The Super Mario Bros. (1993)Around the late 80s and early 90s, Hollywood started to see the… More Around the late 80s and early 90s, Hollywood started to see the potential in video games, so they started off with arguably the most popular game out there, which was Super Mario Bros., and so it was that the adaptation of the beloved Nintendo game was the first major video game movie produced by Hollywood. The film had a pretty big budget of $48 million at the time, and was being heavily advertised, even in the video game magazine Nintendo Power, unfortunately, once the film was released, it received negative reviews from critics, and managed to disappoint fans of the video games, and thus, Super Mario Bros. Bombed at the box-office, thus, sadly, setting the standard for the majority of video game movies to come (despite a few good or decent ones here and there). However, despite the extremely cold reception the film received upon release, the film has had somewhat of a cult following from people who either love it, or consider it to be a guilty pleasure. Is this film the disgrace fans of the games and critics pointed it out to be, or is it truly an underrated film worthy of the cult favorite status it holds? My answer is...it's sort of stuck in between those two honors, I'll explain... The plot of the film centers around Mario Mario (played by Bob Hoskins) and Luigi Mario (played by John Leguizamo), two plumbers from Brooklyn who end up in an alternated dimension, where humans evolve from dinosaurs as opposed to mammals. They have to rescue a princess named Daisy (played by Samantha Mathis) from an evil lizard king named Koopa (played by Dennis Hopper), who plans to use Daisy to merge this dimension with ours by using a fragment of a meteorite that hit the Earth 65 million years ago. The biggest challenge filmmakers faced was trying to create a coherent plot and visual style that successfully emulates the video game into live-action, and as you can tell, they didn't really succeed in doing so. It does contain the basic premise of two plumbers attempting to rescue a princess from a lizard king,but the setting of the film was changed from the colorful, happy Mushroom Kingdom (as seen in the video games) to a dark, dystopian world which many viewers consider similar to Blade Runner, this was one of the primary reasons why Mario fans dismissed the film. In all fairness, the video game itself seems like a tough contender to adapt into live-action film, while they are linear in substance, the visual style, tone and elements of the games are rather strange for live-action, and seem better suited for an animated film, which is what they should have gone with in the first place. The visual design, while not really something that feels looks nor feels like Super Mario Bros., is actually rather impressive, you can tell they spent the $48 million on the screen, however, this is more of a mixed result when it comes to the special FX. The animatronics and makeup (including the Goombas and Yoshi) look pretty good, but some of the blue-screen and computer FX aren't the most impressive, despite being cleverly used in certain areas. Apparently, the original script was more in line of what you'd expect from a film based on Super Mario Bros., but once husband-wife directing team Rocky Morton and Annabel Jenkel (whom created the Max Headroom series) were hired to direct, the film was changed to a more darker film. The production faced many problems since day 1, including this directing team treating crew members like shit, they then were booted off the set, and replaced by an uncredited Roland Joffe. Another major issue with the film is that it tries to please both kids and adults, yet, it fails to captivate both target demographics. The script is absolutely weak, despite the concept of humans evolving from dinosaurs actually being interesting. The one thing I do like about this film, besides the impressive production values, is the camaraderie between Bob Hoskins as Mario and John Leguizamo as Luigi. While it's rather odd to see them as brothers (especially since John Leguizamo is too young to be convincing as Bob Hoskins' brother, though this is rectified since Mario is supposed to be the older one, and the father figure of the two), there scenes together are admittedly fun to watch. The saddest part about this is that since the set was chaotic, both Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo had to get severely drunk in order to make it through the filming process, Bob Hoskins would later go on record by saying that starring in Super Mario Bros. Was the worst thing he had ever done, and that the making of the film was "a fucking nightmare". During the 20th anniversary of the film, John Leguizamo recorded a video on YouTube expressing that he enjoyed making the movie, despite claiming in his autobiography that he didn't like it. Apart from Hoskins and Leguizamo, most of the cast is more-so a mixed bag. Dennis Hopper (RIP) gives an extremely hammy performance as Koopa, and doesn't resemble the original character (known as Bowser in the American versions of the games) the least bit. Not many of the cast stand out due to the weak script and characterizations. The dialogue is a mixture of both cringe-worthy and hilarious, which does at least give somewhat of an entertainment value to the film. Super Mario Bros. May not be a good film or adaptation by any means, but I can at least give the film credit for trying to make a video game movie work, though this wasn't accomplished until the release of Mortal Kombat (which I still consider to be one of the better video game to film conversions). As far as movies based on video games go, there are certainly worse (Street Fighter and Alone in the Dark, especially). PROS: Great set designs, and cinematography, decent special FX, nice moments with Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as Mario and Luigi, the idea of humans evolving from dinosaurs, the soundtrack and score. CONS: The poor script, Dennis Hopper hamming it up as Koopa (though it's not his fault, and he's still a good actor, RIP), weak supporting characters, not really an accurate representation of the Mario games, and it should have been animated. MIXED: Dialogue being so cringe-worthy and laughable at the same time, some of the acting really is a mixed bag.
26 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes