With cult classics like Mario’s Time Machine (opens in new tab)Mario Teaches Typing (opens in new tab)Mario is Missing (opens in new tab)and the id Software bootleg port of Super Mario 3 (opens in new tab), it was only natural that PC gamers cover the cinematic revival of Super Mario. The plucky plumber with a heart of gold starred in a new trailer for his upcoming animated movie, simul-cast to the NYC Comic Con and YouTube (opens in new tab).
Series creator Shigeru Miyamoto showed up first to introduce the project and thank the fans of Mario’s three official PC appearances. The developer then ceded the floor to producer Chris Meledandri, who asserted that the cast and crew consisted of Mario “fanatics,” some kind of praetorian guard or sardaukar legion for the cult gaming figure.
The stream then shifted to Chris Pratt, who stated it was a “lifelong dream” to voice Mario. Pratt then handed the mic to Jack Black, who will play the film’s antagonist, Bowser. Bowser doesn’t appear directly in Mario Teaches Typing (just his castle), but he is in Mario’s Time Machine and Mario is Missing. Bowser also figures prominently in the Mario series’ semi-canonical console spinoffs. Black seems to have heavily invested himself into the role, drawing on the Method school of acting.
We were then treated to the trailer itself, which actually kinda bangs? The art is really vibrant, reminiscent of an even more souped up, hi-fi take of the Pixary look from the Mario vs. Rabbids (opens in new tab) games. No “Nintendo Hire this Man (opens in new tab)” here. The CGI also has a nice sense of weight and presence that I like—pay close attention to the way the penguin king’s little foot crushes into the snow, for example.
The trailer consists of a sequence of Bowser raining hell on a peaceful kingdom of penguin people, in contravention of the Geneva Convention, before cutting to Mario arriving in the Mushroom Kingdom, presumably for the first time. It then ends with a brief first look at Mario’s brother, Luigi, fleeing from a gaggle of “Dry Bones”—a subspecies of gruesome undead turtle pulled from the Mario lore. I hope we see more deep cuts from the lore like this, such as Mikhail Gorbachev (opens in new tab) (R.I.P.)
With some clever lateral thinking, Pratt as Mario has crucially dodged the pernicious “Italian Accent Question” that has dogged production up until now. Instead of a pale imitation of Charles Martinet’s distinctive, Italian-accented falsetto, or else falling back on a neutral-accented delivery, Pratt has taken a third option. I detect a distinct Brooklyn, “eyyyyy I’m walkin’ here!” cast to his delivery of the “Mushroom Kingdom, here we come!” line at the end of the trailer.
As a devotee of Mario’s niche PC gaming catalogue, I come away impressed by this letter first look. It still seems like an overreaction, spending this much money and star power on an adaptation of Mario Teaches Typing, Mario is Missing, and Mario’s Time Machine, though maybe I shouldn’t be surprised: the Philips CD-i release, Hotel Mario (opens in new tab)has a rabid fan base.