Mario, thanks to the domination of video games, is more recognisable than Mickey Mouse… the games and the character need no more introduction. In 1993, to capitalise on this fame, a film was released that shed much light on the universe he inhabited, and creating a lot of lore along the way, that film was Super Mario Bros.
The film starts supposing that the meteorite that wiped the dinosaurs, just sent them to an alternative dimension to grow parallel with us. and then jumps to twenty years previously in Brooklyn, a mysterious egg was left at an orphanage that gave birth to a human. Twenty years on the girl, now grown up is kidnapped in a spate of disappearances to the alternate dimension. Luckily, she managed to charm one Luigi Mario, who along with his brother Mario Mario, get lost in this mysterious metropolis, Now it’s up to two lowly plumbers, by the name Mario, to go fix this mess, and save not one but two dimensions.
You might have noticed that the plot sounds different from any memories you had playing Super Mario, and the story isn’t the only place where an artistic licence has been employed. Off the bat getting an Englishman and a Colombian-American to play two Italian American brothers might not make much sense, but Hoskins and Leguizamo manage to deliver comedic rapports constantly, with the odd dig at New York thrown in, like a good plumbing duo, they do work well together. Dennis Hooper’s Koopa is an interesting choice, not a brutish juggernaut, but a Germophobic dictator with and evolution/devolution enhancing contraption. The film does manage to reference a lot of the original franchise and hearing the theme song and the 1-up sound effect. Mushrooms do make an appearance, only in a surprising way, along with fireballs, shows a refreshing creative chance the film makes.
The plumbing duo get lost and spend most of their time in, what I can call Dino New York. It is much like current New York only crawling with half-humanoid type things. With their entry into the city feeling like a send-up of the then-current legal system, and the film makes some references to civil liberties and due process. You wouldn’t necessarily expect any of this if you played the game before. Even the aforementioned Koopa is given much more of a backstory than I think he ever got in the games, and Daisy is now a keen archaeologist and is paired up with Luigi, a delightful development.
Taking the slightest cues from its origin, and running in a totally unique direction, Super Mario Bros is a surprisingly fun family-orientated action film. A springboard of both creativity and comedy, it’s impressive what the film does well, especially when it deviates from the source material. It is arguably a product of its time, that through study, time and reverence becomes more of a fascinating treasure of a time long since gone. A time when dinosaurs ruled Brooklyn.
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