What Do Japanese Fans Think of the Super Mario Bros. Movie?

A question I’ve gotten recently from a number of readers is: “What do Japanese fans think of the American Super Mario movie?”

I don’t really have much info on how it was initially received since that was like, what, 20 something years ago, but last year it was released on DVD in Japan, so I’ve collected some reactions from that. More recently, Bob Hoskins, who played Mario in the movie, passed away. I’ve taken comments from a variety of Japanese articles about that as well.

After the DVD release was announced in 2013:

What a weird time to release it after it’s been so long

People want to pretend this never existed? I didn’t know that. It was pretty good, in my opinion.

God-like DVD thanks Nintendo

Congrats

Don’t care

I remember the shock when I first saw Koopa

Hey, it was pretty good, actually. I watched it when I was a kid.

What the hell? Is that a Super Scope?
 

I think I’ll watch this on my Wii U

This movie taught me that Bob-ombs can climb walls

Huh? It’s still never been on DVD until now?

I didn’t know everyone looked so down on it… I actually like it a lot.

This was only on VHS all this time?

Nintendo must be hurting if they need to sell this now

So, wait, Mario’s home base is in Brooklyn?

This takes me back, lol

This was a good movie.

Isn’t this the movie that had crazy ghost stuff happening in it?

I wish they’d release a box set of the live-action Mario TV show they had overseas. And they had a Zelda anime series too.

Is there even any demand for this?

I absolutely loved this. It had no Mario-ness to it, but it had respect. The bad guys were dinosaurs that evolved into humans, but not all of them were bad. Traitors would get modification surgery, as I recall. I’d like to see the jump shoes and such again. Maybe I’ll buy a copy of this.

In modern terms, this is like the live-action Dragon Ball movie.

I think it was a decent movie. I heard it wasn’t originally meant to be a Mario movie.

It may be shunned but it’ll always have a place in my heart.

I wish they’d also do a Legend of Zelda: The Future. 20XX: the Master Sword travels through time to the present day. Please make it happen

I have this on LaserDisc

This takes me back. I saw it on the way back from a school field trip. I remember it being really exciting.

They used to advertise this all the time on the old Super Mario Club show. All I remember is Yoshi being an ordinary old monster.

I remember this being pretty good.

Better than Mario stuff these days

I recorded this off of the TV way back. I hate Mario games but I liked this movie.

I hardly remember it at all except that it’s pretty good if you view it as a parody movie.

Whoa, he’s using a Super Scope! I didn’t think foreigners knew about that

This brings back memories! I watched this so much that the tape wore out. I’m surprised at the awesome cast now that I look at it!

Who asked for this?

After Bob Hoskins’ Death in 2014:

Never heard of this movie

The fact you’ve never heard of this movie is hard to believe. It’s infamously, historically bad.

Game over

I recall the movie being more interesting than the actual games

Someone stop Nintendo’s devolution!

What the heck? That’s one crazy Yoshi. It looks like it could be a T-rex.

Nintendo should just let Mario rest already

Rest in peace

Yoshi was just a straight-up reptile creature, while Koopa was a human…

I bet a live-action Zelda nowadays could do better than this.

The curse of Nintendo

Whoa, this takes me back! I remember finding it recorded on one of our VHS tapes for some reason and was like, “Whoa, what is this?!”

He shouldn’t have gotten involved with Mario

Why are you bringing up Mario? Bob Hoskins won the Cannes award for Mona Lisa and stuff

I saw this Mario when I was a kid but I was extremely confused by it.

I think they could make a decent Mario movie if they let Disney handle the CG.

The bad guys were so gross that I was traumatized as a kid. The Bob-ombs were cute, though.

May he rest in peace.

This is a pointless article.

Reviews:

Review-wise, it looks like scores are all over the place. It’s highly-rated on some sites, but poorly-rated on others. At this review site the movie has low scores from a lot of reviewers:

On Amazon, the DVD is pretty decently rated, though:

On other sites, it’s got an okay rating:

In summary, it looks like opinions about the movie are all over the place. I was actually expecting Japanese reviews and opinions of the movie to be extremely scathing, so I’m pleasantly surprised at the amount of positive reception I’ve seen about it!

You know, I haven’t seen the movie in a long, long time, so I’m not sure what I think about it anymore. Maybe I should check it out in Japanese now that it’s on DVD and see what got changed, if anything!

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37 comments

  1. So this never got a DVD release in Japan until now.

    Meanwhile, I own a Japanese release of the Street Fighter film… with Japanese dubbed audio. Guile sounds more American in the dub than in English.

