A long long time ago the earth was ruled by dinosaurs. They were big so not a lot of people went around hassling them. Actually no people went around hassling them because there weren’t any people yet just the first tiny mammals. Basically life was good. Then something happened. A giant meteorite struck the earth. Goodbye Dinosaurs! But what if the Dinosaurs weren’t all destroyed? What if the impact of that meteorite created a parallel dimension where the dinosaurs continued and evolved into intelligent vicious aggressive beings….just like us? And hey what if they found a way back?!
If you haven’t checked my blog title you might wonder. If you haven’t seen this movie or been oblivious to it you might still surprise you that these are the first words uttered in the movie that is called Super Mario Bros. This movie is something I owned on VHS back when I was just a tiny Pinkie. For those who do not know what VHS is.. back in the pre-internet age movies did not stream on network but were pressed onto disk or even earlier trapped into a cassette with small versions of movie reels contained inside them! It was magical! Even back then I was surprised. I personally would have never imagined to set a Mario movie in a sci-fi cyberpunk dystopian alternate dimension ruled by Fungi and Dinosaurs. Director Rocky Morton, his former wife Annabel Jankel and their writing staff clearly had a bigger imagination than me.. and you know me I am a weirdo!
Now I called Dragonball Evolution one of the most unfaithful movies ever but this one takes the crown. Yet where I really suffered through DBE this one has long since became a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine. I would have placed it in my Pinkie’s Guilty Movie pleasures list, but I decided to review video game movies for the next few Mondays to come and let’s while plenty of them go under that category , I doubt I can say I had pleasure when I get to the Uwe Boll movies. In fact I should spread those around a bit because otherwise I will suffer too much in a row. Anyway after that note to myself, i’ll have to admit I kind of had fun watching the Super Mario Bros movie again. Somewhere in the same vein as I would find it fun to see aliens land on earth or look at Honey Boo Boo or some weird Dutch Bed and Breakfast owner talking about wines. I don’t want to watch it all the times but sometimes it can be fun!
So for those who do not know the plot of the super Mario film, here you go. A dinosaur queen traveling dimensions places a capsules in front of a monastery. In this capsule are an egg and a meteorite shard. From this egg hatches Daisy, who twenty years later has become an archaeologist. A mean construction mogul named Scapelli tries to sabotage her dig-site and unknowingly opens the breach between the dinosaur dimensions and ours again. King Koopa has usurped the other dimension by turning their former king into Fungus and their world has falling into disarray, lacking enough resources to continue on. If he can insert the Meteorite piece into his worlds side of the meteor.. both the worlds can merge together and dinosaur can feast and rule over mankind. Daisy being of the true royal line is the only one who can actually insert the meteor without being killed so he needs her as well. So he sends cousin Iggy and Spike ..to capture her as she holds the meteor as well. Daisy and Luigi started to date in the real world.. and when the plumbers use their skill to save daisies dig-site.. she gets captured and Mario and Luigi have to venture into the world of the dinosaurs to save Luigi’s date.
Now you might notice there already are a few differences between this and the source material. First of all it’s Daisy who is front and center in this adventure and not Peach.. who in fact is never mentioned in the movie at all. Princess Daisy is actually the ruler of Sarasaland not the Mushroom Kingdom.. while the name is not officially coined for the Dinosaur World.. King Koopa (back before he was Bowser) teasingly refers to it as such. Mario is Luigi’s guardian, while he is clearly of a fatherly age he decided to call Luigi his brother. Luigi is actually the main hero in this one and he actually gets more than a cake at the end.. though not by much. Koopa normally isn’t really a dinosaur nor is the rest of the Mushroom Kingdom… but hey! It’s kind of a fun story, it’s just weird Mario and Luigi are in it.
The whole rescue the princess stick is in the movie and that is the main thing a Mario game is about and at least it wasn’t all just a dream, just a stage play nor had little mushroom men been transformed into blocks that Mario then murders to get some coins. It doesn’t make a LOT more sense than the NES Mario games but at least it somewhat follows a classical three act structure. We get two people growing closer, one of those being kidnapped and them two brothers trying to save one guys gal… and discovering the other guys gal is also here. Did you know Mario is into WWF?! Well now you do! It’s like a Mario fever dream. You keep wanting to watch to see what else they turned into what. How this world is so not like Mario and puts mario names on thinks that are clearly NOT that same thing. Did you know what if you paint your SNES Super Scope Grey it can evolve people! Heh! Monkey! Did you know that Goombas are actually 2,5 meter tall muscled dinosaurs with a super tiny head. I always imagined they were like big heads on just feet! Did you know Toad actually was a Goomba?! Who would have imagined.. they look so differently in 8 bit.
It’s kind of like looking at a five year old (or younger) make a drawing for Santa than having you explain what they drew. See this is Mario.. and this is a goomba.. and this is King Koopa and if I give this to santa he knows I’ll want the Mario game. They are about equally recognisable and it totally mesmerised me. It’s like making a Final Fantasy VII movie and recast Red as a Kitsune girl.. and giving Cloud a dagger instead of a sword.. but it can grow to any size he wants. Materia would be food that the evil demon Sephiroth would need to eat to summon an ancient demon to earth trapped in a meteor. It would not be right but it would be fascinating in it’s own right! Still that would be only fun once, at least it should yet this movie I’ve seen a handful of times now and I still find it fun. While they do deviate so massively from the source material, unlike Dragonball Evolution , everything so packed full of character that it kinda works. Yamcha in the western movie for example is just a chad with a drill, while Toad here.. is a once rebellious man that sang songs putting Koopa in a bad daylight, that got devolved into a music loving good guy who just likes to smile and make people happy. Who even plays his harmonica when he is set on fire.
