Let's get one thing out of the way. Super Mario Bros. isn't a GREAT movie... Nor is it even remotely related to the Mario games in any way except for names and references. But hear me out: Super Mario Bros.: The Movie is actually a good movie, and I really enjoyed it.
I watched this movie with my fiance. Her and I enjoy watching bad movies together - things like "Birdemic", "Things", and "A Talking Cat!?!" After hearing how asinine and ridiculous this movie was, it was on our short list of date movies, so we downloaded it, hopped on Skype, and watched it at the same time from different ends of the planet, as we normally do (she's Aussie, I'm Canadian).
We expected something stupid, something poorly made, and something that was a general product of incompetence made by people trying to cash in on the video game craze of the early 90's. Instead, we viewed a very good film - and if you, like I, enjoy pre-CG special effects and incredible art design, you'll love this movie.
About two years ago, I read an article in Game Informer about the making of this film. It had passed through several studios, directors and writers, and wound up being created by far too many different people, and that certainly shows here. The first 45 minutes or so of the movie are... Really bad. It's slow, the acting is terrible, and there's all of zero sign of a plot. Where the movie really gets interesting, however, is when the story moves to the dinosaur world.
I'm fairly convinced that the finished product is actually two different movies stapled together - the switch from the two different universes in quite jarring. Where it starts as low-budget bullshit, it eventually evolves into something much greater, and something that definitely had some effort put into it. Somehow, the minds behind this film created this wonderful, dystopian world of evolved dinosaurs, but it's really hard to describe where it works so well. The effects are... Incredible. The creatures look REAL, probably because they're puppets and animatronics instead of that fake-ass CGI shit. The costume designs are appropriately weird and otherworldly, while still having a "street fashion" kinda vibe. The world is filled with neon lights, propaganda posters, and fungal overgrowth. For all the hatred this movie gets for straying from the source material... Dinosaur World is a much, MUCH better setting for a video game than the Mushroom Kingdom.
I also have to credit the action and the humour in this movie, too. While the first half(ish) is filled with idiotic slapstick (as was the style with 90's kids' movies), again, everything improves in the second act. I actually died laughing during a scene where Luigi started swaying the "goomba" troops back and forth to the rhythm of elevator music, at which point they all started dancing. There are also some great one-liners to be had, as well as a handful of "so bad it's good" quotes. Some of the action scenes were really fun and creative too - one that really stuck out for me was near the end, where a bunch of human characters rode a soiled mattress down a frozen pipe while being followed by "goombas" (also riding a mattress). The creature effects for Yoshi were especially awesome too. :D
So anyway, before getting too wordy, I highly suggest giving the movie a watch. As I mentioned before, it's very evident that two different sets of people worked on this movie - and whoever handled the second half did an amazing job. It's not the best movie in the world, and it's most certainly not a good Mario adaptation, but it's watchable, highly enjoyable and has some outstanding imagery. Plus, if you're an effects fan like me, you'll find a lot to love in Super Mario Bros. Overall, I'd give the movie a solid 8/10. It was quite good! Just be prepared to sit through a painfully boring first act.
Oh, and watch this video:
Open the door, get on the floor, everybody walk the dinosaur.