The first teaser trailer for "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" gave us the "wrong-sounding Muppets" version of Mario voiced by Chris Pratt, a fantastic portrayal of Toad by Keegan-Michael Key, an army of penguins from Super Mario 64, and the crushing reveal that in this movie, Mario Mario has no ass. Fortunately, the second trailer is a massive improvement, teasing worlds, characters, and iconic moments dating all the way back to Mario's introduction in the 1981 "Donkey Kong" arcade game.
Directed by Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic ("Teen Titans Go!," "Teen Titans Go! To the Movies") from a screenplay by Matthew Fogel ("The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part," "Minions: The Rise of Gru"), "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" boasts a ridiculously stacked cast including Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach, Charlie Day as Luigi, Jack Black as Bowser, Keegan-Michael Key as Toad, Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong, Fred Armisen as Cranky Kong, Kevin Michael Richardson as Kamek, Sebastian Maniscalco as Spike, and yes, Chris Pratt as Mario.
Longtime Mario voice actor, Charles Martinet, has been announced to appear in the film but no official character or contribution has been released, and based on the painstaking amount of time I spent going frame-by-frame of the new trailer, I have a bad feeling that our beloved voice of a generation is going to be saved for a cameo or side characters. Fortunately, Pratt doesn't talk a lot in this new trailer, and there's plenty of great stuff to celebrate instead.
It's Time To SMASH!
The opening of the "Super Mario Bros." trailer shows our overall-clad hero walking into a coliseum, with hundreds of cheering fans awaiting a battle. Across from Mario is Donkey Kong, atop the famous red beams that introduced both characters during the arcade era. It's a fascinating design choice, as it appears to marry both the original "Donkey Kong" game with the Temple Tempest stage of "Donkey Kong Country," while also looking like a stage straight out of "Super Smash Bros." To be honest, it looks quite a bit like the Coliseum in "Super Smash Bros." for Wii U and "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate" from the "Fire Emblem" series, which is a really odd reference to pull, but I'm not mad about it.
Chris Pratt gives a half-hearted "let's-a go" before diving at DK, who absolutely whomps him. Toad, Princess Peach, and Cranky Kong (who is a king now?!) look on. The trailer then cuts to a face-off with Bowser and Luigi, before a shot of Bowser minions like Goombas, Koopas, Shy Guys, Piranha Plants, Bob-ombs, Chargin' Chucks, and the "Super Mario Galaxy" Bats are shown looking ready for battle. Bowser wants Luigi to tell him who this new human is threatening his hostile takeover and Luigi panics, just as expected. Charlie Day was a seriously inspired choice for Luigi, and Jack Black's Bowser is properly threatening. I'm into it.
OMG PRINCESS PEACH, I LOVE YOU!
As Bowser's Castle (and island) ominously heads toward the Mushroom Kingdom, we see Princess Peach giving directives to a league of Toads from the room opposite the stained glass window of Peach's castle in "Super Mario 64." Anya Taylor-Joy doesn't have the traditional high-pitched voice of Peach, but this change works really well for the character. She sounds like the hero of an action-adventure film, and it's a welcomed change that allows the character to shed the "damsel in distress" origins. Because as anyone who mains Peach in any Nintendo game can tell you, Princess Peach ain't nothin' to f*** with.
The toads look at a virtual map that looks a lot like a cross between "Super Mario 3/World" and the recent "Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury," and looks to show the Mushroom Kingdom, DK Island, Bowser's Castle, Yoshi's Island, and ... Sarasaland?! ARE WE GETTING PRINCESS DAISY?! Peach is trying to encourage the Toads to join the fight, hyping them up for battle with a motivational speech, while Bowser walks out of the flames and Peach dons her bike suit from "Mario Kart 8." She's also holding a massive weapon she took from a guard, which may very well have been a different Toad. It's not uncommon for Toads to be armed, as they've been seen in games like "Super Mario Galaxy" and even "Paper Mario" on the defense.
