Super Mario Bros. movie brings joy from fans, reservation from critics

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Nintendo and Universal Studios released a still image of Mario and his brother Luigi. “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” has broken records. (Nintendo and Universal Studios via AP)

“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” broke theater records as the highest grossing animated movie opening, beating Disney’s “Frozen 2.”

Earning around $377 million in its debut week, the star-studded Universal Studios and Illumination movie, based on the Nintendo franchise of the same name, is pleasing many fans, but testing some critics.

The movie rating website Rotten Tomatoes scores the film at 57% critical score, while 97% positive among audiences.

Many BYU fans of the video game franchise credit the film’s success to its “honoring” of the source material, “gorgeous” animation and fun tone.

The film follows Brooklyn plumbers Mario, voiced by Chris Pratt, and his brother Luigi, voiced by Charlie Day, separated in a magical world. Mario teams up with Princess Peach, voiced by Anya Taylor-Joy, to defeat a monster named Bowser, voiced by Jack Black.

Ethan Horn, chemistry major at BYU and gaming fan, found the movie enjoyable to watch with his friends.

“The movie does a pretty good job at honoring a whole variety of the original games. There are so many references throughout the whole movie that I’m sure you could watch it over and over again,” Horn said.

Despite the fun, Horn acknowledged the movie is thin on plot, which has been under scrutiny by Rotten Tomatoes reviewers.

Movie critic website RogerEbert.com gave the movie one and a half stars, calling it “soulless,” “hollow” and with storytelling weak enough to feel like it was written by ChatGPT.

Mario and Peach walk through the mushroom kingdom. Mario is voiced by Chris Pratt and Peach by Anya Taylor-Joy. (Nintendo and Universal Studios via AP)

However, some fans and critics have praised the movies design and graphics.

Pre-animation major Tiffani Cookson said she was most impressed by the films dedication to background detail.

“From an animator’s perspective, the film is gorgeous. The detailed texturing creates a believable digital world,” Cookson said. Although Cookson said the style of animation was not unique, she appreciated the film faithfully bringing to life the game’s titular characters.

“The character design was beautifully accurate to the game’s origin,” Cookson said.

Ethan Collier, a Utah resident and lifelong Mario fan, is excited to watch the film after hearing the mixed responses.

“Critics don’t like it but people I’ve heard other people say it’s good. It will be interesting to see how the characters translate to the big screen,” Collier said.

Collier attributes adoration for the original games to the movie’s surprise success.

“The games are usually fun and well made, and definitely nostalgia plays a factor,” Collier said.

Mario first appeared in the video game Donkey Kong in 1981, known simply as “Jumpman.” The original “Super Mario Bros.” game was released in 1985 and has since sold more than 40 million copies, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

The film premiered on April 5, and has continued to perform at the box office.

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