Movies based off videogames, like anything else, are interesting conceptually, but at least 90% of the time, the execution of such things results in puke-inducing disaster. This movie is no exception, and in fact, is among the absolute worst out there. What's even weirder is that I first saw this movie on cable TV back around 1994 and despite being much younger and therefore much easier to please, I still found the movie to be a wretched experience because at that age, I couldn't stand it for the fact that the movie had practically nothing in common with the classic Mario games I played like mad back then. I now hate it because the acting was awful, the story was nonexistent at best, the visuals were awful, and the comedy was painful, not to mention that it has virtually nothing in common with the classic games. The only good thing I can say is that I watched this for free on YouTube, so at least I won in the fiscal department.
When the giant asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, not all of them were wiped out, and as the millions and millions of years passed, dinosaurs continued to evolve in a dimension parallel to ours and have found a gateway to the human-dominated dimension in Brooklyn circa 1993. The Mario brothers (Bob Hoskins as Mario and John Leguizamo as Luigi) find themselves going after King Koopa (Dennis Hopper) and his reptilian minions to save an archaeologist named Daisy from their diabolical scheme to unite the two dimensions and de-evolve all the humans.
NO RELATION TO THE SOURCE MATERIAL
I have nothing against film-makers changing the source material for a TV or movie version so long as the end products are well made and memorable, examples such as Stanley Kubrick's version of The Shining, Tim Burton's Batman movies, and the ABC Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon series (dubbed “SatAM” by fans) based off the other iconic videogame series. All of which are pretty different from the source material, but the people who made them made interesting characters, well-developed story lines, and well-developed themes that make them worthwhile. Super Mario Bros., on the other hand, not only has nothing in common with the Mario games, but the film-makers' spin on the Mario universe is totally appalling on just about every level, which I'll get into greater detail in the following categories. In fact, the only things I noticed it had in common with the original game is that the very beginning had the music from the first game, and that there was one scene with the “rocket-boots” that made the noise of Mario getting hit by an enemy.
You'd think that with acclaimed actors like Bob Hoskins and Dennis Hopper at the helm, the acting would at least be decent, right? Wrong!! Given that Hoskins had practically nothing to work with, it almost seems like the people who made this movie just expected him to recycle his acting style from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, except while Hoskins was in top form in that movie (and WFRR remains a classic from my childhood), you can sense the boredom in Hoskins' face, even in the more “dramatic” moments just because he has no interest in the movie (you can't really blame him). If you thought Hopper was really hammy in Waterworld, you'll be thinking he was in top form in that movie compared to what he did for this. I don't like quoting other reviewers, but the Nostalgia Critic said it best when he said Koops is like a cross between Donald Trump and Dr. Evil, and he's so lame that he's even worse than the Strangers in Dark City. He's not even fit for scaring little kids at a Halloween night in the local elementary school's gymnasium. All he does is throw around lame, humorless lines and his main method of “control” is arresting subversive citizens and de-evolving them into pin-headed reptilian soldiers called Goombas, which look nothing like the Goombas featured in the games. What's even worse is that Hopper tries to sound “reptilian” on occasion by making goofy animal noises at the end of his dialogue, and his over-the-top attitude makes him a joke. His only line that squeezed a laugh out of me was when he he briefly made it to the human dimension and de-evolved Mario's main competitor in the plumbing business (Scapelli, I believe), he points to the de-evolved creature and says “Monkey!” at him, and that's only funny for how stupid it is.
For a movie costing $48 million back in 1993 (which was bigger bucks back then), it looks more like a low-budget release from an unknown film studio. The animation of the dinosaurs at the beginning of the movie is some of the absolute wost animation and artwork I've ever seen for a movie with this type of price tag attached to it. The movements are very chunky and the drawings look very bland. The very first South Park animation created in 1992 had better production quality, and that was a project Matt Stone and Trey Parker did in college!! For a parallel universe with humans evolved from dinosaurs instead of apes, most of them look no different from normal humans, other than one woman with a bunch of weird green stuff on her face fighting a mugger trying to steel her unhatched egg in her stroller, and Koopa's goofy hair that look like bone-like ridges on his head. Right there, there was no effort with creating reptilian creatures in this universe, and what did they do to poor little Yoshi?!! He looks NOTHING like his original incarnation in Super Mario World, and even though they tried to make him look “cuter” than the other reptiles infesting this flick, he looks like a creepy dinosaur that was poorly transitioned into something more “kid-friendly.” The Ba-Bombs featured in this movie look like toys that came with your daughter's Happy Meal, and unlike the ones featured in the games, the Ba-Bomb Mario used to blow up Koopa takes an eternity to explode, despite the really short fuse on the thing. Those police cars used by Koopa's law enforcement look like cheap mutations out of a bad chop shop in the middle of Gary, Indiana, and given how there's been movies out there with excellent-looking vehicles made by prop designers that came with smaller price tags (such as Aliens and District 9), I expected the prop makers to put more effort in making better cars. The other props in this movie like the guns and rocket-boots, look like toys that were product placements for a cheesy cyberpunk cartoon from the time period this movie came from.
The humor in this is some of the tackiest I've ever had to face in a movie like this. All the humor really consists of is bad one-liners (and not the charming ones that Arnold Schwarzenegger can dish out in his prime), and a lame running gag about Koopa ordering a pizza. The one-liners that I can recall that were really abysmal is this one joke when Mario says to Luigi “We're not in Manhattan anymore!” and of Koopa's wife getting electrocuted and gets smashed into a rock wall towards the end and Luigi says to Daisy “She sure leaves an impression!” There were three writers for this movie, and not one of them could come up with any decent humor?!! There's a gag with Luigi fooling the Goombas into dancing with elevator music, and apparently this is supposed to be funny, it isn't. Also, why would Koopa order a pizza in the middle of a military operation to invade another dimension, and him calling his assistants about his pizza isn't funny, at all.
If you've had the luxury of missing this abomination, don't take that luxury for granted, as this truly is among the most awful of videogame-to-movie creations ever. If you want smooth transitions from videogames to motion pictures (TV and movies), go check out Dead Space: Downfall and Dead Space: Aftermath. If you're a parent and want something more appropriate for your kids (or if you're not a fan of gory violence), go watch the Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon series (aka SatAM). If you ABSOLUTELY have to see Mario in a motion picture, go find the Mario anime from 1986 on YouTube, as that's at least faithful to the game (if quite disappointing at the end, and a really weird anime to begin with).
Bob Hoskins rightfully considers this the worst movie he acted for in his career, and I wouldn't be surprised if Dennis Hopper had similar sentiments before he died last year. Avoid this movie like an outbreak of rats infected with the plague.
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