Super Mario Bros, the film is no better than a big ad for Nintendo (review)

Super Mario Bros, the film is no better than a big ad for Nintendo (review)

A soft Illumination in the shape of a retro cuddly toy, which was a hit, but didn’t charm Première. And you ?

Super Mario Bros. will be broadcast this evening on Canal +. Does the editorial team recommend it to you? Not really. But it is impossible to ignore this enormous success of the year 2023: the biggest hit of the moment for us with 7 million entries, and in the top 3 worldwide between barbie And Oppenheimer.

Here is our review, while waiting to give it another chance from 9:10 p.m. in encrypted mode.

“It’s not advertising, it’s cinema!” Luigi yells at his brother Mario, while Jumpman (the first historical Mario) plays at a retro arcade machine in the Punch Out pizzeria decorated with photos of old Nintendo games. Super Mario Bros, the movie started less than ten minutes ago (with Koji Kondo’s original theme as an amuse-bouche, of course), and he literally orders you not to consider it as what it is, however, as what the viewer paid to come and see on the big screen: a giant ad for the Nintendo universe. How could it have been otherwise? Nintendo games are, in essence, games before being stories, gameplays before being stories. So we have to find a damn good excuse to transform Mario into a passive narrative object, or, to put it more bluntly, into a film. Well, there isn’t, and that’s perhaps the main problem.

Compared to the games, Super Mario Bros, the movie offers nothing more, different or better. As Zelda Or Metroidthe Mario games reaffirm with each opus the modernity of their original playful formula (as emphasized by Frantz Durupt in his review of Breath of the Wild in Libération) rather than seeking to reinvent oneself at all costs. Being an official Nintendo product, Super Mario Bros. tells a story that is both soft (Bowser wants to conquer the Mushroom Kingdom because) and tart (Mario wants to prove to his dad that he is worth something as a plumber – seriously?), all punctuated by hits from the 80s as Take On Me.

This is the meeting between Nintendo’s advertising desire and Illumination technique: the studio of Minions being in charge, the technique of the film – certainly pretty and polished, but neither more nor less than most animated blockbusters, between hyperrealism and pure cartoon – boils down to heavy nostalgic references and little offbeat comic digs within big epic scenes. The intro scene, where the Koopas lay siege to the little penguins’ ice castle, is a real textbook case, ranging from idiotic gags in counterpoint to an ultra epic staging with Battle Without Honor Or Humanity (yes, the music of Kill Bill) in the background…

Everything is so casual and detached that the film seems made to be watched with the minimum attention span possible: there is a go-kart chase. For what ? because the characters want to get from point A to point B, and the only way to get there is to use karts out of nowhere. Except for the desire to make a huge scene at the Mario Kart. Does the video game Mario Kart need to justify yourself? But does a film Super Mario Bros. needs to be something other than a loss leader using all the tips and tricks of theentertainment retro comforter wanting to be a hit with both the 8-bit console generation and their children? Probably not, and that’s when we know that the film is going to be a hit and, deep down, we’re a little sad to be so disconnected.

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