Super Mario Bros.
Now, if I were tasked with the writing of a movie based on the Super Mario Brothers video games, especially in the 1990’s when games barely had a story at all, I’m not sure what I would do. I envision a fantasy-like story, where Mario must rescue a princess from an evil dragon. However, I have no idea where the writers of this film came up with this story. At no point in the movie does it stop being insanely bizarre, with its gross half-dinosaur/half-human creatures and future technology. The Mario Brothers and dinosaur people use guns, have flying cars and other crazy pieces of tech. The futuristic weaponry mixed with strange dinosaur people creates a crazy atmosphere that never seems to relent.
The movies performances are also crazy and over-the-top, especially that of Dennis Hopper. It has become obvious that the actors did not enjoy their time on the film, with both Hoskins and Leguizamo having mentioned that they heavily drank throughout the production, so the craziness of the performances almost seem like a coping mechanism for the actors. The performances are as bizarre as the rest of the movie, creating some meme-worthy lines of dialogue ("Mario Mario" and "Luigi Mario" is the first one that comes to mind). The performances almost compliment the acid trip that is the rest of the movie, which is what makes the film so hard to describe. Is it so bad it’s good? Or is it just bad? I think the movie is fun, so long as you are looking for something crazy and nonsensical, but certainly has no merit as a quality film.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
This movie feels like the writers saw The Matrix and decided they wanted something like that, but without any of the deeper philosophical issues and ideas about humanity and technology that The Matrix had. Tomb Raider keeps all the tight leather, sunglasses, flips and gun kata that The Matrix popularized, but gets rid of all the thought-provoking elements. Like a mix of all the flashy elements from The Matrix and Raiders of the Lost Ark, the movie is about as skin-deep as a film can get. There is no grand meaning to any of the work they are doing, no depth to any of the characters. The closest we get to depth is that Lara contemplates using the device to bring her father (Jon Voight) back from the grave, but the lackluster performance from Jolie keeps that scene from being meaningful.
For a movie like this, one with a bare-bones plot and no narrative depth to succeed, the action must be flashy and interesting for the audience to forget that what’s happening doesn’t matter. The film's action is so sloppy, however, that I was more distracted by how fake and messy everything looked than I was by it being impressive. The action is so obviously trying to emulate the feel of the video game, with Lara flipping all over the place and dual-wielding pistols, but the effect is far cornier than it is satisfying. The result of the film’s many issues is an empty but colorful disaster, the kind of movie that wishes it was more pleasing to the eye than it is.