"This one was always going to be huge..."
So I'm almost 36 and I was lucky (or potentially unlucky) enough to have seen the original Super Mario Bros. movie in the cinema when it was originally released, now matter your thoughts on that much beloved stoner classic times have changed and so has CGI and filmmaking technology in general..
So when Nintendo announced that a new Super Mario Bros. was being developed (30 year after they forbid their IP's from ever being adapted) there was a certain sense of cautious optimism attached, this wasn't the Nintendo of the early 90s and despite a few issues here and there, Nintendo is more open to the outside world than ever. That optimism was boosted when it came out that Illumination would be carrying out the animation, for those unaware Illumination have a great track record and are behind the beloved Minions and Sing franchises, so their quality was never in doubt.
So as I sit awaiting the excitement and childhood wonder, a 5 year old me's first two games were both Super Mario Bros. for the SNES and Gameboy respectively, so I understandably wanted to love what I was about to see... 30 years later, adult me is sat in front of the IMAX Screen in utter nerdy gloriousness that is this entry.
To break things down, a lot was said about the voice casting of this movie, Chris Pratt took a lot of flak as Mario with gamers wondering why we could not have Charles Martinet continue voicing Mario as he does in every recent game. However this is dealt with superbly with the opening scene explaining and showing why the voices are different, also after literally a minute or so you don't even notice this at all. As well as Chris Pratt voicing Mario we have Charlie Day as Luigi who whilst not getting as much dialogue is equally great, Bowser is voiced by Jack Black who is suitably memorising and brings his musical talents to the character which is infinitely better than I could of imagined. Another person who needs a nod is Seth Rogan as Donkey Kong who suits this depiction amazingly well, and we have a show stealing performance from Ana Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach, playing a sweet yet no nonsense version of the Princess who isn't being taken hostage without a fight.
The CGI is superb, unburdened by the task of having to be photo realistic it works superbly well. Another amazing part of this film that will appeal to gamers and Mario fans is the Easter Eggs, for the uninitiated Easter Eggs are references to other properties or other entries that aren't explicitly mentioned or touched upon, and boy, near enough every scene in this film boasts a tonne of them, from Jump Man to Punch Out, to Mario Kart and Luigi's Mansion. I feel a second and third watch needed to note all of them and I honestly cannot wait to do so. Also for the adults watch the blue Luma we spot in the cage is gloriously hilarious in a way in which your kids just won't appreciate yet.
The soundtrack is a very cool mix of classic rock and remixed and recorded versions of themes we have seen through to gaming series, some of the background music is also solid references to distinct Super Mario Bros. tracks, the underground theme playing lead to a huge pop in our screening, hats off to Brian Tyler!
To summarise, without hyperbole this has been the most enjoyable release of the year so far, its feel-good, family friendly and appeals to the kids, the adults and the gamers. This is just pure fun and will let you not give a care in the world for 90 minutes.. Roll on the sequel or maybe even a Luigi's Mansion spin off (we can hope) + if anything deserve a universe to be made its Nintendo's plethora of characters, and after 30 years, Illumination is the studio to do it!