Mario Brothers: The Movie - Too Awesome for You
Super Mario Brothers: The Movie
It is the early 90's and I am but a wee lad at the age of 9. I open up the latest issue of Nintendo Power only to discover that they are turning one of the most iconic video games in history into a live action movie.
The excitement couldn't be contained. I was going to see Super Mario Brothers on the big screen! I am going to see Koopa and Goombas, Mario and Luigi, Bullet Bills and Buzzy Beetles - this was going to be the best movie ever!
In 1993 the movie was released and my gracious mother took me to see it. I distinctly remember that the theater was pretty full at the time. Not sold out, but full of excited teenagers and kids all waiting for the movie to start.
One of my embarrassing memories comes from the fact that some of the scenes actually frightened me a bit. The scene that I remember doing this the most is when Toad becomes a Goomba.
That...was pretty freaky for me at the time. However the movie as a whole was something that I absolutely loved. Naturally, I thought everyone shared in my sentiment. This changed as I got older when I discovered that a lot of people disliked the movie. In fact, several people I came across consider it one of the worst Video Game Movies ever made (excluding the Uwe Boll movies as I think we all want to forget they even exist).
This got me thinking. Was I just caught up in being a little kid who didn't know the difference between a great movie and a bad one? Was I so caught up in my love for Nintendo that I refused to believe that the movie was bad? Or was I in the right and everyone else in the wrong?
Since the release of Mario Brothers in 1993, I've seen the movie over 10 times. It is a guilty pleasure of mine and every time I watch it, I think to myself "Is this movie really as bad as people think it is?"
Personally, I think the answer is no and here is why.
Change: Good or Bad?
Alright. So you have Super Mario Brothers - a video game with a razor thin storyline about a plumber who needs to travel to 8 different castles in order to save a princess who is in charge of something called The Mushroom Kingdom. The plumber has the unnatural ability to jump over twice his height, can use flowers to throw fireballs, can collect stars to become god-like, and fights Turtles, Evil Mushrooms, living Bullets, and so on.
The game is a platformer with almost nothing to lend itself to making a movie out of. The plot is very basic, the enemies make no sense and are impossible to translate onto the big-screen, and the characters have zero personality (excluding the cartoon). So how do you make this into a movie?
You need to change it up.
I think this is where people begin to complain the loudest. Fans of anything cannot tolerate changes from the source material. Harry Potter fans hate the fact some things were either added or excluded in the movies that were not/were in the books. Hunger Game fans were very irritated when the movie excluded/included things from the books - no matter what the genre or the fanbase; fans hate change.
The biggest change was translating the enemies into characters. Remember, this wasn't the era where you could just animate some bad-ass monsters for Mario to step on, using a computer. This was the early 90's. CGI tech was VERY primitive at the time so they needed to come up with a logical solution to the enemies.
That solution? De-Evolution. By turning the enemies of Mario into Dinosaurs (made more logical thanks to Super Mario World), we now have logical explanations for Bowser, Goombas, and Koopa Troops. We are also given a fantastic reason for the term "Mushroom Kingdom" as the King of this world was De-Evolved into living fungus. It also allows for the existence of Yoshi.
With the logical side of the movie explained, now we need a storyline. It is almost never explained why Bowser keeps kidnapping Princess Peach. It is always assumed he is trying to rule over the Mushroom Kingdom but he never acts upon this. He just kidnaps her and holds her hostage. He doesn't start a war. He doesn't send in troops to invade and conquer. He just holds her.
Alright. So. We need a storyline and a reason why Bowser wants Peach (Daisy in the movie). Easy to explain - since this is an alternate dimension, let's give Daisy the key to merge the portals together. Bam! Explanation for kidnapping given. We can also use this to hep flesh out Koopa some more by showing his disgust for the wasteland that he controls.
As for the inclusion of two plumbers in this dino-tastic city, we are given a love story between Daisy and younger Mario Brother, Luigi. Daisy gets kidnapped, Luigi wants to save her, Mario and Luigi get sent to dino-reality and badda bing badda boom; we have Plumbers rescuing a Princess from a evil Dinosaur.
The Super Mario Brothers movie does a lot of things right and I feel that these things are very under-appreciated by the cynics of today's (and even back then) world. With the logic of the movie figured out, we still need a lot of work to tie in the Video Game with the Movie. This means that we need to see several of the game's most iconic moments translated into the movie itself.
How do we do this? By not taking the movie seriously.
Mario is not Mortal Kombat with its massive mythology. It is not Prince of Persia with its real-world setting and mystical powers. It is not Silent Hill with its scary and very mature storyline and characters. It is a game about a plumber saving a princess from a Turtle-Dragon.
As said earlier: Mario has a ton of unnatural abilities. He can jump twice his height, he can shoot fireballs from his hands, he fights unusual monsters; yadda yadda. In order to make this work in a movie you need to literally stop taking the movie seriously and come up with solutions to explain how Mario does this.
And Super Mario Brothers: The Movie does this beautifully. The movie translates that thrill of the game by use of trickery.
How does Mario jump so high? He has ThoWmp Boots of course!
How does Koopa shoot fireballs? With a bad-ass flamethrower! That makes total sense!
Mushrooms? Piranha Plants? Toad?
Everything's here, man. Every iconic moment of the Mario Brothers games have been translated, logically, in the movie. Sure the Goombas are now an unknown species of Dinosaur but who cares? Would you really want to see a 6 foot tall Mushroom beast walking around and having a chubby man jump on its head? NO!
Too Awesome For You
The 90's were a magical time for movies. If there was a TV show or a Video Game that was popular, you had better believe it was coming to the Silver Screen. Whether it is Mario Brothers, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter or Double Dragon; they were going to get made for better (Mortal Kombat) or worse (Double Dragon). But people tend to forget that the 90's was a decade where movies weren't as serious as they are today. We had some of the silliest movies in the 90's and they were awesome.
But what makes Mario Brothers: The Movie so good? Besides the points I made above, I shall now provide a small list of some of the most epic things about the Mario Brothers Movie.
Bowser's Tower uses the same brick design you see in the castles in Mario 3
EASTER EGGS EVERYWHERE
Practical Special Effects & Puppeteering
DENNIS FREAKIN HOPPER AS BOWSER!
In conclusion; the movie is by no means one of the worst Video Game films ever made and I honestly don't think it fair to even consider it. They took a very basic 2D platformer and turned it into a live-action movie while still including a crap ton of content from the games. We have so much fan-service with Easter eggs and being true to the game's designs that I really cannot help but appreciate and love this movie.
Is it corny? Yes. Is it cheesey? God yes. Is it a fun, entertaining movie? Damn skippy it is and honestly that is all that matters!
Who else is a fan of the Super Mario Brothers movie? Please feel free to comment below!