There are plenty of good reasons why films adapted from video games are often viewed with skepticism, and the 1993 Super Mario Bros. The film is one of the first and best examples. The movie was a flop at the time, losing millions and ensuring Nintendo would abandon the idea for at least a decade, but it did manage to get some important details. Its legacy lives on with cult movie status and a devoted fan following in the present day.
Doing the same thing and expecting a different result seems to be the thing in big-budget Hollywood productions these days, and it looks like Nintendo is jumping on the bandwagon with a remake slated for release in 2023. Hopefully this new version will be able to fix the mistakes of the 1993 attempt and remember the things they did right, even if they weren’t enough to save the movie.
7/7 The first video game-movie adaptation
Revenue from console sales made it an idea whose time had come, and while box office returns and critical reviews were miserable, future attempts to bring video games to the screen were inevitable. It did more for the hyperrealistic genre and the combination of fantasy and horror than it did for video game adaptations.
Modern attempts likeHaloseem to be getting decent initial reception on streaming services before they fizzle out, but so far the anime has a better adaptation track record. The upcoming film seems to have learned its lesson in this regard, relying on animation and fantasy as opposed to a real-life or sci-fi based setting.
6/7 The casting
Dennis Hopper as the understated but menacing Bowser was perfect, Bob Hoskins plays a believable real Mario, and then this movie gave us the career of John Leguizamo. All of the above makes this movie worth watching, even if it was an embarrassing mess in every other way.
The majority of criticism of the film in the 1990s was for the script and editing, citing a messy plot and choppy pacing, not to mention tonal issues. It was trying to be a movie that would make sense to adults but also be fun for kids playing the games, and the result was that it didn’t make sense to anyone.
5/7 The effects are mostly real
This was a time when CGI was in its infancy and special effects were mostly clay and miniatures, meaning what viewers see on screen is almost entirely practical effects. Super Mario Bros. was one of the last films to use it almost exclusively.
Sometimes it looks great, like using an actual physical puppet for Yoshi as opposed to a cartoon one, but it’s difficult for actors when the same rule is applied to riskier scenes on set or when realism is shattered by something that looks too much like a Halloween costume. mortal combatanother infamous live-action video game adaptation, wasn’t made until two years later and uses CGI animation as much as possible to avoid this same pitfall.
4/7 Filled in tradition
This video game is about plumbers fighting amphibious animals, so why not? The explanation of dinosaurs secretly surviving and evolving into an intelligent species isn’t even that silly. Voyager stole that idea years later for one of its most iconic episodes, “Distant Origin.”
Not all video games need a backstory, and the early days of side-scrollers didn’t have much to offer in terms of lore or character development, but that’s not the case. the same for a movie. The characters need some kind of stakes or motives, but there’s also the matter of combining that with a believable explanation of why there would be a race of humanoid dinosaurs beneath a modern city.
3/7 Fan service
There are plenty of Easter eggs scattered throughout the film that only players would recognize, from iconic outfits to references to reptiles. Fan reaction to them has fluctuated between appreciative and hostile, though it’s fun to find them no matter what the viewer thinks of how they’ve been used.
Their surname Mario, for example, which makes them the “Mario Bros.”, didn’t land as a joke or even a full sentence. One working example, however, is when Luigi accidentally walks through a wall to find Mario on the other side, an allusion to Warp Zones or secret places in the game where players can walk through the wall.
It’s not just the licensed pop music, which includes tracks from Queen and Megadeath, but also the original score composed by Alan Silvestri. The latter is only available in unauthorized copies and was never included in the retail soundtrack.
The songs from the soundtrack are part of what makes the film a cult classic. The early 1990s didn’t always sound good, but Roxette’s tracks along with the single “Rock The Dinosaur” at least made it fun.
1/7 A post-credits scene
They are not the same as bloopers or edited images. A post-credit scene refers to a short snippet, often only a few seconds long, that follows the credits and may make inside jokes, hints at upcoming movies, or obscure references. They’re all the rage in movies today, popularized by Marvel, who used them in every episode to keep fans in their place until the house lights came on.
The cutscene at the end of Super Mario Bros. consisted of two Japanese executives who came up with a video game idea, but not Mario and Luigi. Instead, they want to make a video game about Koopa’s minions, Iggy, and Spike.
MORE: The Super Mario Bros Movie: Things You Missed In The Trailer