Koopa has now become a weird sort of germaphobe that loves Pizza and is fascinated yet disgusted by the fact that humans evolved from Monkies. He in fact is so obsessed with evolution that he weaponised it and used it as a key to his rule. He stems from the king of dinosaurs so he feels like he is destined to rule as well. Nothing of it is like the Koopa/Bowser we know but yet again .. there is still a lot of character there. Even Big Bertha .. who is just a fish that eats a lot , in the games here has been given a character. I’m pretty sure that Miyamoto never imagined her as some Sassy Big Boned Sugar Mamma with a though exterior but big heart.. but thats in this movie. All characters do at least get loads and loads of flavor. It’s a bunch of cliches mashed up yet at the same time it’s something we do not get nowadays anymore. Characters Alla 2020 veer away from stereo types, they all get some depth and some realism, yet at the same time that also means they become much more interchangeable. Here every character is so extreme and tacky that said personality on another character in the movie would barely work. It doesn’t become a better movie for it but it certainly becomes more watchable for it and re-watchable even. There are so many visual gags , tiny nods and extreme oddities in the world building that even on my fifth romp I notice new things. Like how Bullet Bill’s are now Pneumatic cartridges for power boots?!
Not just from a writing perspective the movie has its flaws, the acting is also odd. The direction is odd. For example at one point King Koopa goes to the real world with his army of Goombas.. an army of 2,5 meter monsters with guns and flamethrowers.. that actually throw fireballs. Yet he also has devolution guns on his person which he tries to use on Mario to turn him into a monkey. He then hits the construction Mogul instead. You’d think people would be terrified that a guy with a monster army just killed a man and changed him into a monkey .. but no everyone laughs. Not only the humans whose world is being invaded by their very own eyes but the bad guys as well. They stop their actions to laugh at the monkey and the camera painfully lingers on this.. like it’s some sort of briljant gag. Why ? How?
Somewhere in the middle of the movie we suddenly see Dennis Hopper/ Koopa order a Pizza.. out of the blue.. there is a chase scene going on.. big set up.. and we get a 30 second scene where he calls for pizza. It was never established he is hungry or that he thinks so lowly of his opponents that he can coast it.. no at their most dangerous.. he just orders a pizza. The way it is acted is almost as if a stand up comedian is making a joke.. with the punchline being weird pizza toppings people would add in a dinosaur world. It isn’t funny yet there is room in the delivery as if they are waiting for people to clap and laugh at the joke.. it’s so weird.
Then there is a scene where Luigi played by John Leguizamo , while desperately trying to save the princess, decides to prank Mario, saying he can make some sort of impossible jump but actually he is connected to some sort of hook and crane, which at first seem impossible. Egging Mario on to jump as well.. which leads to Mario jumping to his death. Only when Mario begins jumping he yells.. no no it’s a joke but of course by then it’s to late. Why would anyone do that?! I mean of course it’s a joke about the brothers amazing jumping ability but they use power boots for that already. so even from a homage stand this made zero sense. He tricks his brother to jump to his death with a smile on his face and Immediately is snapped out of his trauma of seeing his brother fall to his death when Princess Daisy’s father becomes a membrane trampoline that saves Mario… grabbing him in split seconds. These characters are so incohesive and the acting also reflects that.. this is a sloppily written and acted out garbled mass of events to enter some comedy or drama at random times.
Yet in a way that is also the saving grace of this movie. You never know exactly what’s going to happen because it’s all so stupid and random. A bomb-omb suddenly obtains the power to break physics, characters suddenly fade out of existence, rules of the world do not always work the same. Throughout the entire movie.. even four or five views in I still have that “what the f is going on” vibe going..Which would be a good tagline for this movie?! Super Mario Bros. The movie “What the F is going on?” Like a caleidoscope it feels random but it keeps me fascinated even if there isn’t that much to it. Empty and broken yet at the same time colourful and trippy.
Dennis Hopper doesn’t portray a great Koopa, but he certainly plays a memorable one! Monkey! Is still one of the things he will be remembered for. Bob Hoskins is an odd Mario ..who lacks that Santa Claus vibe, the original Mario has.. and replaces it with Brooklyn brash. Yet when we hear the name we do remember him as Mario still. John Leguizamo , mostly in his early years like this, main trait in acting is… “well I guess they chose him for this part.. how odd” and i’ll probably forget he was Luigi again..but that means I can watch this movie in the future and be right “that’s right.. that guy was Luigi! Such an odd choice” From costume design to actors, to story to screen structure and even in music.. this flick makes almost zero logical choices considering the material.. For example let me put the music choice that is present through most of the movie! The music theme they choose to represent the Mario Bros and use trough most chase scenes! Which is most of the movie… you expect some iconic movie.. you get :
We get one of the weirdest , most 90’s action comedies based on a great IP that is to this day still a mystery to me. Not a single element is great.. most of them aren’t even good. Yet when combined they do give me a great time when watching it. It might not be for the right reasons it might not last long but a movie length of giggling face palms and me ooh’s and huh’s are definitely not the worst way I spend my time. In that way I do think this movie is kind of underrated. Yes if you break it down this movie offers next to nothing.. only a good time if you can turn of your brain for a bit .. or just let it race….. and isn’t that the most important thing a movie should offer us?! A fun runtime?! Would I watch it again?! Give me a few months and I would say Let’sa Go!
Next week we will probably end up with a more faithful movie adaptation! A simple Zombie Shooting Game, should be easy enough to adapt to the big screen right?! Join me next week as I watch Uwe Boll’s House of the Dead! That seems like an easy job to make cool right?!