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“Trust the fungus”

Brooklyn, 65 million years ago. A meteor hits and creates a parallel dimension where dinosaurs evolved into their own society. Now, dictator of the dinosaur world, King Koopa (Dennis Hopper), while seeking out Princess Daisy (Samantha Mathis) comes face to face with Mario (Bob Hoskins) and Luigi (John Leguizamo) as these New York plumbers find themselves in this strange parallel land.

 Super Mario Bros.: The Movie
Super Mario Bros. is one of those films that makes the 90s look insane. It’s pretty obvious it only got made after the blow out success of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie a few years before and given the explosion of cross media franchises at the time, that suddenly had cartoons, comics and gaming all knocking out great uses of wacky characters, it was only a matter of time before Mario got his swing at the movie bat. I mean, it was a no brainer really given how big Nintendo and console gaming was at the time but with that said, it also shows how little the movie world knew about the gaming world because Super Mario Bros. really only shares the name of the king of all platform gaming titles.

I only saw Super Mario Bros. the once, at the cinema in 1993 and I came away from it unsure of what the hell I’d just seen. As time passed its world of dark tunnels, almost steampunk type technology and corrupt leaders has blended into the same movieverse as Stallone’s Judge Dredd, Pam's Barb Wire and the other Stallone future cop movie Demolition Man in my mind. From memory they are all this largely 90s feeling future, with odd machines and creatures, really confined set based productions with the same colouring of blue and metallic greys, filled out with colourful punks, too much cleavage on show and some sort of variation to a police car or two. Honestly my memories of all these movies cross over so much they may as well be an Avengers style franchise.

 Super Mario Bros.: The Movie
So going in to Super Mario Bros. all these years later was sort of exciting in a sadistic way and i had the added bonus of getting to unleash it’s epic failure on my kids (who love Mario games) and see how they react to a Mario movie they didn’t know existed.

So anyway, it still really sucks and has next to no redeemable features to it whatsoever. It’s such a dark film that pulls stuff like devolving people to ooze or mistreatment of citizens like a fun whimsical thing. Every character in it outside of maybe Mario, Luigi and Daisy are just awful and unlikable and while it’s argued on the extras that the Mario games have no plot, the plot used here is no excuse for that. I don’t know what the budget was here but sometimes it feels substantial only to follow with another scene that feels like it was made on a shoestring. This dystopian grimy horrible vision of Mario World is more like a child’s nightmare of where Mario might end up if he took the a really wrong pipe rather than a respectful use of all of the colourful characters and worlds from the game. Once again it seems like the movie industry took a beloved franchise and felt the only thing to do with it was to make it as dark and broody as humanly possibly, all while forgetting who the hell the audience might actually be.

I could sit here and list all of the things wrong with Super Mario Bros. all day long but I’ll just say, from a movie lover’s perspective, 21 years after he first saw the movie, Super Mario Bros. has gotten even worse than it ever was. Even though Hoskins and Leguizamo keep the core characters pretty light and enjoyable throughout it’s hard to believe this was sold as a kids film, given the boobs, gimp masks and aggressive nature of the film’s villains. Even the action set pieces are terrible and barely ever hit a level I would call fun. What's even harder to believe is Nintendo were so not bothered with how a movie studio handled their lead character while they remained focused on the gaming world. It’s quite insane just how wrong this film is.

 Super Mario Bros.: The Movie


The presentation here is very much in tune with how I remember the film looking. Very 90s, lots of browns and beiges in the first act of the film and then later way too dark for the, what should have been a kid friendly franchise, with lots of blues and blacks going on. Colours and lighting actually look pretty great and gives the film a much fresher look than I ever expected. Details and textures range from pretty impressive to a little soft but it all really depends on the quality of the lighting which in general is pretty well used in the film but some of the darker scenes do tend to get a little too grubby at times.

There a whole bunch of grain stopping the image from really showing off and edges are not consistently sharp but there’s no denying this is a big surprise in terms of looking pretty good considering the minimal love this film has. It’s largely down to most of the film being on a set and everyone sitting under strong lighting. The interrogation scene with Koopa and the Mario Bros. is particularly good for textures but generally speaking these show off moments are few and far between the usual good but not great looks the Blu-ray has.

 Super Mario Bros.: The Movie


The audio track here is very much confined to the front speakers. Dialogue is clear but timid and the wider elements of the track never reach far out of the centre really. The ill fitting score, which is usually much livelier and fun than the grimy nastiness we're seeing on screen is again quite restrained but clear and crisp for the most part. There’s an okay amount of bass boosting going on with most of the elements but really the entire 5.1 track is more like a good stereo track in terms of scale and it all sounds a bit flat and un-dynamic really.

 Super Mario Bros.: The Movie


‘This Ain’t No Video Game’ (55:48 HD) is actually a really lengthy well structured documentary. There’s talk of how the film got the okay from Nintendo, details of how the creators of Max Headroom got to make the film and a general sense they were all fairly happy with how they changed the original kid friendly screenplay, that would have suited an animated film, oblivious to the fact that that ditched screenplay sounded more akin to what you’d expect from a Super Mario Bros. feature. Despite being baffled with the best intentions by the makers of the film being so off target it’s always good to have such a good documentary to go with a much unloved film.

Next up is more archival type additions. The original ‘Making of’ (17:32 SD), the seizure inducing original Trailer, and old school EPK (30:05 SD) and some galleries.

 Super Mario Bros.: The Movie


Super Mario Bros. does absolutely nothing to celebrate the great gaming franchise. It felt insane back in the 90s and it feels even more insane now, given just how big the Mario franchise is and just how much it is loved for its bright glossy, fun, infinitely enjoyable playble stories (everything this film does not have). The Blu-ray actually winds up looking much better than I would have ever expected it to and even though it’s hardly a show off disc, it’s certainly got its highlights. The audio track is very tame but the extras hold a near hour long documentary that has the makers explaining their moves to make Super Mario Bros. this dark, grimy, horrid world because y’know they didn't want it too kid friendly (?). It’s a great watch, even if you’ll spend the whole thing yelling “What were you thinking??!!” at the screen.

* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray and have been resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking the individual images, but due to .jpg compression, they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.