Film Review: The Super Mario Bros. Movie (Universal Pictures/Illumination/Nintendo)

By: Jesse Striewski

Remember the original 1993 Super Mario Bros. movie, where the late Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo first played the plumber brothers Mario and Luigi in a live action, heaping mess? It was the first ever film of its kind based off of a video game, and the makers of it painfully missed the mark, leaving audiences severely unimpressed. After all these years, The Super Mario Bros. Movie is what (most) fans have surely been waiting for.

This version is your standard search-and-rescue type of set up when brothers Mario (played by the very non-Italian Chris Pratt – but hey, it’s all about the selective outrage though, am I right?!) and Luigi (portrayed perfectly by Charlie Day of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia fame) are whisked away and separated into an unknown underworld while attempting to save their home city Brooklyn from a plumbing emergency. They also just happen to land while the evil King of the Koopas, Bowser (another spot-on casting move with Jack Black) is plotting on taking over Mushroom Kingdom and marrying Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy). But through the help of Peach, Mario learns just how “super” he can become as he sets off to save both his brother, and the innocent kingdom from peril.

Everything that was left out of the ’93 version makes its way into the story here seamlessly and without feeling forced, as the brothers each encounter strange new lands and befriend new characters along the way. And there’s nearly a reference to every Mario Bros.-related game that’s come since the titular hero’s very first appearance in Donkey Kong all the way back in 1981, with everything from Mario Kart to Luigi’s Mansion. Sure, it’s essentially just a large advertisement for Nintendo, but it never crosses any lines that don’t make any sense to the plot.

All in all The Super Mario Bros. Movie is harmless family entertainment without being too overly cute, and focused solely on its story rather than getting in any unnecessary political agendas or jabs. The humor never stoops to low-brow levels, yet still manages to incorporate jokes aimed at adults. And there are plenty of throwbacks for nostalgia hounds to gush over (even the music, which stays very- ’80s throughout, is always well-placed). The film is a rare labor of love that’s beyond easy to find yourself fully escaping into it’s realms, and quite frankly, probably the best video game-related film produced thus far (sorry, Sonic!).

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Film Review: Jurassic World: Dominion (Universal Pictures)

By: Jesse Striewski

The latest (and final?) installment in the Jurassic World series, and overall sixth film in the Jurassic Park franchise, has received some negative backlash since its release. But in comparison to the last lackluster entry, 2018’s Fallen Kingdom, it’s world’s above in every way possible.

The story picks off exactly where the said previous film had left off, with Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) living off the grid and raising the clone we were first introduced to in Fallen Kingdom, Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon) in total seclusion, in a world where mankind is now living side-by-side with dinosaurs.

But of course there’s some bad guys out there who will go to extreme measures to get her back (as well as the young velociraptor offspring of Blue’s, Beta), including the crooked CEO of Biosyn Genetics, Dr. Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott). While Owen and Claire fight to get her back along with the help of some new friends they meet along the way (including a former air force pilot played by DeWanda Wise) doctors Grant (Sam Neill), Sattler (Laura Dern) and Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) are also uncovering the corruption at Biosyn after a series of events reunites them all back together.

Jurassic World: Dominion is everything a nerd fan boy could want, honestly; high speed chases, loud fights between gigantic monsters, and original characters/actors thrust back together and put onscreen alongside the newcommers. Is Jurassic World: Dominion often cliche and predictable? Sure, I won’t deny it doesn’t tread into those territories from time to time – how can it not at this point?

But overall, I fond myself getting totally lost and engrossed in the material here, probably for the first time since going to see the original Jurassic Park on the big screen all the way back in 1993. Steven Spielberg truly opened our collective imaginations with that first film all those years ago, and for my money, Dominion is the closest I’ve come to having that same feeling again from any of the other films in the franchise since.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars