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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.


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9 Rarest And Most Valuable Pokémon Cards In Existence

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Holographic Charizard Pokemon Card image
Nintendo

If you’re one of the millions of people with a set of Pokémon cards stashed away somewhere, it might be time to dig-lett them out (sorry). Time to see if any of these babies are in your collection. Here’s our list of the top 9 rarest and most valuable Pokémon cards in existence.

Chances are you haven’t caught them all. But having even one of these could net you a large wad of cash.

Pokémon has been an on/off craze ever since it first started back in the mid-’90s. But despite releasing games, a cult anime series and several films, it’s those little cards that are making a profitable resurgence right now.

Even in just the last three years, rare Pokémon cards have been sold for thousands of dollars at auction. So now is definitely the time to check your collection. Time to see if you could be sitting on a small fortune.

9. 20th Anniversary 24-karat Gold Pikachu

Crafted in solid gold

Sold for 216,000 yen ($2,081) in October 2016.

You don’t get much more unique than a Pokémon card made from solid gold. Yep, you heard right. This insanely unique and incredibly rare Pokémon card was produced by Japanese jewellery maker, Ginza Tanaka. A limited number of solid gold cards were created as a replica of the original Japanese Pikachu card (affectionately nicknamed ‘Fat Pikachu’).

Made from 11 grams of pure 24-karat cold, the only way to get a copy of this ultra-rare Pokémon card was to enter a lottery held in 2016. If you won, you were given the chance to buy a copy of the limited-edition card for 216,000 yen (around $2,081/£1,700).

The solid gold card was shipped in its own unique box and housed in a plastic frame. And what makes this even more incredible is that, whilst most rare and unique Pokémon cards stem from early on in the game’s beginnings, this card appeared for the first time in just the last 5 years. Definitely one of the rarest (and coolest) Pokémon cards in existence.

8. Master’s Key

A more recent card – but no less rare

Sold for $21,000 in November 2019.

Like the 20th anniversary gold Pikachu, Master’s Key is another rare yet relatively new Pokémon card. It made its first appearance just over ten years ago when it was awarded to competitors in the 2010 Pokémon World Championships held in Hawaii.

Participants in both the TCG (Trading Card Game) and video game counterpart received a copy of Master’s Key. Only the trophy case differed depending on the category.

Only 36 copies of the card are estimated to exist – equal to the number of participants in all age divisions of the world championships. And to prove just how rare this Pokémon card is, one of them sold at auction in November 2019 for more than $21,000.

7. Espeon and Umbreon Gold Star POP Series 5

A pair of Gold Star Pokémon cards from one of the most valuable Pokémon sets of all time

Sold for $22,100 and $20,000 respectively between December 2020 and February 2021.

The Gold Star Pokémon cards are one of the most valuable Pokémon sets ever produced. At the time of writing, a near mint full set of 27 cards is for sale on eBay. The price tag? £35,000 ($49,717).

But it’s the Espeon and Umbreon which are the real moneymakers. Perhaps the rarest cards in the set, these two alone sold for over $20,000 in just the last few months.

The cards are named after the gold star that appears next to the Pokémon’s name at the top of the card. It signifies that the card features alternative colour artwork which is different from the common version.

Only 27 Gold Star cards were released from 2004 to 2007. Making them some of the rarest Pokémon cards in existence.

Whilst the Japanese versions of the cards remain the most valuable due to their limited availability, the English versions of the Espeon and Umbreon Gold Star cards still command a high price. PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator – the prestigious organisation that grades the quality, condition and value of trading cards) values the two cards at $194,209 and $187,277 respectively. Easily making them two of the rarest and most valuable Pokémon cards around.

6. 1999 Pokémon Japanese Promo Tropical Mega Battle Tropical Wind

An ultra-rare promo card – one of only 12 ever made

Sold for $65,100 in October 2020.

When it comes to availability, you don’t get much rarer than the Tropical Wind card.

With just 12 being given to the top players at the 1999 Tropical Mega Battle tournament, the Japanese Tropical Wind promo card is extremely rare.

This inaugural tournament – a precursor to the Pokémon World Championships – took place in 1999 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu, Hawaii. The event was invite-only and was a battle between the best 50 players from Canada, Latin America, Europe, the United States, and Japan. During the event, a handful of trophy cards could be obtained. One of these was this baby right here.

This particular Tropical Mega Battle promo card (the 1999 Japanese-language copy of Tropical Wind) has sold at auction for as much as $65,100 in PSA Gem Mint 10 condition, with the most recent sale taking place in October 2020. PSA estimates its value to be as high as $148,482. Making the ultra-rare card a contender for one of the most expensive and valuable Pokémon cards ever made.

5. No. 1 Trainer

Quite possibly the most unknown Pokémon card of all time

Sold for $90,000 in July 2020.

Most people won’t have ever heard of No. 1 Trainer, and it’s even more unlikely they’ll have seen a copy in person. When it comes to rare Pokémon cards, they don’t get much rarer than this.

With only seven copies believed to be in existence, No. 1 Trainer may well be the least known card in existence.

No.1 Trainer is a holographic promotional card awarded to finalists in the Secret Super Battle tournament held in Tokyo in 1999. To earn a place in the competition’s finals (which were held in a secret location) players had to first win a regional tournament. Their prize was the No. 1 Trainer card, which granted them access to the finals.

