Saturday, August 11, 2012

Super Mario Bros. (Film) - A Major Bob-omb

Nintendo is perhaps one of the biggest names in the video game industry, alongside Sony, Microsoft, and others of their ilk. And when you think of Nintendo, chances are the first thing you think of is Mario (or Zelda). The plumber was first introduced in the early 80's, his popularity turning his franchise into the unstoppable gaming juggernaut it is today, each game having various degrees of success. The one game that is probably in the library of most NES owners, however, is Super Mario Bros., released in 1985. The game has remained a popular favorite to this day, and in 1993, a movie adaptation was released by Hollywood Pictures. Like another movie, however, this is one that I have heard bad things about to where I felt like I had to see it for myself, except this time I went in with some knowledge of and experience with the game on which it is based.

Mario Brothers Plumbing is a small business in New York, run by Italian-Americans Mario Mario (Bob Hoskins) and Luigi Mario (John Leguizamo), often competing with the much larger Scapelli Construction Company. After another failed attempt to beat Scapelli to a job, the Mario brothers' van breaks down. As Mario tries to fix it, Luigi meets a university student named Daisy (Samantha Mathis), who has been trying to excavate dinosaur fossils. At the same time, two idiots named Iggy (Fisher Stevens) and Spike (Richard Edson) have been tailing Daisy in an attempt to kidnap her. After a date with Daisy, Luigi is knocked out along with his brother Mario as they try to fix a major flooding problem, during which Daisy is taken by the aforementioned idiots. After recovering, the Mario brothers follow close behind and end up at a strange rock formation within a large pipe, which seems to act as a portal to another world. The brothers soon find themselves in a strange city covered in fungus run by Bowser King Koopa (Dennis Hopper) as they continue their quest to rescue Daisy.

Of course, the plot of this movie deviates from that of the game, which is to be expected, but at times it feels more like a completely different movie with Mario super-glued onto it. The concept of multiple dimensions is fine, as it gives the plot an excuse to shove in Mario references, but eventually it gets a little weird. You see, Koopa's plan is to kidnap Daisy in order to obtain a special rock around her neck that's actually the final piece of a meteor that made his dimension what it is which, when completed, will merge his dimension with ours so that he can become the ruler of both worlds, and Daisy is somehow the only one that can survive contact with the finished meteor along with anyone else she happens to be touching.

Since I bring up Mario references, this is something I need to expand upon. At many points throughout the movie, it feels like it's trying a little too hard to shove in things from the game, as if to try to remind you that that is what you are watching. For instance, Goombas and Yoshi make appearances, though the former does not resemble its game counterpart in any way and the latter only vaguely resembles his. To add to this King Koopa, like his Goomba minions, doesn't look like his namesake from the game (that is until very briefly at the final confrontation) and we never see the Mario brothers wearing anything like their iconic gear until about an hour into the movie. To give it credit though, some of the nods to the game are actually pretty clever. At one point we see the Banzai Bill enemy as an object used on special boots, as well as signs within the Koopa-run city for Thwomp and Hammer Brothers; you can also briefly see an electronic equivalent of the "?" box on a screen. Another clever one is Bob-omb, who is actually a plot point and appears as a small wind-up toy that explodes (and, alongside the Banzai Bill, it's the only thing that looks exactly like the game character).

As for the rest of the feature, I personally thought the acting was just okay. Throughout the story, the actors seem like they're at least trying to make something out of their parts, but nothing really stood out to me. On the same level, the music was also okay. Despite there being some big names attached to the soundtrack like Joe Satriani, Queen, and Megadeth, it's more likely that you will remember that Super Mario Bros. theme at the very beginning than anything else, if only because the movie itself is rather dull. On the other hand, the sets were actually pretty good and the special effects used were pretty decent for a movie from 1993. The visuals that were used make the setting somewhat believable, so I would give the film more technical credit than the acting.

My biggest complaint though has to go to the overall length and pacing of the product. Things often seem like they take forever to resolve and there seems to be a lot of padding. A case of this is an attempt at setting up a joke regarding King Koopa ordering a pizza, which goes absolutely nowhere. Scenes like this only serve to drag out the movie longer than necessary and made me more and more disinterested as it went on.

Overall, Super Mario Bros., like most video game movies out there, is not all that great to say the least, despite what the packaging may tell you. While the effects are good and some of the video game nods can be clever, the length and pacing of the movie makes for a rather boring experience. However, if you are looking for a bad movie that you can easily make fun of, give this movie a try. Otherwise, for hardcore Mario fans, a better experience is in another castle.

No comments:

Post a Comment