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What Went Wrong? Super Mario Bros

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Reviewing a bad movie that could’ve been better

Super Mario Bros movie image
Hollywood Pictures

I’m looking at the Super Mario Bros movie (1993), why was it so bad and what went wrong. I know this not is a controversial hot take from us, but video game movies often get something of a bad rap in the movie business. If there are any movies based on video games that are considered good, I can’t think of any. The original Mortal Kombat was probably the best of the bunch, but that might have been because it was…less terrible than other movies like it.

But, there are some that stand out as truly miserable, disappointing, and just…really not good. One of the most prominent examples of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad movie is 1993’s Super Mario Bros. Based on the wildly popular video game series from Nintendo. Why? Well, let’s look at it closer…

Why It Was Terrible
I mean…how much time do you have?

The first issue with the movie is that it was in no way faithful at all to the original Nintendo games.


Let’s not forget, the Super Mario Bros game series was based on the concept of two colour-coordinated plumbers. Mario Mario and Luigi Mario…one of the only legitimately funny scenes in the movie. And their kinda-sorta dinosaur pet/friend named Yoshi. Yoshi was known to fly and shoot fireballs. They all jumped up and down on turtles and headbutted question mark-signed blocks to get coins and ate mushrooms that you made you get bigger. All to save Princess Peach from the clutches of Bowser/King Koopa. He was a dinosaur turtle villain who was always keeping the princess in another castle.

You have to admit, this is a bonkers concept. The mushroom-eating suddenly makes a wee bit more sense now, reading that all over. But it got over like rover with generations of video gamers. In fact, it was one of the first truly universally-beloved video game franchises. Mario was as responsible for starting the rise of video games as anything ever was.

So, when making a movie out of this, all the creative team had to do was…not take this ludicrous-yet-beloved concept and drive it off a cliff. But boy, did they ever drive it off a cliff.

Instead of taking this colourful, whimsical story and making a colourful, whimsical movie. In part due to costs, the creators of the Super Mario Bros. movie turned it into a dark, steampunk-inspired dreary hellscape. But instead fully committing to the idea of a steampunk-inspired dreary hellscape. They instead they combined that with colour-coordinated plumbers. Plus, their dinosaur friend, and a dash of fungi and mushrooms. So basically it ended up as “Blade Runner, but really bad.”

Not only that, but it also had a ridiculously talented cast. It included award-winning actor Bob Hoskins (who almost died many times during filming, nearly drowning, electrocution and stabbing, but that’s all another story). John Leguizamo, and Dennis Hopper (also an award-winning actor and someone who probably knows a thing or two about eating mushrooms). It was just a mess all around…seriously, how did Cinergi Pictures get this off the ground?

How Could It Have Been Improved?

There are so many things they could have done better, but in my opinion, the biggest thing they could’ve done was commit to their vision and just gone with it.

Yes, taking a hilariously over-the-top video game like Super Mario Bros and turning it into a steampunk thriller may have been weird. But it’s not without precedent. Sometimes, you take a book/game/comic and fundamentally change a lot of things about it. But you really work hard to make it good and commit to the vision. It can be an enlightening and engaging new take on the work and can turn it into a classic (here’s looking at you, The Dark Knight).

But Super Mario Bros. never fully decided if it wanted to be goofy like the game or gritty and dark like…they sort of tried to do in the movie.

If they wanted to really make a dark, neo-noir movie that fundamentally changed much of the story but went all out, I think this could’ve been a good movie. Maybe not the movie Nintendo would’ve wanted based on the source material, but it would’ve been interesting and watchable.

In fact, the directors originally wanted the movie to be R-rated in the US. They wanted to include a lot of sex and violence. It wouldn’t have fit the Super Mario Bros mould, per se, but it would have been an interesting and original take that might have worked.

But sadly, they didn’t…they tried to do way too much and failed at doing all of it.

Rethinking Super Mario Bros

So who would star in it today and could it be a revived franchise? Sonic has been on the big screen recently, so why not Mario?

If they were to redo the movie today, there would actually be some potential. Even though Super Mario Bros hasn’t really been a relevant franchise in a while if you think about it.

The first thing would be to determine whether they wanted to play it like the original games. Think over-the-top, cheesy, but entertaining. Or go in a different direction like The Dark Knight or even like the original Super Mario Bros movie might have been trying to do.

Honestly, I think the best bet would be to steer closer to the original games. To keep a sense of whimsy. CGI and special effects have improved drastically since 1993. It would be easier to include a lot of the more fantastical elements from the original series. And potentially get a long-running franchise out of the film (the princess could be in a different castle to end each instalment!) – not to mention that it could renew interest in the Mario franchise in a new generation of fans.

As far as casting? Personally I feel like there would be a lot of potential in casting someone like Seth Rogen in the role Mario. He has proven that he can be really funny but can also play it straight when needed (i.e. Observe and Report), plus he looks a bit like Mario. Luigi would be a good role for someone like Andy Samberg perhaps, for similar reasons to Rogen.

Bowser could be a good role for someone with serious, dramatic acting chops but also someone who could go funny when needed. Someone like a Jason Isaacs, or even a Gary Oldman (even though Oldman is a bit old for the role).

Nintendo hasn’t given the rights to anyone to make a new movie since 1993, but could Mario be ready to bounce back?

In Summary

Super Mario Bros was indeed one of the biggest bombs in a category (video game movie adaptations) that has featured countless bombs. But if it were to be rebooted today, and stay more faithful to the original video games. It could at least make money in the realm of mindless entertainment, and could likely form a franchise.


Thanks for reading our review of Super Mario Bros (1993). Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.


More from our movie pages HERE

Read IMDB information on Super Mario Bros HERE.

