2/06/2013

Super Mario Bros: The Movie was the first videogame adaptation, and it was such a disaster that it was almost the last. This movie doesn't make a whole lot of sense to begin with, the result of having gone through several screenwriters, the studio demanding changes right on the set, and then having been massacred in the editing room. I'll be posting an article with some interesting facts about the filming of this movie, but first let's talk about the movie itself. Specifically, nine really bizarre things that stand out.

1. The Opening Sequence - The opening sequence sets up the audience for a bad experience. It's a cartoon with a voice-over that explains how the dinosaurs were wiped out by a meteor, and shows us a couple of talking dinosaurs. Apparently, this sequence was added at the last minute, and it shows. The animation is barely animated at all. And then there's the skunk...which isn't exactly well-known as a prehistoric creature. The sequence ends with a meteor hitting the Earth, and the voice-over explaining how the meteor created another dimension, where the dinosaurs survived. Anyone with even a hint of interest in science would be asking themselves why a meteor impact would create another reality, but the worst is yet to come.
"Are we making this movie better or worse?" "Couldn't possibly make it worse."

2. The Whole Movie is About Dinosaurs - There's a lot of stuff in the Super Mario Bros. game - flying bullets, fish, walking bombs, turtles, you name it. The one thing the game doesn't have a lot of is dinosaurs. There's pretty much one, Yoshi. Yet they decided to make this movie all about dinosaurs. They even turned King Koopa into a dinosaur - he's actually more of a turtle in the videogame. The rumor is that the whole idea of an alternate reality populated by dinosaurs was from an unproduced screenplay written by Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel long before they ever entered the Super Mario Bros movie project. That rumor would explain a lot.

3. The Super Mario Brothers Aren't Brothers - Super Mario Bros: The Movie, you had one job: make a movie about two brothers named Mario and Luigi. And you couldn't even get that right. Because in this movie, Mario and Luigi are not brothers. In the movie, it's revealed that Mario found Luigi as a baby, and raised him, making him more like a foster parent to Luigi. But for some reason, they still call them brothers. Doesn't work that way.
4. Their Last Name is Mario - In the video games, not much information is provided on the Mario Brothers. We don't even know their last names. Well, in this movie, we find out their last name is Mario. So their names are Mario Mario and Luigi Mario. First of all, Mario is not an Italian last name. Second of all, even if it was, why would his parents give him the first name Mario? That's just a recipe for disaster.

5. The Entire Species is Living in One City - If the globe Koopa shows at one point is accurate, literally the only thing left in the whole dinosaur world is the city of Dinohatten. And it's not even that big. The rest of the planet is just one big desert. It's never really explained how the dinosaurs wiped out all the resources or what happened to all the other dino sapiens. But if you're all going to live in one city, why did they make it so small? Spread out. Build some shantytowns. Something.

6. The Dinosaurs All Look Human - The entire premise of the movie is that the dinosaurs survived and evolved into sentient humanoids like ourselves. It's not a bad idea, and one that scifi has gotten some mileage out of in the book series East of Eden and Star Trek. The problem with this idea in Super Mario Bros is that their dinosaur-evolved beings look exactly like us, even though they evolved from a completely different species. If you want to see what some scientists think dinosaur-evolved beings would look like, check out Dale Russell's "dinosauroid" design.
"I would have made 'Super Mario Bros: The Movie' awesome
Of course, these creatures would be awfully expensive to create, which is probably why Super Mario Bros went with regular human actors. The only thing that distinguishes them from normal humans is their habit of wearing leathery clothing and some weird hair-dos. They did attempt to put a dinosaur look on some of the extras, who inexplicably have lizard parts coming out of their faces, which is sort of like if some humans walked with monkey bits popping out of their foreheads.

