Brand new Ronon's Reviewer Frank has decided to start with a bang by covering the 93's horrendous Super Mario Bros.
The Super Mario Bros. movie was described as a nightmare by many of the cast and crew members; Bob Hoskins himself was the victim of many on-set accidents and injuries, a couple that nearly killed him. Its critical reception was nothing short of appalling and was almost universally panned. In his 2007 autobiography, John Leguizamo said that to get through the shooting of this movie, both he and Hoskins were drinking between takes. For me, personally, it was one of the strangest and most confusing films I would ever watch as a child and is probably the first time I ever tasted true disappointment in something video game related.
Ten minutes into my recent viewing of the film, I took note from Leguizamo and began drinking to soothe my nerves. Whether you still enjoy the movie or not (I love to hate it), it is a terrible adaptation and at times is legitimately upsetting.
Where does one even begin dismantling this film? Maybe with the fact that this is more of a horrific re-imagining of Mario than an adaptation.
Whoever wrote the script (and re-wrote it, and re-wrote it some more) clearly wasn’t a fan of the series, or was otherwise blissfully unaware of the atrocities they were committing.
Let’s look at the games first: On the whole, with a few exceptions, the games were about Mario jumping from castle to castle across a fantastical land and saving people.
Sometimes it was Princess Toadstool, sometimes it was Toad Kings, and sometimes Doki-Doki Panic got re-skinned and rewritten as one of Mario’s dreams like some kind of plagiarism inception.
Seven Mario games had been released by the movie’s premier in ‘93, which establishes a pretty decent canon for the scriptwriters to work from. The premise was there, the ingredients were served up on a silver platter, all that was left was to find a cohesive way to deliver it as a film.
The final script for Super Mario Bros. outright ignored or warped so much of what the Mario games were that the resulting film adaptation barely resembles its source material. The series canon wasn’t so much approached as it was drenched in acid, the left-over festering chunks being incorporated into a director’s demented fever dream.
The Mushroom Kingdom is now a parallel dimension called Dinohattan, the dinosaurs are now humanoids that are more human than dinosaurs, and King Koopa is very un-lizard-like Dennis Hopper. Dinohattan looks as though it was constructed from rejected Mad Max sets; no green hills or fluffy clouds just an expansive urban dystopia that hardly resembled the Mario world players knew.
This was supposed to be a family film, based on one of the most family-friendly games of all time, and the Goombas look flat out frightening. They couldn’t even get basic details right, like the fact that Mario and Luigi wear the wrong colours for nearly half the film, with Mario in green and Luigi in red.
And why choose Princess Daisy over Toadstool/ Peach? Daisy only appeared in but one of the games before the movie, and it was the Gameboy version.
If you were to disregard entirely the fact that it’s based on a pre-existing story and take it on its own merits, it’s still not even a good movie. Characters say and do stuff for no explicit or implied reason, the dialogue feels disjointed as though sentences have just been randomly inserted into the original script.
The audience is assaulted with scene after scene of chaotic nonsense and every now and again a curve ball is thrown by some downright disturbing occurrences. It can’t be said that the actors didn’t play their characters well for what they were given, just that those characters are poorly written at best and potential sex offenders at worst.
Koopa gets awkwardly and scarily rapey around Princess Daisy the first time they’re alone, and at one point Fiona “Aunt Petunia Dursley” Shaw stabs Yoshi in the arm. I’m not kidding, that actually happens.
Despite its objective awfulness, the film has gained a cult following and one of the writers even penned a sequel in the form of an online comic, which... Isn’t terrible. It carries the spirit of the movie and still maintains the quirk and “charm” of the characters as they were portrayed (You can check it out here if you like).
Weirdly, the animation of Mario and Luigi passing into the alternate dimension for the first time bears a striking resemblance to the Super Mario 64 portrait portals. The wall rippling like a viscous puddle looks almost exactly the same as the kind you see when Mario launches himself into the paintings around Peach’s castle. Maybe it wasn’t all bad, and Nintendo found inspiration in this train wreck of a film?
I found a hangover and renewed childhood trauma.