    Reply
    1. Keiji Inafune Fake

      Considering Guile’s looked as an American stereotype more in Japan, this doesn’t surprise me too much

      Reply
  2. I’m surprised that so many people said such positive things about it! TBH, I really liked the film as a kid even though it didn’t feel like Mario at all and I still have a soft spot for it…

    Bob Hoskins did so many better things, though.

    Reply
  3. Wait, Bob Hoskins died?! When did that happen? And how?

    Also, i loled when one of the comments compared it to the Dragonball movie.

    Reply
  4. They used to play this on Disney Channel a lot at one point, and I thought it was okay for a really dumb action movie. Like it’s bad for a Mario adaptation, but it’s such a dumb 90’s action movie that I find it hard to say it was terrible.

    Reply
  5. Opinionated Vector Chimera

    Japanese people react to Super Mario Bros. Movie:

    After the DVD release was announced in 2013: mostly positive reception
    After Bob Hoskins’ Death in 2014: lol what is this crap?

    Reply
    1. Eh, it’s pretty natural that Hoskins fans aren’t going to be all that happy that an article talking about his death spends time on an extremely panned movie Hoskins himself has gone on record saying he hates instead of talking about the stuff he SHOULD be remembered for.

      Reply
  6. ZettaiRyouiki

    Wait, apparently the movie has a subtitle in Japan! Something like “Demon Empire’s Goddess” or stuff like that. Awesome!

    Reply
    1. Japanese title is “Super Mario: Goddess of the Demon World Empire” (スーパーマリオ魔界帝国の女神)

      Reply
  7. Yatt "Uno10" Zach

    Fun fact: The people that directed this movie were behind the Max Headroom character in the 80s. No joke:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocky_Morton
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annabel_Jankel

    “[SMB] was a fuckin’ nightmare. The whole experience was a nightmare. It had a husband-and-wife team directing, whose arrogance had been mistaken for talent. After so many weeks their own agent told them to get off the set! Fuckin’ nightmare. Fuckin’ idiots.” — Bob Hoskins ( http://www.theguardian.com/film/2007/aug/03/2 )

    “It was a nightmare, very honestly, that movie. It was a husband-and-wife directing team who were both control freaks and wouldn’t talk before they made decisions. Anyway, I was supposed to go down there for five weeks, and I was there for 17. It was so over budget.” — Dennis Hopper ( http://www.avclub.com/article/random-roles-dennis-hopper-2549 )

    “It’s eight-year-olds who play the game and that’s where the movie needed to be aimed. But [the directors] kept trying to insert new material. They shot scenes with strippers and with other sexually-explicit content, which all got edited out anyway.” — John Leguizamo ( http://www.armchairarcade.com/neo/node/1201 )

    What’s surprising to me is that:

    1. The people who made Max turned out to be gigantic egotistical assholes (especially surprising considering that I kinda like the character and shows)
    2. They wanted to make the movie more “adult-oriented” than it was ever meant to be.

    But yeah, that’s my two cents on the whole ordeal. Never actually seen the movie for myself, only heard stuff about it on the Internet.

    Reply
    1. Game Informer actually had a informative article covering the drama behind the production of the Super Mario Bros Movie. Wish I could remember which issue it was.

      Reply
  8. The movie is fun to watch because it’s an unholy, messy acid trip of a movie. You can practically see the hectic production history reflected in the final movie.

    What’s especially sad is that if they hadn’t cut so much stuff out of the final movie and hadn’t kept re-writing it even in post (seriously, they were having arguments over stuff like whether or not they should have a gag where the Goombas speak with subtitles), it may have been a pretty decent enough movie despite it’s lack of ties to Mario.

    What makes ME sad that is that in the very beginning the movie was supposed to be an 80s-style fantasy movie, complete with mushrooms, castles, airships, Piranha Plants, Chain Chomps and Thwomps. Then that draft got thrown out when the original director jumped off, then Rocky & Annabell came on board and…well, you know the rest.

    Reply
  9. Rest in peace, Mario/Smee/Eddie Valiant. You will be missed.
    “No no no no. He’s Mario Mario. I’m Luigi Mario!” “Take the ‘Mario Brothers’ to their cell!” That bit made me laugh far more than it really should have. I feel so ashamed. Maybe it was the goofy delivery. XD Although I honestly think Bob Hoskins did a better job than the guy who played Luigi. (And I’m not just saying that to avoid speaking ill of the dead; I really do think Hoskins did the better job of the two.)

