Super Mario Bros: The Motion Picture Review

 Super Mario Bros Small

Words: Emmett Barlow
Twitter: @EmmettBarlow


We’ve all sat through the countless film adaptations of video games. Some hit the relative high notes, for me, Mortal Kombat, whilst others the bottom, Max Payne and the Resident Evil series being the main culprits. Yet there is hope for this genre. I doubt you’ll be able to find any cinephile or gamer who isn’t harbouring minor internal fireworks regarding Duncan Jones’ World of Warcraft film, or Shawn Levy’s Minecraft movie.

Locked within our crosshairs now is the sub-genre genesis; the first (fatal if you will) brushstroke of the tempered canvas of video game movies and a celebration of all things Italian, moustache-and-plumbing-related.

Released exclusively on Blu-ray by Second Sight is 1990’s Super Mario Bros starring Bob Hoskins as the very best mushroom munching tradesman in the business, alongside John Leguizamo as his formally 8-bit brother Luigi, both pitted against Dennis Hopper as King Koopa.

Brooklyn plumbers Mario and Luigi get the shock of their lives when a twist of fate lands them in a parallel dimension, populated by the human descendants of dinosaurs. Turns out that asteroid hitting the earth millions of years ago didn’t kill them off, but sent them hurtling into a parallel universe. The villainous King Koopa rules over this polluted and diseased dystopia and it is our unlikely heroes who must save Princess Daisy and cross plungers with the evil reptile king to subsequently put an end to his plans to invade our Earth.

The film itself has an inherent uniqueness; there is certainly nothing like it you’ve ever seen before. It is as mad as it is wide – and as nonsensical as that last sentence. Tonally and narratively pickled, pirouetting ham-handedly from scene to scene. This is a profound success taking into account the films extremely laboured production, made aware to us by the hour long documentary “This Ain’t No Video Game” – a feature exclusive to the Second Sight Blu-ray and DVD release.

I remember watching the films years ago, finding it convivial, bright and full of beans. Even though the film wasn’t going to nick any best film accolades, I thought it was probably a good laugh to work on…

“Harrowing, a tough experience”: the relatively subdued yet frank words from one of the film’s two directors, Rocky Morton. This is a heinous understatement taking into account the number of script rewrites from its changing line-up of three screenwriters, the film being shot in a dust and chemical filled old cement factory and its release at a time when video games were akin to ‘video nasties’ and were made the scapegoats for nearly every social issue of the time.

The best thing to take away from this re-release is the way in which the Blu-ray has finally done some sense of justice to David Snyder’s production design, one of the men behind the aesthetic of Blade Runner. Nobody does future dystopia better. In HD with the overhaul-recoloring, this edition looks absolutely breath-taking, giving new life to the alternative Brooklyn Street set and Koopa’s office. It is such a shame that the film doesn’t quite equate itself to anything close to how it looks on screen.

FIW Rating: 2/5

Super Mario Bros: The Motion Picture is available on special edition DVD & Blu-ray now courtesy of Second Sight. Order your copy here.

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