Power ups make great film

Power ups make great film January 19, 2024

I’m late to the Super Mario Bros Movie bandwagon, but I’m glad I jumped on it when I did. Granted, I don’t have the same fond memories of the game that a lot of people do (largely having been confined to playing it at friends’/cousins’ houses, at least until the emulator boom of the 21st century came along). And the earlier movie is best left unmentioned.

Image: Nintendo

That said, this movie is very, very, well done. Even without the nostalgia factor on my end, I still recognized enough from the various versions of the games to enjoy the nods and Easter Eggs (and actual eggs, of course). The action is well-paced, with a combination of fast-paced scenes and moments of rest. The plot is solid enough given the source material and level it’s aimed at–and refreshingly classical as well. There’s no attempt to shoe-horn in contemporary political trends, social issues, or hand-wringing angst. It’s just a classic good-versus-evil narrative.

The show is also well cast, with Jack Black putting in an especially solid performance (then again, I tend to appreciate Jack Black, so do with that what you will).

Perhaps most important, there’s solid character development. Mario (and Luigi, to a lesser extent) has to learn and grow in order to accomplish his mission. Suffering, struggling, pain, and all the other parts of growth that are necessary in our fallen world are present. Yes, he has already-present characteristics that are strengths he can draw on through the movie (his stubbornness is regularly highlighted), but these are insufficient in the face of genuinely destructive evil. He needs help from outside of himself both to win the battles and to learn how to be the sort of person who can win in this world.

In other words, perhaps surprisingly Mario is a well developed character with visible growth and meaningful development over the course of the film. Certainly this is a film that will appeal to Christians (Mario’s suffering saves the world, for example), but as we’ve seen it also appeals to the culture as a whole. Things that have been missing in the past few decades are once again put on display in a solid little film based on a video game that’s nearly 40 years old. So if, like me, you missed the film the first time around, it’s not too late to correct that error.

Highly recommended.

Dr. Coyle Neal is co-host of the City of Man Podcast an Amazon Associate (which is linked in this blog), and an Associate Professor of Political Science at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, MO

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