In 1993, a landmark movie was released. Sure, Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List were important, but what could have more cultural resonance than Super Mario Bros? Of course, a movie based on the most successful video game franchise in history up to that point would be a smash hit. Add in Bob Hoskins, the star of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and Academy Award nominee Dennis Hopper, and you couldn’t fail.
Except you could, because the movie was an unmitigated disaster.
It has an incoherent plot, and feels like someone shredded a couple movie scripts, and then tried to piece one script together out of the confetti. On top of that, the movie has only the faintest resemblance to anything that was ever in a Mario game. All the cartoonish whimsy is drained out, leaving a dull, dark slog.
Not many movies based on video games since then have fared much better. 1994’s Street Fighter has Raúl Juliá’s wonderful final performance as a scenery-chewing villain, but little else good. 1995’s Mortal Kombat enjoyed a bit of popularity for the dance music on its soundtrack. Past that, the best that can be said about most video game movies are that they’re unremarkable.
Last week, a movie based on Pokemon was released - Detective Pikachu. It isn’t a straight adaptation of any of the games, but neither does it discard everything interesting about Pokemon. Instead, it uses the Pokemon world to tell a story that is familiar, but also couldn’t be done in quite the same way without Pokemon.
Later this year, a Sonic the Hedgehog movie will be released. I’m a Sonic fan, but this strikes me as a bad idea. The trailer came out recently, and unfortunately, it looks a little more Super Mario Bros and a little less Detective Pikachu.