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Animal Crossing 2.0 – Review

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Nintendo

On November 5th, Animal Crossing 2.0 alongside the DLC Happy Home Paradise was released. It was the last major free update to hit the latest game in the franchise and added a host of new features to the game. After almost a month of playing it, here’s our review and everything new in Animal Crossing 2.0 from Nintendo.

Background

Animal Crossing has been around for 20 years, with its first release on 14th April 2001. Since then it’s released several versions of the game for the DS, Wii, and so on.

The latest version, New Horizons, came to the Nintendo Switch at just the right time; at the very beginning of Quarantine. It was easily the most popular Nintendo game last year. But it had a fatal flaw; rather than including everything upfront, Nintendo would release periodic updates where they would add to the game. The goal was to keep the game feeling fresh, but the result was that New Horizons felt unfinished. The game was bare-bones compared to past versions of Animal Crossing and didn’t have half as much to do. With the release of the last free update, New Horizons finally feels like a complete game. So what’s new? While there were a lot of things added and small things fixed, we’re just going to focus on the major gameplay changes and additions.

Brewster

The beloved pigeon, Brewster, has been in Animal Crossing since 2005. He runs a cosy coffee shop, The Roost, usually located in the Museum. But he has been missing from New Horizons. A fan favourite, his absence has definitely been felt. Brewster is one of the most demanded additions to New Horizons. With the update, you can find him gyroid hunting on one of Kapp’n’s Islands and invite him to your island, where he will set up the Roost once more. You will also find some of your residents and NPCs there and can invite current and past Animal Crossing characters to the Roost via Amiibo card.

Kapp’n

Speaking of Kapp’n, the turtle is back. In past versions of the game, Kapp’n is usually the one taking you to your new village at the start of every game. Whether it be by taxi, bus, or train, Animal Crossing typically kicks off with the retired seafarer. But New Horizons didn’t feature Kapp’n at all; until now. Now you can have him take you on island tours via his little boat off your dock. Some of these islands are extremely rare and feature exclusive items. He also sings you a little song while you make the journey..

Gyroids

Gyroids have, once again, been a part of every Animal Crossing game until New Horizons. They are little singing things that can be placed like furniture. In New Horizons, you can find a fragment on Kapp’n’s islands, bury it, water it, and a gyroid will grow the next day. Or some may be buried on your island after a rainy day. While past versions of gyroids have been annoying, the New Horizon’s gyroids are adorable and delightful. In New Horizons, Brewster is an avid collector. You’ll even get a Brewster gyroid after drinking enough coffee.

Cooking / Farming

Cooking has also been added to the game, something entirely unique to New Horizons. You can purchase crop starts from Leif, start a farm, and then cook the produce you grow. This opens up a whole host of fun recipes, and you can gift your creations to your residents. Eating a meal will make your villager stronger for longer, the same effect eating fruit previously had.

Group Stretching

You can also host a group stretching event in the plaza. Random villagers and NPCs will join you. You can use your controllers to actually stretch with them, or use the joysticks if you’re stuck with a Lite or don’t feel like standing up.

Harv’s Island

Harv’s Island was previously… pretty useless. There was really nothing to do there aside from taking pictures, which is fun once. Now you can help him build an open-air Farmers Market/Commune. For 100,000 bells each, you can invite NPCs to set up a permanent shop. Among these are Leif, Redd, Kicks, Saharah, Reese, and Cyrus, who have all been seen in New Horizons. But it also introduces the return of Tortimer, the mayor from past games. (Who some fans theorized was dead until now). Harriet, a hairdresser who introduces a ton of new hairstyles to the game. And the fortune-teller Katrina. This expansion to Harv’s island is a huge resource.

You no longer have to wait for these NPCs to come to your island to purchase goods from them. It also opens up more customization for previously uncustomisable items. And it’s another goal to work towards after you pay off your home loans.

Ordinances

You can now issue Ordinances through Isabelle in the town hall. These include things like adding a Bell Boom so that you find more bells and goods are worth more, but things also cost more. Or the Beautiful Island ordinance, which will have your villagers pick up weeds and trash and will cause your flowers to grow faster. You can also issue that your villagers wake up earlier or go to bed later.

Happy Home Paradise

In addition to 2.0, a DLC was added to the Nintendo Store. Happy Home Paradise allows you to “get a job” building vacation homes. You report to your boss Lottie for work, alongside your coworkers Niko and Wardell. From there, you choose a character and build a home for them. They will give you a theme and some items they want to see in their home. You can also design facilities, like a cafe or school and assign characters to work in them. Using an amiibo card, you can also design homes for NPCs like Isabelle or Tom Nook, where you will have free reign over the design.

Happy Home Paradise also introduces partition walls which allow for more design options in your house. It also includes a lot of new furniture. When you’ve designed enough vacation homes, you are able to then redesign the houses on your island.

HHP adds a lot to the game. Animal Crossing’s flaw has always been that it gets too repetitive. HHP adds some flavour and a lot more to do. So even long after you’ve paid off your home loan and made your island pretty, you can still really engage with the game. It adds to and boosts life on the island, but also extends the world a bit. You can interact with more characters beyond just your residents and have more interaction with NPCs beyond purchasing goods from them.

Overall

All in all, the 2.0 update and Happy Home Paradise have elevated New Horizons. It makes the game feel new and adds what many fans have been asking for. While they are both great, it’s hard to shake the feeling that this all should have been included from the get-go like past versions of the game. After playing a skeleton of a game for a year, we now truly have a new Animal Crossing game.


Do you like Animal Crossing 2.0? Do you agree with our Animal Crossing review? Let us know in the comments below.


We compare Animal Crossing with Stardew Valley HERE.

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