The 1993 movie adaptation of Super Mario Bros. is a fascinating example of how a film can take huge swings and still be embraced by fans. While the movie was a flop at the time, it has since become a cult classic, with fans admiring the ambitious attempts of the filmmakers to bring the world of Mario to life.
Desmond Thorne, a film programmer at Nitehawk, has discussed the film’s appeal, noting that “in an age when we’re inundated with video game and comic book adaptations that take a more literal approach, it’s refreshing to look back at ‘Super Mario Bros.’ 30 years later. You have to admire the huge swings that it took.”
The movie was riddled with problems from the start, with Disney purchasing the distribution rights and demanding a rewrite of the screenplay just 10 days before principal photography began. Despite the issues, the movie is a fantastic and inspired mess with densely artificial sets, cartoonish costumes, a lunatic score by Alan Silvestri, and creature designs by Patrick Tatopoulos that anticipate his work on “Independence Day”.
The Super Mario Bros. The Movie Archive has been instrumental in celebrating the movie. Created by Ryan Hoss in 2007 when he was in college, the website was “a place to get as much of the background and history of the film out in the open.” Since then, Hoss and editor in chief Steven Applebaum have tracked down alternate versions of the script, set photos, props, and published numerous interviews with crew members. Most recently, they uncovered and restored an early work print of the film, creating an extended edition available to watch online.
Whether you’re a fan or not, it’s hard to deny that 1993’s Super Mario Bros. is an important piece of movie history. Despite its flaws, the movie was a brave attempt to bring the world of Mario to life, and it still stands as a testament to the power of artistic license.