7. The Goombas Have Little Dino-Heads
The studio executive who greenlit this movie
One of Koopa's weapons is a de-evolver machine that reverts or advances anyone along the evolutionary path. But for some reason, Koopa only uses it to de-evolve people's heads. Why he doesn't de-evolve their whole bodies is never explained, especially since he gets a portable version that does just that later in the movie. Koopa mainly uses the head-devolver to create an army of lizard-headed creatures called Goombas. This gives the goombas small heads, but huge bodies. And the Gooma's bodies are actually larger than they were before the de-evolver shrank their heads or at least they are in Toad's case. This is one thing that gives me a headache thinking about.

8. One of the Main Characters is a Fungus
It's established that Koopa de-evolved the former king into a fungus that has now spread and infested the entire city. This is intended to connect the movie to the game, where mushrooms play a big role. At one point, Koopa even calls the city a "mushroom kingdom," which is from the game. The fungus is still sentient, and even tries to help out by giving the Mario Brothers things. But it doesn't work. Instead of mushrooms, most of the fungus takes the form of slime. The movie also shows people interacting with the fungus, including a scene when Daisy introduces Mario to the fungus as her father. This involves a lot of awkward scenes with the characters talking directly to piles of goo.

9. The Goomba Dance

In one scene, the Mario Brothers are hiding in an elevator where it fills with goombas. Luigi's plan of escape is to make the goombas sway side-to-side to the elevator music, arguing that everyone likes to dance. If you can call swaying dancing. And while it's true that everyone loves to dance, I still haven't figured out how Luigi thought this would help them escape. I mean, they do, but only because the goomba supervisor gets mad at them, and the Mario Brothers escape in the confusion. Since there's no way for Luigi to know that would happen, I'm still trying to figure out the plan.

Do these things make sense? What else did you find bizarre about the movie? Let us know in the comments.

[Image Source: YouTube]

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13 comments:

remo4711 said...

I spent several months wondering these things while working on this movie. I'm interested to see your other article you're writing about this movie!

Sci-Fi Gene said...

The explanation I heard for the dinosaur obsession is that this film is actually a mockbuster - they were hoping to reap the benefits of publicity from a certain other dinosaur related 1993 movie.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It's been so many years, I'd forgotten how bad that movie was. Think I only watched ten-fifteen minutes of it.
Makes you wonder what on earth they were thinking. Trying to do something original? Stick to the source material!

jeremy [retro] said...

i must say, i am a total nerd... i loved this movie, some where in my house lives a Goomba... which i rescued from an evil toy store...

Nigel Mitchell said...

I love the insight you give on this movie. We've all seen behind the scenes stories on good movies, but bad movies? Even better

Nigel Mitchell said...

Yeah, I'd heard that too. Mario Brothers was the first mockbuster, I like that

Nigel Mitchell said...

I actually loved this movie, too. If you don't think too much and forget the game, it can be fun. But it hasn't aged well

Pat Dilloway said...

I'm glad I never saw this movie. It really set video game movies back. Well that and the Street Fighter movie. But there was a decent Roxette ballad on the soundtrack. I think the reason for them not being brothers is they hired Bob Hoskins as Mario but he was really too old to be brothers with the young guy they probably wanted as Luigi for sex appeal or whatever.


Anyway I'm sure with CGI someone could make a much better Mario movie now.

Tony Laplume said...

Still have never seen it.

Nigel Mitchell said...

Yeah, "Street Fighter" was another bad one. Maybe I'll do a write up on that, too


Agreed about the brother thing, Pat. From what I understand, casting is the reason. But hey, I know brothers who are 20 years apart. It's not impossible.

Hypocrites said...

The last name one is stupid. You don't call Chris and Liam Hemsworth the Chris Brothers, you'd call them the Hemsworth Brothers. Mario has always been their last name. And I think being called Mario Mario is the least of his concerns when surrounded by all the other ridiculous names in that universe.

MadNessMonster said...

RE: Number 6 - Dale Russel's Dinosauroid isn't even what scientists think a sapient dinosaur would look like (way too Anthropomorphic), so there's that.

Nigel Mitchell said...

While scientists may disagree on what sapient dinosaurs look like, scientists all agree they wouldn't look like humans with spiky hair.

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