Growing up with Nintendo being a large part of my life, Mario was the main character in my childhood, even my current life. So like many others, I was excited and nervous when the movie trailer was released. Thankfully it was not a live-action version and had a mixed reaction when the voice actors were announced. My primary grievance is that Mario was voiced by Chriss Pratt rather than Charles Martinet, who has been voicing Mario and Luigi since 1991 when the first game was made.
Starting off the movie with a menacing Bowser scene, like in many games, you see his Bowser-shaped ship making its way to Bowser's castle. King of the Koopa Troopa is greeted by his underlings consisting of hundreds of Koopa Troopas and blue penguins that have been around since the Mario 64 game. The 2004 remake of for the DS I am very familiar with as it was the HARDEST Mario game I had ever tried to play.
Giving us some pre-game lore to when Mario was just a plumber with his brother and not saving Princess Peach from Bowser. The movie was set in Brooklyn, New York, as Mario and Luigi launched their plumbing business through an advertisement. The design has minimally changed, with their red and green shirts replaced with colored shirts, matching hats, jeans overall, and white gloves, which we learn was a decision made to make them stand apart from other plumbing businesses.
The green pipe transported them into the Mushroom Kingdom universe, where Princess Peach arrived as a baby, was taken in by the toads, and later made Princess. Personally, one of my favorite parts was the outfit transformation Princess Peach goes through when consuming the power-ups. These are not only fun but accurate to the games, the transitions are nicely animated, and the outfits have a fantastic attention to detail. I enjoyed the Fire Flower power-up one as it was one the most eye-catching transitions. The outfit staying true to the games while adding details like a lace backing to the dress and the corset having lace and satin on the bodice.
Source: LA Times
The movie gave nostalgic elements from several games, including Mario Cart 8, Mario 64, Mario Galaxy, Super Mario 3D World, Super Mario Odyssey, and Donkey Kong games. It felt like a movie where you tried to spot as many recognizable characters as you could. One of the breakout characters is Lumalee, a blue-to-green gradient star with a tendency to crave death. Based on the Lumalle, a shop star where one can buy 1-Up Mushroom and Life Mushroom commonly appearing before boss battles. Lumalee, like other Lumas, are star-like creatures that can turn into minor planetoids to entire galaxies. They desire to be filled with star bits to the point of exploding, turning them into a planet or galaxy is their entire purpose, so very fitting while everyone panics, Lumalee can wait to die.
While I enjoyed the film, I wish they started more faithfully to the game's animations and character personalities rather than focusing on the Mario universe. At the same time, they should have focused only on one game and universe. Each game starts with a story so it could be built on and feel more realistic to the games. Honorable mention for Jack Black for giving the performance of his life for Bowser, including the iconic song.
I see the movie for the money grab it with a boring and predictable plot. While visually simulated, the movie only offers a scavenger hunt to spot as many familiar characters as possible. The movie's use of so many games makes it feel chaotic, and while some great humor-filled scenes and the power-up transitions, it wasn't enough to carry the beloved franchise into the cinema.
The movie brought in $434 million domestically and $871 million worldwide; the movie was profitable but met with mixed reviews by critics. Mario is one of Nintendo's most significant franchises with a passionate fanbase, so the movie would always make high profits and be met with a hypercritical audience. Overall a decent movie but as a Mario fan, it feels like nostalgic bait with none of the heart and story of the Mario games.