It may surprise you, that as a child I actually enjoyed the ‘Super Mario Bros.’ movie. But as I grew older and wiser, I started to see that it wasn’t as great as I originally thought. Video games have rarely, if ever, had a smooth transition into movie form; such a strange fact given many video games has great characters and solid storylines to work from. The video game, if you are one of those who never cared for such things, is about Mario and Luigi, two brothers who are plumbers. Together they must rescue Princess Peach from various castles, guarded by an assortment of henchmen, the most prolific of which are called Goombas. The main villain in the game is the evil King Koopa. That alone can be the skeleton of a good movie right there. While I watched this movie, I considered it from two very different aspects; the first as a movie inspired by the video game and secondly as a lower-budget, stand-alone, science fiction film from the early 1990’s.
From the video game inspired aspect, there is plenty to dislike about this movie. The most heinous movie crime has to be the butchering of beloved characters Toad, Princess Peach aka “Daisy”, and Luigi. However, we also must note that large portions of this script are ghastly. Even when the movie does things right, the script keeps it from flying too high. John Leguizamo as Luigi is reprehensible; almost every line he has in the movie is a bad joke. I understand that Luigi is somewhat a secondary player or sidekick to Mario, but it doesn’t need to be so obvious in the movie. The writing tries to add humour to the script, but much of the time it is irritating. I’m not saying you remove all humor from a movie about a video game, but there are times you can be funny and times you can be serious. Also, look at Bob Hoskins and Leguizamo side by side. Is there any part of you that honestly believes they could be brothers?
I understand that this movie had a smaller budget than both ‘Jurassic Park’ ($63 million) and ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’ ($102 million), but the $48 million given to the ‘Super Mario Bros.’ project seemed misused to say the least. At times the graphics were quite solid and other times, particularly at the end, where they were downright awful. What really makes the movie dire in this sense though, is that even the minor details from the video game have been mutated. There is so much I could say about that, but I’d hate to give away the entire movie for those of you growing curious. From the aspect of this movie being the adaptation of a video game, this is arguably one of the worst films of all time. It ruins popular, key characters, adds useless new ones and becomes a jumbled mess of ideas that very loosely adhere to the video game blueprint.
It can be difficult to find things to talk about on the positive side. However, if we remove the expectations that come with a ‘Super Mario Bros.’ movie, there are parts of this experience that are enjoyable and in fact, rather good. The idea that there is a portal to another dimension beneath the streets of New York City is rather cool. Then you have this alternate version of evolution; a whole new species, culture, and world are presented in great detail. The movie does get the basic facts correct. The malevolent King Koopa does capture the damsel in distress and stashes her away in his confines, leaving Mario and Luigi to team up and save her and stop Koopa from carrying out his evil plans. The Goombas are henchmen to Koopa and from a purely science fiction aspect, their creation is unique and interesting, and their overall look is quite cool. Dennis Hopper and Bob Hoskins were great casting choices in my opinion, and despite a lackluster script, they brought a certain degree of integrity to the proceedings, with Hoskins in particular being the perfect choice to play Mario as far as physical look.
In all, as a video game turned movie, ‘Super Mario Bros.’ is dreadful; the script is deplorable and filled with plot holes and overbearing humour. What they did to key characters in the franchise is unforgivable. However, the movie does get some of the basic components of the video game right and whilst the casting choices were hit-and-miss, Hoskins and Hopper did the best with the material provided. Furthermore, as a sci-fi film, the dino-world that is created in this movie is original and unique. It has remarkable detail, and plenty of cool special effects and costume design. If you cannot get over the Super Mario influence in the movie – and that can be difficult – this movie is utter garbage. However, if you can accept the flaws and look at the positives on a sci-fi note, then you may wind up having some fun with this movie.
DIRECTOR(S): ANNABEL JANKEL, ROCKY MORTON
STARRING: BOB HOSKINS, JOHN LEGUIZAMO, DENNIS HOPPER, SAMANTHA MATHIS