this one appeals to kids and adults alike and there’s something here for everyone.