Warning: The following review contains spoilers, reader's discretion is advised.
Ciao e benvenuto di ToriJ Video Game recensioni. This week I thought I'd do something a little different and review a video game movie; the film adaptation of the Super Mario Brothers franchise. Allow me to get the obvious question out of the way, how in the hell do you adapt Mario into a live-action film? An animated or CGI feature I can understand, but with real people involved? Most of these characters don't look anything like real people. Mario is a fucking midget, okay? He needs a mushroom just to grow to a regular size human being. Well, I'll tell you how they make a live-action adaption of it, by making it nothing like the actual games. Hang onto your hats, ladies and gentlemen, because this train is headed to CRAZY TOWN!
Once upon this same earth, beneath this same sun, long before you, before the ape and the elephant, as well; before the wolf, the bison, the whale, before the mammoth and the mastodon, in the time of the dinosaurs.
No, I didn't put in the wrong DVD. This is the opening of the movie. We get some bland animation and some horrible narration about the dinosaurs that lived before us. A meteor then tell them all to fuck off, but instead of just causing them to go extinct it somehow creates a parallel dimension where humans evolved from dinosaurs. I'm sorry, I must have missed the part in school where meteors could tear open portals to different dimensions. Read a fucking science book!
I guess there is truth to the old cliche “You weren't born, you were hatched.”
We then cut to Brooklyn where a woman leaves a dinosaur egg on the doorstep of a church, and when the egg hatch we see a human baby inside of it. Um, okay... Don't want to know how extremely painful it was for the woman to have pushed that out of her vagina. I have to say, the nuns seem to be taking this rather well. I mean, if someone left a dinosaur egg on my doorstep and when it hatched there was a human baby inside I'd be freaking out! I'd also sell the story to every news station in town and use it to become rich and famous, but then again I'm not a nun.
That's Luigi? He has about as much in common with Luigi as Kristin Kreuk has with Chun-Li.
After the biggest WTF beginning of my life, we're finally introduced to our heroes. Mario, played by Bob Hoskins, and Luigi, played by John Leguizamo. To the film's credit, I can believe Bob Hoskins as Mario. He looks the part and I actually enjoy the whole “grumpy skeptic” that he plays him as. John Leguizamo was horribly miscast for this role. He looks nothing like the guy, acts nothing like the guy, and is Luigi in name only. That being said, this is where the film starts to become somewhat watchable. Hoskins and Leguizamo work off of each other rather well and I can buy the idea that they're brothers. I also like the way that they use their plumbing skills to overcome obstacles in the movie.
Ooh, the girl is hot!
Then we have our leading lady, Samantha Mathis, playing the part of Princess Peach–! Oh, my mistake. Princess Daisy, she plays Princess Daisy. Yeah, for some reason the filmmakers felt the need to combine the characters of Peach and Daisy. She has the name, and the romance plot with Luigi, but for all intent and purposes she's Princess Peach. She has the look, the plot relevance, and for God sake they dress her in pink. She's Princess Peach, don't even try to pretend otherwise, movie. I guess they thought Daisy was just a better name, and they'd be right. What kind of a name is Peach anyway?
Since we can't have a movie without a villain, let's move on to Dennis Hopper doing his best Dr. Evil impersonation.
“See you later, alligator.”
Wanna take a guess who this is? Give up? King Koopa in the flesh. Now, to be fair the idea that humans evolved from dinosaurs is a concept that I like, it's just executed so terribly and reduced to bad jokes that I don't care whether or not they explore the idea any further. We're putting bugs in hotdog buns for crying out loud! His hair is pretty cool, though. Just keep that tongue in your mouth, sicko!
King Koopa wants to attain the piece of the meteorite that Daisy keeps around her neck because rejoining it with the meteor will unite the two worlds into one so he can cross over and devolve the human race there back into apes, which he keeps calling monkeys, even though we didn't evolve from monkeys and they are TWO DIFFERENT SPEICES! Also, he can devolve people with a machine? How?! Evolution takes thousands of years to take place, how the hell do you condense that into energy? The Mushroom Kingdom isn't THAT more advanced than we are. It's just not possible, movie. I'm sorry, but it's just not possible!
When did the Mummy get here?
Because it's a Mario movie the leading lady gets herself kidnapped and it's up to the Mario Brothers to save her. This is when we're introduced to the Mushroom Kingdom, and it isn't anything like you'd imagine it to be. Instead of being a whimsical magical world, it looks like the bad part of town you never want to go to. We have filthy streets, people bumping into each other, old ladies with tasers; it's a pigsty, man. You may as well not even call it the Mushroom Kingdom, you may as well just call it “New York City.”
