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The Super Mario Bros. Movie hews so close to the tropes of the popular video game that you feel as though you’re watching a nostalgic succession of game levels instead of an actual movie.

It says a lot about the atrocity of the 1993 live-action adaptation that it took Hollywood thirty years to have another stab at a movie about the most iconic video game ever. While an obvious improvement, The Super Mario Bros. Movie still doesn' represent a major step up though.

The colourful animation by Illumination Studios does draw you in at first, as do cute real-world references to items and situations anyone who's ever played the game will recognise. But once plumbers Mario and Luigi stumble into the Mushroom Kingdom the film starts to lose the plot.

It's easy to see why the filmmakers indulge in elaborate, nostalgic recreations of not just the original Mario game but it's offshoots like Mario Kart as well, but it makes for a movie that goes nowhere narratively and is a predictable bore for most of its runtime.

The one aspect of The Super Mario Bros. Movie that goes beyond level-up filmmaking is a fun performance by Jack Black as antagonist Bowser, especially in a silly, Meatloaf-inspired ballad that deserves Oscar attention, but otherwise it's slim pickings on the creative front.

Thus The Super Mario Bros. Movie becomes yet another film that cashes in on nostalgia instead of forging a way ahead into new, more exciting territory.

release: 2023

director: Aaron Horvath, Michael Jelenic

starring: Chris Pratt, Anya Taylor-Joy, Jack Black, Seth Rogen


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