Super Mario Bros.
It's safe to say that the 'Mario' game series was quite the addiction when I was a kid. We're talking between the original three, and 'Super Mario World' - after that, I had managed to pretty much drop it. However, I wasn't alone on my opinions at the time, so it was a good opportunity for Hollywood Pictures to cash in on the 'Super Mario Bros' name. The marketing seemed to work for me for some reason. In fact, to this day, I still remember being upset about not being able to see it one night. But even the misguided trailer caught my attention. Of course nowadays, it's hard to know what I was thinking other than "it's a Super Mario movie!"
But understand a few things about me at the time of this film's release. I was obsessed with the games, I saw the best in the worst movies (possibly due to childhood ignorance), and I was 10 going on 11. This wasn't really just a movie from my perspective - it was a life-changing event, as they were finally making video games into movies - a concept that still has yet to be perfected to this day. In fact, video game movies are a subgenre known to be so bad, that it's probably going to look like I've become a bitter asshole over the next couple of months as I dive into these (some, like this, being re-reviews).
With that said, however, rest assured that as usual, I will be reviewing these movies totally objectively. There's a lot of rough titles out there, but some of them, like this, have a sort of nostalgic value to them regardless of their quality. The value isn't necessarily in the film itself, but the memory of being that excited for a movie to be released. I even decidedly enjoyed it when I saw it in theaters. There was just that hint of "something's off" though. Upon watching it nowadays, I've come to terms with the fact that this film has very little to nothing to do with those favourite games of mine from my childhood. This was a project that went completely off the rails (look it up, it's crazy), and it shows just as much as my childhood ignorance did back in '93.
The film features Mario (Bob Hoskins) and Luigi (John Leguizamo); two (not) Italian plumbers, hailing from Brooklyn, New York. While on a job, they run into an archaeologist named Daisy (Samantha Mathis) who is currently uncovering a whole new species of dinosaur. Luigi falls for her, and things go pretty well, but she suddenly gets kidnapped by bumbling henchmen, Iggy (Fisher Stevens) and Spike (Richard Edson) and brought into a whole other dimension. Mario and Luigi follow, and the brothers soon find themselves in a very strange and violent alternate dimension where a guy named Koopa (Dennis Hopper) rules with an iron fist; he's the character who sent Iggy and Spike to kidnap Daisy.
Koopa's motive is a meteor piece that Daisy wears around her neck, which has the capability of merging his dimension with Earth's dimension. For a little more detailed quick background, Koopa is descended from the T-Rex, and this dimension's whole society is reptilian, left over from the dinosaur age and since evolved. So, Koopa's intention is to merge things and take it all over, as he has the technology to "de-evolve" the human race into the chimps we evolved from. How he's gonna do this to everyone without being stopped is anyone's guess, but yeah, he's your typical "take over the world" villain. But can the Mario Brothers stop him, rescue Daisy, and prevent this horrible world from spilling over into ours?
All in all, can we at least admit that the story itself isn't that big of a stretch? Koopa kidnaps a princess, we never really know why in the games, and Mario and Luigi set out to rescue her - face it, that IS the typical 'Mario' game. The pieces were actually there, but the execution of it all was so incredibly brutal for Mario fans that things really fell apart for it. The questions we had afterwards were abundant, and I could be here for ages dragging it all out, but some of the more popular questions had to do with the appearance of... basically everything. Koopa was pretty much human, the Goombas were big hulks instead of little minions, and the environment was an almost post-apocalyptic cityscape, which was never, ever a thing in the games leading up to the film.
On top of all of that, why were they saving the Princess from 'Mario Land' instead of Princess Toadstool (known nowadays as Peach)? Why are the kidnappers two of Koopa's cousins when their names are Iggy (a Koopa Kid or "Koopaling" in the games) and Spike (a pain in the ass common enemy of the Water and Ice Worlds of 'Mario 3')? Why did they make the whole realm a desert with a tiny city when these games had become known for a wide array of different environments? It goes on, and on, and on, and at the end of the day this was never really a 'Super Mario Bros' movie so much as something fun with the wrong name slapped on it, consisting of minor similarities and a few Easter eggs.
What was that I said? It was fun? How dare I give such a horrendous insult to what has become perhaps the most widely recognized video game franchise of all time! While it's by no means a great, or even good movie, and a lousy adaptation, it does, surprisingly squeeze itself into my list of guilty pleasures. It has become a film so fascinatingly unfaithful that I can't help but laugh all the way through it, and if I'm honest, enjoy myself. It's not a matter of it being a solid film so much as it being, despite everything wrong about it, a fun, albeit silly ride. Just try to avoid looking at this as an adaptation so much as its own thing... and even then, don't expect much more than ironic laughter... Pretty great soundtrack too.
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