-Super Mario Bros. Movie-Review Summary: The consensus of critics says the latest in illumination looks good, but is narrative shallow.

The Super Mario Bros. movie of Illumination hit theaters this week and we've gone through a review to see what critics think about the first anime blockbuster of the year.

It's been a long, long time since I put together a review with Cartoon Brew. The last big studio animation feature to get a wide release was Puss in Boots: The Last Wish way back in 2022, 12 months ago. The film, like Mario's, was also distributed by Universal Pictures.

We're excited to head to the theater for a big-budget popcorn movie and hope that a wait like that between Puss in boots and Mario is a post-Covid blip and not something we have to get used to.

The Super Mario Bros. movie is directed by Teen Titans Go. Producer and director Aaron Horvath and Michael Jerenick from the script by Matthew Vogel. It was produced by Chris Meredandri of Illumination and Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Mario.

Few of the reviews so far have shone overwhelmingly or been critical of the film, as represented by the current Rotten Tomatoes aggregate score of 54% and a Metacritic rating of 49.

Many reviewers have found the film particularly good or memorable because it was made to appeal to the widest possible audience. The consensus seems to be that the movie is inherently comfortable food. It's good enough to entertain for 90 minutes, but certainly not something that is likely to stand out much more than what would make a tremendous box office.

A common complaint among critics is that Mario's character is a bit boring. Without getting into the debate of Chris Pratt, who has been furious since his casting was announced, the film suffers from a hero who has no real story of his own. Mario has been around for decades, and Nintendo has deliberately kept him a bit of a blank slate. It is similar to the problems Disney faces with implementing Mickey Mouse with any kind of content that requires the growth of sophisticated stories or characters. We will not develop billions of characters already for the benefit of these media companies.

Other critic complaints and a lot of praise have piled up in the film. Here are some takes that give a good sense of consensus on the Super Mario Bros. movie:

Rex Briscuso in rap that the movie is the most immersive experience to date, and that the movie "can make a real mark on the world of feature-length animation.""

Illumination has proven itself now in the field of animation, but they come to the plate with obvious pride and care to this property and give fans a vibrant and immersive visual that recalls both the original game and the studio's own, now signature style sense. The different worlds of the film - the Mushroom Kingdom, the Jungle Kingdom, the Kingdom of Bowser, etc. - are all so rich and full of life.

Katie Walsh of the Los Angeles Times, in her own words, was "mildly" amused, and the film "was quick, loud and mercilessly paced."

The film hops from set-piece to set-piece, and the animation is certainly eye-opening - few backgrounds and elements of this world are barely photographed This style also frees Mario's activities from the flat horizontal landscapes we are accustomed to, jumping over obstacles trained by the princess. It puts a dynamic perspective in a more action pack.

Atlantic's Dave Sims thought the movie was almost bearable, but had all the good things to say about the animation.:

[The film] is hilariously animated and deeply committed to a world that audiences may recall from playing any of the franchise's games over the past 30 years. The film comes from Illumination, an animation studio that has long pumped up films featuring cute canary yellow imbeciles that are chemically designed to please children. Super Mario Bros. movies, on Friday, are no different. This is a 92-minute injection of child-friendly pleasure that whizzes fast enough to prevent adults from becoming enraged or bored.

Matthew Hough's review for the Av Club seemed to be satisfied enough with the film and its aesthetics, although he was disappointed that the lighting was not a little more daring in its execution:

Although the references confirm that it attracts Nintendo enthusiasts, and the comic humor of the standard lighting style Will please young people, the movie does not have a ton to offer otherwise. Peach is pluckier and Bowser is romantic with a tendency for piano ballads, but isn't much new or fresh in the way of story or animation. Like a piranha plant where weak themes of brotherhood and friendship pop up occasionally and quickly retreat, a universe full of magic pipes is never fully explored, and Peach's backstory is suggested and then dropped (a post-credits scene that suggests a sequel might mean the writer is saving this later). The writing is laughable, and the voice acting is passable, but neither of them requires a 2nd playthrough (not Mario Party 2).

Clarise Loughrey At The Independent would have appreciated the movie's action sequences and video game slowbacks, but would have liked the infusion of stories to justify the franchise's big-screen moves.

To the credit of the film would have been the same as screenwriter Matthew Fogel's bare-bones plot suggests. It is certainly not dull and self-serious as it is. Many, many nods to Mario lore are attractively staged – koopas and goombas and yoshis, oh me. - And there are some well-executed sequences including Mad Max: Fury Road-esque take on the popular Mario Kart game. While Mario Bros. films historically lacked a plot, they should not be allowed to demand anything more than mere ability.