To many Hollywood execs, I bet Super Mario Brothers seemed like a sure fit as a movie. Their kids were probably bugging them to buy every new Mario adventure, it seemed like a family friendly property that could not miss. This must have been the thinking behind the $42 million Super Mario Brothers movie.
Staring Bob Hoskins, Dennis Hopper, and a very non-Italian John Leguizamo, the Mario Brothers film was both live action, and truly dreadful to witness. Instead of being a light hearted quest to save the queen, the movie plopped Mario and Luigi in a Blade Runner-style techno world which was gritty, and extremely ugly. There is very little in this movie that has anything to do with the video game of it's namesake. Kids didn't go, adults didn't go, and critics lambasted the movie, all making for a gross of just over $20 million. Thankfully there was no Super Mario World movie, can you imagine Yoshi? And you thought Jar Jar Binks was annoying!!
(After you're done reading today's episode of 28 Years Until Christmas, you should check out feature length article called Video Game to Movie Manifesto. It will explain the three simple rules you MUST live by. And see how it is way out of date, considering that so many movies have come and gone since it was written.)
The Other Side:
Let's be adult about this, most movies based on other forms of media are bad. Just look at movies based on T.V. shows, like, say, Charlie's Angels or Flintstones: Viva Rock Vegas. And most
book readers agree that movies based on literature usually pales in comparison. After all, movies are different than television shows, books, and especially video games.
Even proven television hits don't transition well to film sometimes. Look at the long string of tragically bad Saturday Night Live inspired movies. And hey, it doesn't work the other way around, either, I mean, did we really need a Fast Times at Ridgemont High television series?
It would seem like a box office dud like the Super Mario Brothers movie would extinguish the need to make video game movies, but that's not what happened. Instead, Hollywood churned out a good half dozen video game inspired movies, few of which turned a profit. Movies like Street Fighter, Double Dragon (both in 1994), and Mortal Kombat in 1995 only paved the way to Tomb Raider (2001) and House of the Dead (2003).
Of course, it's not just film. Mortal Kombat and Kirby have both ventured into the television set with mixed results. As the video game industry gets bigger, the chances are greater for bad television shows and movies. Perhaps we should feel thankful that we don't have Metroid: the Musical or something just as bad.
Where Are They Now?:
These days movies have been given a second chance on DVD, but not Super Mario Brothers. Neither Annabel Jankel or Rocky Morton, the directors, worked as a director again, and only one of the writers got a second chance. Not all of the people involved with Super Mario Brothers were harmed, though. Thankfully the actors came out unscathed, for the most part. Bob Hoskins, Dennis Hopper, and John Leguizamo were able to find worthwhile scripts, and revive their careers.
Other video game related movies have faired better, though. Many, including Tomb Raider, Street Fighter, and Final Fantasy, have actually been released as special edition DVDs. And we're not even close to being done with video games based on movies, look for films based on Crazy Taxi, Max Payne, Shinobi, House of the Dead, Alien vs. Predator, and even State of Emergency. So, if you've been trying to ignore the onslaught of game-movies, then perhaps it's best you don't even get out of bed . except to read Defunct Games, of course.