What? What? They even think it's New York in the movie!
Your days of eating mushrooms are over!
King Koopa discovers that while he may have the princess, he doesn't have the meteorite piece he needs and puts a bounty on the heads of Mario and Luigi who are only described by the people there as “plumbers.” How they know what a plumper is, but not understand what a hotdog is is beyond me, but hey why should this movie start making sense now?
Unfortunately for King Koopa, a large woman in red steals the meteorite piece from the Mario Brothers and takes off on bouncing shoes... jet pack? I can't explain it you'd just have to see it for yourself, and when Koopa discovers they no longer have the rock he decides to devolve them. This comes back to bite Koopa on the tail when the Mario Brothers escape and put him in his own devolution machine. I have to admit, this scene is pretty fun to watch. Doesn't make any sense why it didn't devolve Koopa straight away like it did with others, but again if I sat here talking about everything that didn't make sense with the movie I'd be here all day.
They escape the authorities and drive off a cliff, but before they can fall to their doom the fungus saves them. I'm not even joking, the actual fungus all around the city saves them allowing them to escape into the desert. Upon learning that the Mario Brothers escaped into the desert he sends Dumb and Dumber – I mean, Spike and Iggy, who also look nothing like their video game counterparts, into the desert to find them. Spike and Iggy serve as the comic relief of the movie and act like stereotypical dumb people, until King Koopa evolves them so they act like stereotypical smart people instead. You know, how Billy from Power Rangers said big complicated words, or straight up gibberish to make his character sound smarter than he really was? Same thing here, though grant it not as bad. After the two make it to the desert and are tied up, so much for being more intelligent, the Mario Brothers make a deal to exchange the rock for Daisy and set off to find Bertha, the name of the woman who stole it from them in the first place.
I actually really like Bertha. They depict her as a strong woman who even helps the Mario Brothers out, and when was the last time you saw a woman of her weight class in a movie, and made up to look sexy to boot? Unfortunately, like many things in this movie, she's poorly written. Bertha goes from stealing the rock from the Mario Brothers for what I can only assume is for King Koopa, only to wear it at her club, have it stolen by Mario, and instead of being angry about it, she kisses him and now they're best friends.
Around the same time, Spike and Iggy also decides they're no longer on King Koopa's side, and are rather vocal about that fact while being apprehended. This happens out of nowhere with no scenes prior to indicate why they made the decision they did. I guess they just... got smart? Eventually, we do get to Koopa's Tower and we finally get to see the Mario Brothers in their signature outfits.
High five! Down low! Too slow, Luigi!
To be completely honest, I don't hate these outfits. They're probably as good as you're going to get in a live action film. I'm not a fan of Luigi having his hat on backwards since I never cared for that style, but I can live with it. This is the part of the movie where things actually start to get fun with them hiding in the elevator, rescuing Daisy, and Mario final battle with King Koopa. Another thing I like about the film is that they actually make Daisy more useful than either of her video game counterparts. She puts out someone who is on fire, and helps Luigi gets the other abducted girls back home. That is a lot more than I can say for Princess Peach and Daisy in the games. Though I guess Peach could float for a while in Super Mario Bros. 2.
Mario and Luigi also discover that the fungus all over the Mushroom Kingdom is Daisy's father who was devolved as far as devolution can go by King Koopa and that's why the fungus has been helping them, so they defeat King Koopa, save the Mushroom Kingdom and Daisy's father turns back to normal automatically. No explanation. He just poofs back into a human being. Does that mean Spike and Iggy are going to go back to being idiots? Were they ever idiots? They said they were loyal servants of Daisy's father all this time, so... You know what, I give up. Mario and Luigi returns home, Daisy chooses to stay to find out who she is and they all live happily ever after.
Until Daisy barges into their apartment looking like she came from The Terminator, leaving off with a cliffhanger for a conclusion that we'll never see!
So, all in all what do I think? Actually not that bad. It's as far removed from the source material as you can get, but for a kids movie it's relatively harmless. Bob Hoskins as Mario, and Dennis Hopper's over-the-top performance as King Koopa probably saves the movie from being mediocre, and they do have a lot of fun nods to the games. The changes they made actually makes sense looking at it as a live action film which unfortunately made the few times they did stay true to the source material make it look ridiculous. If you're a Mario fan looking for a true adaption you're not going to get it here, but I can think of far worse ways to spend an hour and a half than watching this movie.
Thanks for joining me here this week, and don't forget to tune in next week when I begin Fightbruary. A time to honor the best fighting games that the nineties had to offer from Street Fighter to Mortal Kombat. You aren't going to want to miss it.