The animation is gorgeous (despite the original creepy design of the movie version of the character), and the Sonic-themed comedy hits most of the right beats throughout the movies. Sonic never takes himself too seriously, which makes him perfect for a kids movie, and it also doesn’t hurt that Sonic has been a dubbed character in both the games and his own animated series for decades. . Unlike Mario, Sonic speaks frequently during most of his adventures, and he has a very sharp tongue, constantly joking with his peers and trading barbs with his enemies at all times. That’s why the style of dialogue in his films feels natural for this character (despite some really grating lines).
The combination of animation and live-action in the Sonic Cinematic Universe also fits the series incredibly well. So many of Sonic’s games have taken place in areas with metropolises and human elements. This makes for an easy translation when the character is put back into this setting from the film. Mario doesn’t really have that advantage, as evidenced by the Super Mario Bros. movie that transported Mario and Luigi to a decaying urban hell in 1993. There’s no denying Nintendo’s hero looked and felt out of place. Luckily, the new Super Mario movie is an animated film, which means it can adapt the fantastical landscapes fans are more familiar with from games instead of pushing the character on realistic settings.
After the ’90s live-action movie, it’s really no surprise that Nintendo dropped any future Mario movie plans for the next three decades. He has long been Nintendo’s most prized possession, and to this day the publisher does not allow anyone to play as the character, whether for a video game or any other medium. Which is why it’s so shocking that Nintendo trusts Chris Pratt to voice its most important property, one that’s historically been silent beyond a few key taglines. In fact, none of Nintendo’s most iconic characters usually speak in full sentences. Mario, Luigi, Bowser, and Peach have a few select phrases they vocalize in each game, but nothing on the level of the Sonic series.
To be fair, very little is known about the plot or the making of this new animated film. Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto helped develop the film, which is being directed by Cartoon Network creators Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic. The Teen Titans Go!with the animation being handled by Illumination, the studio behind despicable Me, The secret life of petsand Sing. Questionable casting choices aside, there’s a great team behind this film.
Its many failures as a film aside, this week sonic the hedgehog 2 is a fairly faithful adaptation of the video game universe, with homages to the Green Hill Zone, Knuckles, Tails, and quite a few surprises that will blow fans of classic and modern Sonic titles alike. It feels like a celebration of those video games, and the Mario movie creative team is expected to take a similar approach with their adaptation. Mario is arguably the most recognizable video game character in history and the movie should feel like a new way to engage with his world and the myriad of other Nintendo characters in it.
For example, the visuals for the animated Mario movie should mimic the bright and colorful Mushroom Kingdom that we love. It’s a richly detailed setting, an absolute gift for filmmakers looking for ways to sneak in fun Easter eggs and nods to Bomb-Ombs, Goombas, Koopa Troopas, and Chain Chomps. With Mario also able to dive down green pipes that lead to mysterious new corners of his world, or travel across the galaxy like in recent games, it’s a video game universe brimming with possibilities. Mario can even fly, possess enemies, transform into metal, and more, thanks to his trusty collection of hats. There’s so much material to explore, including in potential sequels.