Super Mario Bros (1993)

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Released 3-Mar-2008

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer-Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1993
Running Time 99:03
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Annabel Jankel
Rocky Morton
Roland Joffé
Dean Semler
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Bob Hoskins
John Leguizamo
Dennis Hopper
Samantha Mathis
Fisher Stevens
Richard Edson
Fiona Shaw
Dana Kaminski
Mojo Nixon
Case ?
RPI ? Music Alan Silvestri


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

How often does one find themselves revisiting beloved childhood classics to find nothing but unpleasant disappointment? They can't all be or Back to the Future or Star Wars (the original - and only, as far as I'm concerned - trilogy) - most of the time, they're garbage like The Goonies, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or Labyrinth. So, imagine my surprise to find that the silly cult 1993 video game movie Super Mario Bros is not completely terrible, but actually a fun little tidbit to watch. It's not winning any Oscars, nor does it make a great deal of sense, but it's got a lot of fun characters and performances and truly boggling sequences that make it great fun to take in as a B-movie that doesn't aim too high.

Super Mario Bros begins with some absurd animation that details the "true story" of how the dinosaurs went extinct via a meteorite, but many survived in an alternative parallel universe where they evolved into human-type-thingies, built a small city-area that was coated in fungus, and were born from eggs. Take that, quantum physics! Mario Mario (Bob Hoskins) and Luigi Mario (John Leguizamo) are sibling plumbers who find themselves journeying nonsensically into this universe after gorgeous Princess Daisy (Samantha Mathis) is kidnapped by the henchmen of King Koopa (Dennis Hopper, having a hammy blast). What ensues is poorly written, directed and edited action sequences in which they fight the evil Koopa and his henchmen - the hysterical Goombas - assisted by the fungus, which gives them a wind-up walking bomb, and ultimately save the day with the help of an adorable animatronic dinosaur named Yoshi and boots that allow them to fly.

Funnily enough, the performances by Bob Hoskins and newcomer John Leguizamo are actually pretty good, and everyone is actually trying to sell this complete and utter nonsense. These aside, nothing really works in Super Mario Bros, a film that would be let down by the completely baffling script and inept filmmaking if it wasn't so fun to watch. There's something incredibly quaint about seeing all of these silly special effects done with minimal computer generated aide, from the animatronic Goombas and Yoshi to the lovingly ugly art design that drapes fungus and slime over the entire set, alongside a hysterical Dennis Hopper screaming every line at the top of his voice as the insane plot goes from Point A to Point Lord-Knows-Where. The downfall of any "so-bad-it's-good" film is boredom, and there wasn't many dull or draggy scenes in Super Mario Bros - in my professional opinion, it'd be hard not to have a good time with this film.

The ending sets up a sequel that never happened, probably due to the film never recouping its budget, but as it is I think this is a fun little film that isn't going to raise anyone's consciousness but isn't going to destroy your mind. Notice how I haven't written anything insipid here like "it's based on a video game, what can we expect?" - in the modern age where interactive storytelling is actually doing some incredibly remarkable stuff (see Grand Theft Auto IV, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, or my personal favourite, Bioshock) there's plenty enough uninformed idiot critics spewing bile about things they don't understand (yes, Roger Ebert, I'm looking at you) True, the phenomenal original Super Mario Bros. game had about as much plot as your average trip to the supermarket, and the film translation tries pretty hard to introduce it's ridiculous universe to our own, but the success of this is unimportant. It's a lot of fun, and one can't complain about that.

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Transfer Quality

Video

The video is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

This is a very cheap transfer, with some issues with grain and slightly dulled colour, but it still looks pretty good for the majority of the running time. There's a lot of darker scenes across this film but there's few issues with low level noise - one early scene at 12:30 loses detail in the darkness, but it appears to be the exception. There are occasional issues with minor film artefacts, but the level of detail in each scene is very good - important for admiring the really strange set design.

I came across no examples of interlacing; pleasing as this is my pet hate while trying to watch a DVD nowadays. The video maintains an average 4.5mbs bitrate.

There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

The audio is presented in English Dolby Digital 2.0 (Stereo).

This is a perfectly audible but no-frills audio track, unfortunately lacking the full surround I'd have preferred from this movie. The dialogue is very audible and all those wacky Nintendo sound effects that sound completely out-of-place are intact.

The musical score here is by none other than Alan Silvestri, the composer who did actually good films like Cast Away and Identity, who did a pretty decent job with what he had. For me, more notable is that the Super Mario Bros. theme actually opens the film, and we hear little tidbits from the original game throughout the film. It's completely out of place, and it's hysterical.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Animated Menus with Sound

The menus here look totally stupid, featuring that same great Super Mario Bros. theme with some animated images from the film over blocks.

Theatrical Trailer (1:37)

Presented initially in super crappy 1.33:1 but then keeps changing aspect ratio, this trailer scored almost entirely to Snap's "The Power" tells us practically nothing about the film but is full of explosions and quotes and a narration which makes practically no sense. I can't recommend it enough.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

There are identical R1 and R4 versions of this particular film - however, a Dutch R2 disc features a 5.1 soundtrack, making that the pick, if you're prepared to go to extreme and expensive lengths just to hear Super Mario Bros. in surround sound. In which case, you are an insane person.

Summary

Super Mario Bros. is crap, but it's fun as heck to watch.

The video and audio transfers both display very high levels of competency without offering anything spectacular.

There are nearly no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ryan Aston (Bioshock)
Friday, August 15, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3 (HDMI 1.3) with Upscaling, using Component output
DisplayBenq PE7700. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderLogitech 5500 THX. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationLogitech 5500 THX
SpeakersLogitech 5500 THX

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