Movie Review (2023): The Super Mario Bros Movie

Back when I was younger, I remember how addicted I was to my “Nintendo Gameboy”. It was perhaps the only sort of digital media that I was exposed too- given that downloading games on the PC was too difficult because the only way of transferring the game was via a CD or a pen drive. For me personally, purchasing cartridges of the games I like was much more convenient and one of the standout games during this era of when I was hooked to my “Gameboy” was the Super Mario game.

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It’s been what, a good 10-12 years since I last played any game on my Gameboy but as soon as the movie started and the opening credits rolled out, nostalgia hit in. The iconic tune that preceded the gameplay on the Super Mario game took me back in time when completing a level was the only important thing that I had to achieve in a day. Nintendo itself partnered with Universal Pictures to re-create the memories one experienced while playing the Super Mario game.

The movie revisits the chronicles of Mario in his quest to save the Princess who’s been abducted by Bowser, the evil turtle who threatens to wreak havoc on the Mushroom Kingdom. Very skilfully, the screenplay has captured the essence of the Mario gameplay, which was predominantly in a 2D layout with each section of the map progressively revealing itself as Mario ventured forwards into the level. The same sort layout has been displayed in one of the scenes when Mario and his brother Luigi traverse their way around the suburbs of New York City.

The elements in the cityscape subtly reference the various elements that were an integral part of the Mario gameplay experience – the various bricks over which Mario had to jump, the sudden gaps between two sections of the floor, the ‘question mark’ tiles on which you had to jump to reveal the mushroom that increased Mario’s power, the coins that hovered over the various sections that Mario had to collect and so forth. Keep your eyes closely rooted to spot these references as Nintendo has gone that extra mile to integrate those subtleties into the screenplay which would Universal Studios would otherwise have missed out.

Since I personally watched the movie in 4D, the overall experience of the movie was unparalleled. Sections of the movie were created specifically so that viewers could have an immersive 4D experience. So if given an opportunity, do watch this movie in 4D as this just enhances the viewing experience of a movie that is already created with a lot of direct references to the Mario gameplay, making it a must-watch!

Another very distinct feature that I was made to observe during the movie was the stark differences in the design palette of animation of the characters of the movie. Nintendo offered a very refreshing animation scheme with all the characters having a very distinct look. The animation is not very over the top and there’s that level of design continuity that has been maintained with the Mario gameplay characters in the past. All in all, a lot of attention has been given to the nuances involved in creating a bridge between the Mario gameplay of the past and the movie of today, trying to inculcate the growth in rendering technology while maintaining the vintage look and feel that the Mario game was symbolic of.

Do watch this movie if you’ve ever played any Nintendo game, particularly if you’ve played the Mario game in the past.

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