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Super Mario Bros. was the first Hollywood film adaptation of a video game. Released on Memorial Day weekend of 1993, the film was hit with scathing reviews, both from fans of the games and film critics in general. It subsequently bombed at the box office. However, the production of Super Mario Bros. paved the way for other video game adaptations, including Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Mortal Kombat and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.
The story of Super Mario Bros. plays out like a prequel to the video games. After a brief prologue describes how the asteroid that supposedly wiped out the dinosaurs actually created a dimensional rift, allowing the dinosaurs to live and evolve in a separate world, the story jumps ahead in time to Brooklyn-based plumber Mario Mario and his younger brother Luigi. The pair, down on their luck, have their lives turned upside down when Luigi meets Daisy, a cute college student who is kidnapped by a pair of idiot goons. Mario and Luigi try to rescue her, only to follow her through the dimensional rift to the other world.
As it turns out, Daisy is the princess of this world, and the villainous Koopa, who had turned the king into fungus and usurped power, had searched for her for years in order to recover the meteor shard kept in her possession. The Mario Bros., meanwhile, are forced to navigate their way through the bizarre world, rescue Daisy, and stop Koopa's plan.
Divergence from the Source Material
The Super Mario Bros. movie takes many liberties in its adaptation of the source material. However, while the Super Mario Bros. video games are traditionally very light on story, thus leaving a door wide open for the writers and designers, the end result bears little actual resemblance to the games. Some of these differences include:
The strange alternate world resembles a cheap interpretation of Blade Runner's futuristic Los Angeles with a few stylistic flourishes taken from the games.
The princess is Daisy of Super Mario Land. However, Daisy is the princess of Sarasaland, not the Mushroom Kingdom. In fairness, Princess Peach of the main Super Mario Bros. titles was still known as Princess Toadstool in western markets at the time of the film's production.
Goombas are gigantic imbeciles used as Koopa's muscle. In the games, they're armless cannon fodder that can be defeated by stomping on them.
Technology is used to explain Mario's in-game abilities. A pair of jump boots gives him extra lift, while the fire flower is replaced with a flame thrower.
Yoshi's appearance is that of a more realistic dinosaur than his cute, kid-friendly design.
Mario and Luigi's iconic overalls are never seen. Instead, they don jumpsuits with similar color patterns.
Super Mario Bros. is widely reviled as a terrible movie for its cheap production values, incoherent and absurd plot and characters, and an almost complete lack in faithfulness to the source material. The principle actors, Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, and Dennis Hopper, were all publicly critical of the film and their involvement in it. However, the lessons taught by the film's production largely failed to take, as Super Mario Bros. was followed in later years by similarly poor video game adaptations such as Street Fighter and Double Dragon.