The SUPER MARIO BROS. movie Is SO much better than you think.

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All pictures in this article: Super Mario Bros. copyright 1993  Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc.

If you have an opinion at all about the  Super Mario Bros. movie, it’s either that you completely hate it, or you completely love it. There’s no middle road for this 1993 comedy adventure classic starring Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, and Dennis Hopper.  This is understandable for many reasons. Die hard fans of any made-into-a-movie property are going to feel passionately about it one way or the other. You want to see the movie version of the thing you love “done right”. The problem is video game movies are notorious for “getting it wrong”.

This is not my school of thought, however. I believe that you have to look at the source material of any property that’s been made into a movie, or another form of media besides it’s original, as something completely different (and honestly, I think the same goes for remakes and reboots as well).

Just because the newest version of your favorite movie, comic, or video game, changed in it’s reinterpretation doesn’t mean it ruined your childhood. Just because it isn’t exactly what you had in mind, doesn’t mean it’s not an awesome experience in and of itself.

 

This brings me to Super Mario Bros.

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This movie has all of the perfect, weird makings of a great, early 90s, adventure movie. The premise that they… ended up with, was Mario (Bob Hoskins) and Luigi (John Leguizamo) have to save Daisy (Samantha Mathis) from the evil King Koopa (Dennis Hopper). Daisy gets kidnapped by a couple of Koopa’s goons and taken through an inter-dimensional portal to a where the humanoid beings are descended from dinosaurs instead of apes. Mario and Luigi follow them through the portal and, naturally, get up to all sorts of high jinks.

The world that’s set up in the movie looks and acts exactly like a post-apocolyptic/future super-mario-bros-movie-004dystopian movie world. It feels like Bladerunner meets Mad Max meets Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (In fact the 1990 TMNT movie would be a great double feature with Super Mario Bros.). There’s retrofitted technology and strange, otherworldly customs that the Mario brothers must navigate, and which are the cause of any given comedic moment in the movie.

The action sequences are also so classically 90s too. There is minimal CGI so the majority of stunts and special effects are practical. If you replace the SciFi metropolis setting with 1930s Egypt, you’d basically have Indiana JonesAlls I’m sayin is no one complains about the Indiana Jones video games ruining the movies…

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w72780esgvfyI really enjoy the nods to the original source material. I liked how Mario’s super human jumping ability in the games is done with powered jumping boots in the movie. I like the little wind-up Bob-omb, and the fact that mushrooms are growing everywhere. I like the little easter eggs from the games like a sign in the background that says “Bullet Bills”. I like that it’s not a perfect interpretation of the Super Mario games.

If you want to watch a movie with a ridiculous, fun plot and ridiculous, fun action, Super Mario Bros. is the movie for you.

 

 

 

 

Wikipedia Article for Super Mario Bros.

IMDB Super Mario Bros.

Top Three for Twenty Seventeen

But weren’t actually released in 2017…

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Arrival, Swiss Army Man, The Witch

I have no idea what this blog is going to look like, or what the point is, other than for me to talk about movies that I love. So I guess I’ll just get it going with the best three movies I’ve watched in 2017 so far.

It’s been a pretty good couple of years for movies. Plenty of silly, high budget blockbusters that act like a fishing rod on my wallet. Seriously, I can see a Marvel Studios executive casting a line to cartoonishly hook the twelve bucks out of my pocket and say “I’ll take that…” as they reel it in. Curse you Marvel Studios for continuing to make movies that I like.

But I digress. Not only have there been money-sponging movies that generate their own gravity, but also plenty of movies that fall into a more [insert pretentious word here] category. The three best movies I’ve seen this year, I would say, fall under this category. They are, in no particular order: Arrival, Swiss Army Man, and The VVitch (I’m a sucker for that double ‘V’). Each of these movies sort of blew my mind in a way.  Each was wonderfully fresh and original.

 

Arrival (2016) Dir. Denis Villeneuve

Arrival is an extremely important movie right now. It advocates communication and understanding on an entirely basic level. When aliens land on earth with no explanation, the world’s governments scramble to learn why they’ve come and what their intentions are. They employ a linguistics expert to attempt to make contact and initiate a dialog with said aliens. I was sold on this movie when the military industrial complex character charged the linguistics/scientist characters to get these questions answered, and the linguistics/scientist characters answered the MIC character with- we need to make sure these aliens understand the concept of what a question is first.

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Arrival, Photo Copyright Paramount Pictures 2016

We’re living in a time when it seems like people are struggling to understand each other- an environment that germinates fear. Arrival offers us an example of a patient path to communication, and by virtue, a path to world with less fear.

 

Swiss Army Man (2016) Dir. Daniel Scheinert, Daniel Kwan

I wish I had seen this movie when I was 16. Swiss Army Man explores ideas about people and our relationships with them and the rest of the world in a hilariously unapologetic way. It asks questions like: why can’t we talk about life openly? Why can’t we talk about farting and sex? The answer is, obviously, we can. But there are so many convoluted taboos in society that it’s often difficult, on a micro and macro level, to talk about stuff like that.  A good movie, I think, reveals some truth in a way. Swiss Army Man nails what it means to fit into society, relationships, and your own heads.

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Swiss Army Man, Photo Copyright A24 2016

Daniel Radcliff playing a dead guy is friggin halarious and the movie is  worth watching just for that. But what sold it for me was the incredible soundtrack, that has sort of an Animal Collective meets Radical Face sound, and the quirky, found material set design.

 

The VVitch (2015) Dir. Robert Eggers

It can be difficult to find well made horror movies. So many of them these days rely on shallow jump scares and creepiness for creepiness sake. Which, don’t get me wrong, I love those things too. Plenty of movies that I’ll probably end up talking about in later posts use these methods. But The VVitch taps into a deeper, shiver-inducing, psyche. It’s set in 17th century, puritan New England. So already there’s the off-putting, heavy-handed, religious society aspect about everything. Maybe it’s just me, but religious oligarchies wig me out, so already I’m on edge with the setting. The film continues to create a fantastically unnerving setting when the main characters are shunned from the town and isolate themselves on a farm by the edge of a forest- where dwells, you guessed it, the witch.

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The Witch, Photo Copyright A24 2015

This movie is ALL about atmosphere. There really aren’t any jump scares and when there is gore, the gore has value beyond shock. The cinematography was perhaps my favorite thing about it (other than the fact that I love witches). Each shot was reminiscent of an old Dutch painting, where light is just as much of a character as any of the people in it. The director doesn’t skimp on metaphor either. The character of the father chops away ceaselessly at a pile of wood. The movie contextualizes this to show that with each piece of wood he stacks, he is stubbornly authoring his own ending.

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The Witch, Photo Copyright A24 2015

And speaking of endings…horror movies with good, let alone great, endings are few and far between. But the ending of The VVitch  is peeeerrrfect.