A group of dedicated fans have banded together to restore a 1980s Super Mario Bros anime movie. Released the year after the original Super Mario Bros, the movie has been painstakingly restored in 4K, complete with a visual overhaul, reworked audio track, and more.
How has this Super Mario Bros movie been restored?
Unlike Mario's rather unpopular 1993 cinematic outing, the movie that's being restored here is a Japanese animation. Titled Super Mario Bros: The Great Mission To Rescue Princess Peach!, there are no prizes for guessing what the plot is about, but it seems to hew far closer to the essence of what Super Mario Bros was. The movie has only been available on VHS until now, but a group of fans have got together in order to lovingly restore it in 4K so that you can watch it in all its surreal glory. You can check out a trailer that shows a "before and after" of the restoration right here (warning: it's pretty wild).
Here's how it went down. Super Mario Bros fan Carnivol (these are, obviously, pseudonyms) got his hands on a 16mm print back in 2016 and wanted to restore it, but hit a snag along the way. Five years later, in 2021, he made a deal with YouTuber FemboyFilms to restore the print based on the scan Carnivol had. Fellow fans Quazza and Nemu removed dust, dirt, and scratches from the print, removing "thousands of individual pieces of debris". The movie was color-corrected using promotional materials for reference, although much of the visual inconsistency between shots was kept as "it's just how it was made".
Two more fans by the names of Tanks and Nappasan created a new audio capture based on the original VHS release of the movie, creating "the best audio quality this movie has ever seen". In addition, a brand new subtitle track was made for the movie, improving on an already-existing translation. The movie contains several songs, which Nemu translated anew, with help from a scan of the original vinyl lyric booklet by fan MartyMcflies. Translation work was done by Nappasan alongside a user calling themselves Bluesun, while another user named SakoeraTyan worked on title styling. As you can see, this was a huge collaborative effort between several Super Mario Bros and old-school movie fans, and I have to say that the work they've done here is remarkable. You can view the full, hour-long movie over on the FemboyFilms YouTube channel. It's well worth your time.
Video game movies have a patchy history
While this whimsical effort reflects the nascent state of the gaming industry in the 1980s, attempts to turn games into movies haven't always fared so well. More recent efforts like Uncharted, Tomb Raider, and Monster Hunter have been met with mediocre reviews and a lukewarm fan reaction at best, and that's not to mention the atrocious offerings of Uwe Boll. Despite this, however, the movie industry isn't looking to stop adapting games any time soon. There's a movie adaptation of recent co-op indie hit It Takes Two in the works, and wrestling superstar-turned-actor Dwayne Johnson is also teasing a movie based on one of "the most badass games" around. It's a safe bet that Johnson's effort likely won't match the freewheeling surrealism of The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach!.
Of course, the movie industry does occasionally have major successes with gaming movies. The recently-released Sonic the Hedgehog 2, which features Knuckles and Tails alongside the Blue Blur, managed to break box office records for video game movies in its opening weekend. It's a more considered production that actually seems to take the franchise's legacy into account, which is also what fans are hoping for from the Super Mario movie that's currently in the works. It's set to star Chris Pratt as Mario, with Jack Black as Bowser, Charlie Day as Luigi, and Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong, among others. The high-profile cast, alongside the fact that the movie will be animated, inspire hope that it won't be as laughably ridiculously awful as the aforementioned 1993 Bob Hoskins outing, but we'll have to wait and see, of course.
Regardless of what's going on with gaming and movies, FemboyFilms' restoration of Super Mario Bros: The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach! deserves your attention. You can become a Patron for the channel if you like, or you can throw a Ko-Fi donation their way. Either way, make sure to check out the restoration, because it really is astonishingly good work, especially since the restorers had to pool their resources together from such disparate sources. Long may fan devotion continue.