    Reply
      1. Dah, right. I thought that was his name, but I wasn’t totally sure (and I often completely botch the spelling of his last name). But yeah, that sounds right.
        I wonder if Luigi from the Super Show might have been a better choice…hah. I liked the dynamic that him and Captain Lou Albano as Mario happened to have on that show. (Or I’m just amused easily, but that’d be nothing new for me! XD)

        Reply
  10. Bob Hoskins, to me, is Eddie from Who Framed Roger Rabbit above all else. I know he absolutely LOATHED his work on this movie, being drunk during production.

    From a lot of perspectives, this movie is pretty bad, and justly considered as such. However, there’s this popular secret a lot of people have. Most of my friends will tell me “I know it’s bad but… I kinda like it.”

    My secret? Yeah, the same thing. It’s bad, it’s really bad, and the production was a mess, but there’s still a lot of entertainment to be had in this train wreck. I enjoy it every now and then, and if it’s on Bluray, I would like to pick it up. If there’s one thing I keep in my “head cannon” from this movie, it’s Mario and Luigi’s last name. That whole bit was actually genuinely funny, and made a twisted sort of SENSE when you consider they’re the “Mario Bros.”. I keep that one close to my heart, and there’s no real danger of doing so since Nintendo themselves seem content to never actually give any of their characters a last name.

    Reply
  11. You know, given this talk of Bob Hoskins hating his role in the Mario Bros Movie, it reminds of an old rumor about one of the Super Mario Bros Super Show DVD releases. Allegedly, there was a commentary recording session that was never used, in which Lou Albano spoke in depth about how much he hated the show. Supposedly, he was drunk at the time as well. I’m guessing the rumor is false as I can’t seem to find any evidence for it, but who knows.

    Reply
      1. That’s a good find! Captain Lou seems like a really cool, down to earth guy in that interview. And you’re right, he definitely gives the impression that he enjoyed working on the Super Show while discussing it. Seems the rumor was just bunk then, which isn’t terribly surprising.

        Reply
  12. Lots of funny stuff in this article.

    “Whoa, he’s using a Super Scope! I didn’t think foreigners knew about that” – Actually, North America and Europe got more Super Scope games than Japan did! Metal Combat’s probably the most notable one, since it’s a first party game. Tin Star was Nintendo-published as well. Most of the third party Super Scope games weren’t developed in Japan.

    “I wish they’d release a box set of the live-action Mario TV show they had overseas. And they had a Zelda anime series too.” – I’ve seen Aladdin included in a list of 2ch’s favourite anime music. I guess it’s a general term for cartoons that we’ve made into a more specific term. I’ve also heard that ‘tokusatsu’ can be used to refer to shows like Star Trek, though it’s normally associated with Kamen Rider or Power Rangers type stuff in Western use.

    Reply
    1. You’re right, in Japan, “anime” is just short for “animation” (アニメーション animēshon), and refers to animated cartoons in general.

      Reply
  13. Great article. I don’t know why it always surprises me that Japanese opinions are so similar to Western ones but it does.

    Reply
  14. So the Japanese DVD cover gave a slight focus to the “WE’RE MERGING!” scene (the scene where Koopa and Mario find themselves disintergrating). Interesting.

    Reply
  15. “HE’S GOT A BOB-OMB!”

    I love this movie, in the “so bad it’s good” kind of way. Same reason I enjoy Street Fighter, or The Core.

    But as a kid, I was supremely disappointed when I realized it wasn’t a 90-minute episode of the Mario 3 and Mario World cartoons. That was kind of the beginning and end of my critical review. The fact that we only saw it because Jurassic Park was sold out didn’t help.

    I did like those jump boots, though.

    Reply
  16. “Maybe I should check it out in Japanese now that it’s on DVD and see what got changed, if anything!”

    Yes, please!

    Reply
  17. Johnny LoveFive

    You do of course realize that Donkey Kong was Mario’s original debut, with his name being named after Nintendo of America’s landlord at the time, thus he was named from America, while “born” in Japan- rather odd way to do it from Jumpman to NOA landlord…

    Anyway, Mario is super loved by Japan, FAAAAR more than America, whatever gets made, they’ll eat up and love. It’s like anime here. America loves anime and eats it up, even if Japanese don’t like it. It’s something about not being the usual stuff to that native land that makes it seem fresh, exciting, and great. Too bad they don’t realize better Mario movie could have been made…

    Reply

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