I really liked it.
- My Surprises
- My Criticisms
Illumination was capable of making a genuinely good movie
Despicable Me, the first movie by Illumination, was a genuinely good movie. It told a heartwarming story with good jokes too. But everything after that was essentially slop that parents could put on to distract their kids for an hour or 2.
So how did this movie turn out so good?! This movie is dripping with real love and passion for Mario in every second and every frame. Everyone's guess is that Miyamoto was breathing down their backs the whole time, and that seems to be about right. Miyamoto and Chris Meledandri (Founder and CEO of Illumination) seem to be buddy-buddy now as well. By the way, I wonder what a Mario movie by Dreamworks would have turned out like... Universal owns both studios, so Miyamoto could have gone to them instead.
|By @datbx_ on Twitter|
Miyamoto allowed for character development and Mario to live in real world Brooklyn with a family
Shiguru Miyamoto is famous for insisting that Mario games are not about story. And that's a totally understandable position to have, I believe games should put gameplay and fun over story and graphics.
Though, some story would be acceptable. Like the storybook in Galaxy (which while writing this, I discovered that it was not actually snuck in without Miyamoto knowing).
And to my surprise, they did more than that. Well, not for the character development. It's minimal and only a few scenes, like Mario's """""""character arc"""""", if you can even call it that, with his dad learning to accept his dream of being a successful plumber. 1 at the start with a family dinner, 1 at the middle where he mentions it to Donkey Kong, and 1 at the end with his dad thanking him for saving the day. But I'm okay with this – I really enjoyed the movie either way.
No, the big thing that surprised me was that the movie's opening was an indirect adaptation of The Super Mario Brothers Super Show. What??? For context, the show introduces Mario & Luigi with them being plumbers living in real world Brooklyn, New York. They end up getting teleported to the Mushroom Kingdom while working on a drain. And that pretty much happens exactly in the movie. In addition, Mario & Luigi have a real family. It was honestly kinda weird seeing their uncles, parents, and siblings, who all resembled the duo but with slight differences. It was a bit uncanny, but they looked fine.
Chris Pratt works as Mario
Were the people making the trailers out to get him or something? Chris Pratt never felt awkward as Mario for a second while watching the movie. Like "yep, that's Mario".
I don't even need to mention the other voice actors here, because everyone knew they were good. Jack Black deserves the role of Bowser more than anything, and like Jim Carrey for Eggman, they play their villain perfectly in the film, both capturing their humor and "threateningness".
The movie was too short, the pacing too fast
The movie was an hour and a half (minus 10 minutes for credits), but it felt more like 20. Big fan of Mario here, so I enjoyed going through all the classics of Mario - the Mushroom Kingdom, Bowser's lands, the Kong Kingdom, Mario Kart, etc. But when the movie was over, it did feel short in retrospect. And for those who aren't such fans of Mario, it might feel a bit too hectic having to get introduced to all these crazy places and concepts in rapidfire. The movie would have benefited from another 20-30 minutes, I'd imagine. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was two hours long and I thought that movie was a pretty solid length and pace.
Edit 4/10/23: I thought about it more, and I think that something more like 5-15 would work. The movie had a great amount of action and I wouldn't want boring meandering that accomplishes nothing to take away from that. /shrug
Luigi was shelved for 80% of the movie
This is just criminal! Luigi is a lot of people's favorite Mario character and the fact he's just AFK for the majority of the film locked away in Bowser's castle doing nothing is a bit unsatisfying. I don't think this plot point was completely useless, as it gave Mario a strong motivation throughout the movie, as he's doing everything to save his brother. And I think the final battle where the brothers get the star power was AWESOME and almost made me forgive them. I imagine that they would have to rework a lot of the movie for Mario and Luigi to stay together while still having a motivation to explore the land and help Peach stop Bowser, other than because they're good people who enjoy the heroics, which doesn't sound like Mario.
The end credits scene was lame
My first reaction was ... okay? We already saw Yoshi in the movie, if only for a brief scene. But thinking about it later, it does set up the plot for Mario 2, possibly. A baby Yoshi runs rampant in Brooklyn eating stuff, and Mario and Luigi have to return to handle the situation. So there you go.
The trailers showed almost the entire movie
If you were keeping up with the movie from reveal to release, you would have seen every plot point I just mentioned and then some.
They didn't credit Grant Kirkhope for the DK Rap
It's odd they didn't! The man was pretty bummed out about it, and for good reason.
As I said, this movie is fantastic at being a Mario movie, I believe. It's beautiful, it pays homage to Mario, and most importantly, the movie is really fun!
If you're not a huge Mario fan, you might like it. But if you are, you will love this movie. Go watch it if you have time to kill.
...9/10? But I'll probably go down to like an 8 over time after fully digesting the movie.
Sorry for not writing a lot in this section, I got tired of writing lol. But trust me, my praises for this movie greatly outweigh any nitpicks I wrote about earlier.
By the way, go read my friend Nick64's review of the movie. Thanks!