I remember being caught up in the hype around Super Mario Bros. 3 and playing it obsessively when it released back in 1990, and I have vague memories of being similarly hyped for the movie The Wizard. In the days before the Internet the movie provided a glimpse of one of the most highly anticipated Nintendo releases ever, so despite its weak plot the movie did fairly well at the box office. I'd been putting off having to spend time with it, but my curiosity won out and I finally watched it not too long ago.

The movie isn't terrible, but it's definitely not much more than a movie-length commercial for the NES and Universal Studios. There's a "pinball wizard" type of main character, Fred Savage and Christian Slater as his half-brothers, and a feisty "wise beyond her years" love interest. The actors take a definite back seat to the gameplay that is shown which includes bits from popular and now-classic NES games (many third party) such as Ninja Gaiden and Double Dragon. The obscure accessory the Power Glove also makes an infamous appearance accompanied by a now-classic quote, "I love the Power Glove. It's so bad."

Thirty (!!!) years later, the movie does tickle the nostalgic parts of my brain, and overall it wasn't a complete waste of time. The movie's climax is the "Video Armageddon" tournament in California, and the Super Mario 3 footage is still satisfying to see. It's also fun to review the long list of video game related goofs in the film. It's been fun to see Nintendo themselves put on their own "Wizard"-like video game tournaments in more recent years, and although I don't think I have any need to ever see it again, The Wizard is definitely a must-watch for Nintendo fans, if just for its historic significance.


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