Our main Toad, perfectly voiced by Keegan-Michael Key, wields a frying pan, giving me hope that we'll meet Tayce T. at some point. He's also got his Captain Toad backpack on, which is so cute I might throw up. Thankfully, a Toad heard me, as one laments they can't fight Bowser because, "Look at us, we're adorable!"
Mario's Training Grounds
Peach takes Mario to a training ground floating in the ether, which looks like every Mario side-scroller course we all tried drawing at the bottom of our homework as kids. What's interesting, however, is that since the course is just there, it seems like a vague reference to "Super Mario Maker," the game creation system that allows players to make the weirdest and wildest Mario courses they can imagine. If Princess Peach herself is the one crafting this course, I guess "RubberRoss" O'Donovan, the King of "Super Mario Maker," better watch his back.
Mario confidentially attempts the course, and, uh, fails miserably, taking a ride on a Bullet Bill in the process. The trailer then cuts to Mario, Peach, and Toad walking across a bridge, with Cheep Cheeps flying overhead. Mario takes a Cheep Cheep to the face, but luckily his new friends can take the fish off of him, rather than lose a life.
The next few seconds are a barrage of quick-cut scenes of some of Mario's most memorable moments like Tanuki Mario (or "Raccoon Mario" for us filthy Americans who never bothered to learn the real name) and Peach gaining Fire Flower power, complete with Fire Peach costume change. She doesn't get the ponytail like in "Super Mario Sunshine," but I appreciate the Nintendo Polish of the dress change.
LOOK AT ALL THE YOSHIS!
In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, there's a shot of Yoshi's Island featuring a scurry of Yoshis of all different colors. For the uninitiated, "Yoshi's Island" is one of the best Nintendo games ever made based purely on how much serotonin it can help your brain create. It is literally impossible to play "Yoshi's Island" without being overwhelmed with the warm fuzzies, and it should probably be illegal to play the game in a bad mood. Yoshi is typically voiced by Kazumi Totaka, and hopefully, Illumination was wise to pull a "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" and allow the video-game voice to stay the same, as Yoshi is mostly just comprised of the most adorable sounds in the galaxy.
The trailer then cuts to an Ice Palace, which we know from the teaser trailer is inhabited by all of the penguins. I am desperately hoping Mario has to return a baby penguin to its mother at some point if only so Chris Pratt has to feel the pain of everyone who has ever played "Super Mario 64" and had to walk painfully slow across the ice so as to not drop a crying baby. Bowser is shown blowing fire on the door to open it, another callback to the teaser.
We then see Mario being pulled through a gravitational portal, reminiscent of "Super Mario Galaxy." He catches up with Luigi in the portal, who is donning his plumber's tool belt. We do know from the teaser that Luigi will at some point whip out the Poltergust 3000 to fight some ghosts, which is a delight to any fans of "Luigi's Mansion" (like me).
Take A Ride On Rainbow (Fury) Road
Saving the best for last, "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" trailer ends with Mario driving his traditional kart from "Super Mario Kart," launching off of a ramp and onto, what else, but the most famous route in all of "Mario Kart," Rainbow Road. As Mario, Toad, and Peach (on the bike!) all land, it is shown that they are not alone, as riders like Donkey Kong, and what looks to be some of the "Donkey Kong Country" characters like Funky Kong and Diddy Kong following close behind. Given the massively souped-up vehicles, like Toad's monstrous rider, I am praying for a racing showdown between the Mushroom Kingdom/Donkey Kong Country and Bowser/Koopas/Kooplings.
Ultimately, "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" looks like a love letter to the legacy of the "Super Mario" franchise, with beautiful animation, plenty of Easter eggs, and a sincerely good, strong voice cast ... with one glaring exception. Will I be throwing a tantrum that Charles Martinet is only there to voice random side characters and not actually voicing the character he made iconic? Yes. Will I happily be there on opening night and probably crying the second I hear a Yoshi on screen? Also yes.
"The Super Mario Bros. Movie" hits theaters on April 7, 2023.
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