7/14/17

SUPER MARIO BROS. - REVIEW


Once upon a time, Hollywood studios made an attempt at bringing Nintendo's most iconic video game character to life in live-action form. Super Mario Bros. starred Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as Mario and Luigi respectively and it was a commercial and critical failure.

Adapting a game franchise as surreal as Super Mario Bros. was always going to be a challenge, especially for a Hollywood studio in the early 90's. So, instead of attempting to recreate the colourful, imaginative world depicted in the games, the directors decided to ground the characters in a more realistic, yet still bizarre, setting. The plot, which sees the two plumbers having to cross over to another dimension in order to rescue a princess, is relatively simple with Dennis Hopper's evil reptilian dictator King Koopa looking to open up a portal that would allow him to rule both his dimension and ours being the main challenge for our heroes. Not translating the games directly for the big screen was a mistake as many fans expected a more faithful adaptation but some imagination did go into turning an incongruous 8-bit world into something more tangible, at least. The result was a futuristic metropolis not unlike Mega-City One in Judge Dredd with a dinosaur theme.

The look of the film is dark and moody but its tone is completely childish with an awful whimsical score "goofing-up" the entire thing and a script packed with silly lines and puns. You can tell there was a cool sci-fi film in there somewhere but certainly not anything to do with Super Mario Bros. The cast feels mostly confused about what they're meant to be doing or saying with Dennis Hopper giving arguably his most quotably (and enjoyably) ridiculous performance, Bob Hoskins trying his most cartoonish New York accent, John Leguizamo struggling with some of the worst lines in the script and everyone else either over-acting like hell or under-acting. Countless references to the games are slipped in (Bob-ombs, Big Bertha, Yoshi, Toad) without much rhyme or reason. This is an expensive mess of a project you can tell was misguided from the start with conflicting visions troubling the production, no clear tone throughout and little understanding of the source material.

A Super Mario Bros. live-action film could have been a lot of fun and, for the most part, this attempt is entertaining even if it is destined for cult enjoyment. It's a chaotic, confused film but it's an easy watch with enough charm and action to keep especially younger viewers amused.

Guilty pleasure.

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