Bits & Bytes: Movies

Robert mulls over the casting news for the new Mario movie and questions not having Charles Martinet in the lead!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 09/26/2021 18:53 2 Comments     ShareThis

Bits & Bytes is a weekly column where Editor-in-Chief Robert shares his thoughts about video games and the industry on a lazy Sunday. Light reading for a day of rest, Bits & Bytes is short, to the point, and something to read with a nice drink.

I’m cautiously optimistic about Nintendo’s upcoming Super Mario Bros. movie with animation house Illumination. Very cautiously optimistic because, let’s face it, video game movies have been of utterly dubious quality for decades. The original Super Mario Bros. film starring Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo has become something of a cult classic in certain circles, but outside of my own childhood affection for the movie, let’s be real—it’s not all that good. At least, in terms of capturing the spirt of the games.

That has always been the Achilles’ heel of video game to film adaptations. The seemingly relentless desire by Hollywood executives to strip the source material of all the things that make the games enjoyable and unique. At least the studio had the decency to put Hoskins and Leguizamo in red and green, but beyond that the movie is virtually unrecognizable as anything having to do with Mario, Luigi, and the Mushroom Kingdom.

This latest stab at a Mario film seems to have some promise given Shigeru Miyamoto’s involvement, but I have to admit that I wasn’t thrilled to hear that Charles Martinet won’t be taking on the lead role of Mario himself. Charles Martinet is Mario. It might sound a bit hyperbolic to put it that way, but the man has been portraying the famous plumber since the ‘90s when he was working trade shows for Nintendo. Of course, by the time Super Mario 64 launched, Martinet was indistinguishable from the character. Martinet gave Mario personality and it’s the persona that the actor crafter for the character that has persisted for nearly 30 years.

Admittedly, Martinet’s acting in the part of Mario is limited to sound bytes. Even in the Mario & Luigi series, where Martinet is able to show off a wee bit more range, it’s nothing compared to the multitude of lines and myriad of emotions that a typical voice role has. Some have questioned whether or not Martinet would be up to the task of properly voicing Mario in a feature-length film. To me, it isn’t a question at all—I have no doubt that Martinet would have been able to do the part with ease. Sadly, we’ll never get to see it now.

Hopefully the film will still be able to do the games justice and finally bring a properly realized version of Mario and friends to the silver screen. Put me on the record though as having zero enthusiasm for Seth Rogan playing, well, anything. Anyway, here’s hoping we get a look at the characters soon to help tide us over for what is going to be a very long wait until December 21, 2022.

2 Responses to “Bits & Bytes: Movies”

  • 1549 points
    penduin says...

    I was also disappointed that Martinet isn’t voicing the Mario brothers. The big-star names mean nothing to me, and I’m mildly annoyed by the current trend of famous screen actors doing what experienced voice actors might do better.

    However! There was a time when I thought the only acceptable voice for Mario was Captain Lou Albano. (Takes you back, eh?) As it turned out, I enjoyed Bob Hoskins in the role. When Mario 64 launched, I initially felt like Martinet’s high-pitched, entirely-void-of-gruffness performance was a bizarre direction! Before long, though, it felt all kinds of right, and by the time he thanked-a me so much for to play-ing his game-a, that was Mario’s voice in my heart.

    It never seems likely until it happens, but I must remain open to the possibility that hearing these performances might in fact fit the characters wonderfully, despite being very different from what I would have imagined.

  • 1288 points
    Robert Marrujo says...

    As much as I’m disappointed, I’m also hoping to be proven wrong. Heath Ledger ended up being the best Joker of all-time is how I’m hoping this turns out, lol.

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