It’s probably obvious by now, but in case I didn’t mention it enough somehow, I’m a huge Mario fan. Run the original text Super Mario Bros. Not only is it one of my earliest memories (I’m one of those people who don’t remember their childhood in great detail) but it’s also one of my most important. It was the game that made me fall in love with video games and playing on this Famicom console is the time I spend with my dad, brother and childhood friend that I will always cherish. Over the years, Super Mario (and the entire Mushroom Kingdom gang) has become a really important aspect of my life, and even now when I flick away at my keyboard, the flick of keys is accompanied by at least three versions of Mario sitting on my desk staring back at me.
However, cinema is one of my other darlings. I love movies – and I’m one of those old fuzzies who still enjoys the whole cinema experience. So, as you can imagine, in 2017 when rumors started swirling of a Mario animated movie on the way (followed by official confirmation in early 2018) I was very excited to see my favorite mustachioed hero on the big screen. However, after considering, we say, a stranger 1993 Super Mario movie And the fact that Illumination (the makers of Minions) will be the studio behind the movie, admittedly, my excitement was quickly clouded by some serious concerns. And while I’m very glad Mr. Miyamoto is co-producing the movie, the September 2021 voice acting announcement was a little strange and unexpected.
Charles Pratt…Chris Martinet?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not actually worried about the fact that Chris Pratt will be playing Mario. Sure, Charles Martinet will always be Mario. However, he is involved in movies in a way and I actually admire Pratt in everything he does. And let’s be honest, even though Anya Taylor-Joy isn’t necessarily relevant for voice-only roles, she looks exactly like the real-life Princess Peach. Plus, Charlie Day as Luigi and Jack Black as Bowser also seem like good choices. My real concern is taking the stale world of Super Mario and trying to make it work narratively; Getting the sort of coherent and fun story from a plumber with magical mushroom-infused powers who rescues a princess from a giant dragon lizard king who he then races against goes go-karts for the weekend… well, crazy. To put it lightly. Recent revelations that the film has been delayed (skipping a massive vacation period in December) to April 2023 has done little to assuage my fears that this film is difficult to write.
Video game movies…good now!?
All that said, recent video game-to-movie adaptations have succeeded. I really enjoyed Detective Pikachu. I had a ball at Indiana Jones Lite Unknown Movie. And the Sonic 2 It just broke another viewership record while also managing to delight most critics as well. And Sonic’s example in particular is encouraging. Sure, Sonic always said more than Mario, so writing where he ironically beats the bad guys is a lot easier to work with than “Let’s-a Go! Wahooo!”. However, Dr. Robotnik, who collects rings and gems and a two-tailed propeller-driven squirrel are not the things that novels are often written about. However, even as it leans heavily into the video game elements of this sequel – Sonic manages to stay relevant and fun as a movie. Plus, in the case of Mario, the movie will be fully animated which means they can take more liberties, right? So, can my dream come true? Will a Super Mario movie really be that good?
Well, at this point, I’d be glad if it was OK. And for now, I’m clinging to that sliver of hope that makes my excitement outweigh my anxiety.
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