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Empire Magazine

Review: Super Mario Bros.

Friday, May 28, 1993

By Kim Newman

Super Mario Bros.

Starring ...... Bob Hoskins

...... Dennnis Hopper

...... John Leguizamo

Directed by ... Rocky Morton, Annabel Jankel

Cert ?. US. ?? mins.

Opening ... ???

The first film to be adapted from rather than into a Nintendo cartridge, Super Mario Bros. is a shrill, hectic and tiresome fantasy with little story, less excitement and no imaginable audience.

Millions of years ago, a meteor hits the Earth and causes time to fissure around the island of Manhattan, resulting in a cramped parallel universe where humanity has evolved from dinosaurs rather than apes. Lizard King Koopa (Hopper) runs the alternate city and has kidnapped fugitive Princess Daisy (Samantha Mathis), who has been raised from an egg by nuns in our world. Mathis has just caught the attention of Luigi Mario (Leguizamo), younger brother and business partner of mustachioed Mario Mario (Hoskins), and the dedicated plumbers set out to rescue her.

Hauled into the parallel world along with a shard of meteor that powers the plot, the Brothers (who never remotely gain any super powers, perhaps disappointing those tired-fingered games addicts) blunder around a series of theme park rides trying to save the girl and depose the villain. What few good lines there are get snatched by Hopper, who - partnered by the supposedly lizardy but notably mammalian Fiona Shaw - handles the villainy as if there were a real film to back him up rather than a melange of fungus-strewn, leftover Batman sets populated by ridiculous special effects and shouting humans.

Hoksins' strangled American accent wearing very ragged and his looks of amazement pall quickly, while Leguizamo just tags along and handles the few smoochy scenes with the perky Mathis.

Occasionaly, a special effect (a pet-size dinosaur, transformations, disintegrations) raises interest, but there is never any sense that this is more than a technical showreel interspersed with Three Stooges cast-offs. Produced by Jake Eberts and Roland Joffé, usually so smug about their commitment to Serious Quality Subjects, and directed by the husband-and-wife team who gave you lots of videos and Max Headroom, this grotesque imitation of a '90s blockbuster stumbles from the first and winds up flat in the dirt. Game over.


Reprinted with permission from the author.



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