The text on the front of the card translates to: “The Pokémon Card Game Official Tournament’s champion is recognised here, and this honour is praised. By presenting this card, you may gain preferential entry into the Secret Super Battle.” It’s almost like a modern-day, real-life Golden Ticket to Willy Wonka’s factory.

As only seven regional tournaments were held, it’s believed that just seven copies of the No. 1 Trainer card were made – easily making it one of the rarest Pokémon cards in existence.

4. Pikachu Illustrator

Extremely expensive and extremely rare

Sold for $195,000 in October 2019.

The Pikachu Illustrator card is an incredibly rare Pokémon card. It still holds the Guinness World Record for the most expensive Pokémon trading card sold at auction (although, more about this later…).

Pikachu Illustrator was originally given to winners of promo contests held in 1997 and 1998 by Japanese magazine CoroCoro Comic. 39 copies were officially awarded to the winners. While two copies were reportedly later discovered by one of the creators of the card game, seemingly bringing the total number of Pikachu Illustrator copies to 41.

As well as being ridiculously rare, the card is unique in a number of ways. It’s the only Pokémon card to say “Illustrator” instead of “Trainer” at the top. And has a one-off pen icon in its bottom-right corner to acknowledge its creation for the design contest. The card’s artwork of Pikachu is by Atsuko Nishida, the original illustrator of the fan-favourite Pokémon.

Approximately 19 copies of the card are believed to still exist, with 10 having been certified by the PSA.

A near-flawless copy of the card graded at Mint 9 (one grade under perfect condition) sold at auction in 2019 for $195,000 and broke a Guinness World Record. But arguably, there are a couple of contenders to that crown.

3. Black Star Ishihara Signed GX Promo Card

A signed card to celebrate the Pokémon founder’s 60th birthday

Sold for $247,230 in April 2021.

Of all the cards featured on this list, this rare and incredibly valuable Pokémon card is definitely one-of-a-kind.

Just last month on April 26, 2021, a copy of the Black Star Ishihara Signed GX Promo Card made headlines when it sold for nearly a quarter of a million US dollars.

The card depicts the Pokémon company founder and current president, Tsunekazu Ishihara. It was given to staff as a celebration of his 60th birthday in 2017.

What makes this specific version even rarer is that Ishihara actually signed this near-mint card to boost its price even further.

The ability “Red Chanchanko” refers to the red vest which is traditionally worn on 60th birthdays in Japan and prevents the effect of any attack, ability or trainer card against Ishihara. Meanwhile, its GX move “60 Congratulations” tells you to flip 60 coins, and take a present for each one. A truly unique, legendary card.

2. Pokémon Blastoise #009/165R Commissioned Presentation Galaxy Star Hologram

Quite possibly the only card one in existence

Sold for $360,000 in January 2021.

This Blastoise card is probably the single rarest Pokémon card in existence. One of only two such Pokémon cards ever made, it sold for a whopping $360,000 (£266,000) in January 2021.

This Pokémon card was created in 1998 as a presentation piece by Magic: The Gathering maker Wizards of the Coast to convince Nintendo executives to allow it to handle the TCG’s English-language release. The game would eventually make its international debut one year later in 1999.

While two Blastoise ‘Presentation’ cards were produced, this is the only one that has been seen publicly. Even more impressively, it has been graded at a NM/Mint+ 8.5 level by certification website CGC, meaning that the 20-plus-year-old card is in near-perfect condition. The location and state of the other Presentation card remain unknown. This either means that this card is the sole one remaining, or someone somewhere is unknowingly sitting on a small fortune.

1. 1999 First Edition Shadowless Holographic Charizard #4

The card that every kid wanted

Sold for $369,000 in December 2020.

Charizard. The card that absolutely every kid (and adult too now, apparently) wanted. And while the shiny Charizard has always been a firm favourite, this particular variant is even rarer.

While a number of top quality, first-edition cards from the Pokémon TCG’s early days are worth some money, due to their limited availability and age, this specific version of the holographic Charizard absolutely stands out as one of the rarest and most valuable Pokémon cards ever released.

What sets the card apart is the lack of a shadow underneath the dragon graphic. This was a printing error which was corrected for most of the cards printed but the few that sneaked passed quality control are incredibly sought after.

According to auction house Iconic Auctions, the rare card is “the Holy Grail of Pokémon cards, the most iconic and important card to both the Pokémon franchise and its die-hard fans”.

A mint-condition first-edition shadowless holographic PSA 10 Charizard sold at auction in October 2020 for a staggering $220,574 to the retired rapper – and Pokémon fan – Logic. Then, just two months later in December, another one of the same quality sold for a mind-blowing £350,000.

There’s more

But as if that wasn’t enough, just a few hours after that, yet another card broke all records, selling for a mind-numbing £369,000.

Although this hasn’t officially been recognised by Guinness World Records, this certainly knocks the Pikachu Illustrator off its perch, as well as the staggering sum held by the Blastoise Galaxy Star Hologram.

Either way, despite not being the rarest, this is definitely the most valuable Pokémon card sold to date. But with the desire for rare Pokémon cards showing no signs of slowing, the big question is: how much higher can their value go?

One thing’s for sure, if anyone out there truly has caught them all, that would make for one incredibly valuable collection.


And that’s our list of the 9 rarest and most valuable Pokémon cards in existence. Did you ever have any of these? Which is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below.


Are Team Rocket just misunderstood? Read our article HERE.

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