Monday, February 15, 2016

Movie Review: Pixels

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Very fun and creative 80’s video game nostalgia
Cons: Very immature main characters
The Bottom Line:
Video game film
Brought down by immature cast
Once and done movie

Wonderful Idea Brought Down by Antics of the Cast

Usually, when I see a preview for a disaster or alien invasion flick, I pass on it.  That genre just isn’t my thing.  I feel the same when I see a preview for an Adam Sandler flick since the previews for those usually annoy me.  But I had to make an exception for Pixels.  A film with classic video games – the games I grew up playing – come to life?  I knew I had to watch it.  Sadly, it wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be.

Back in the 80’s, Brenner was one of the top video game players of the era thanks to his innate ability to recognize the patterns in the games.  However, that didn’t translate to a well-paying job as the Brenner of today (Adam Sandler) makes his living installing home theater and electronics equipment.

However, one day the US Naval base in Guam is attacked by a mysterious enemy, and Brenner’s best friend Cooper (Kevin James), who also happens to be President of the United States, calls on Brenner for help.  He recognize the pattern for what it is, Galaga.  With help from conspiracy nut Ludlow (Josh Gad) and his old video game nemesis Eddie (Peter Dinklage), he must help repel attacks from an alien force using 1982 video games against us.  Can this unlikely group of geeks succeed?

I had to smile as each new video game enemy was revealed.  These were some of my favorite games as a kid, and I could spend hours playing them on my Atari 2600.  (I didn’t spend as much time in arcades playing the real games, but I loved my Atari.)  There are some great lines based on that nostalgia, and the battles were great.  Heck, the fight against Pac-Man alone will make any member of my generation smile.

However, the nostalgic fun was covered in the haze of usual Adam Sandler immaturity.  The main characters are just what you’d picture if you’ve seen one of his movies (or the previews) with the typical immature but supposed to be funny antics, and the movie is filled with PG-13 level sexual jokes.  I often found these parts painful to watch; I certainly didn’t find them funny, and the very little bit of predictable character development we got wasn’t enough to save this aspect of the movie.  I will give the actors credit for being good in their various roles, I just didn’t like the characters.

I was very impressed with the effects.  Naturally, there were a lot of them in the film, and they were very well done.  I especially appreciated the fact that the effects for the video game characters were very blocky, perfectly representing the level of graphics we had back in the day.

Do I regret watching Pixels?  Not in the least.  I think anyone who enjoyed playing the video games of the 80’s is going to want to watch it at some point for the pure nostalgia of it.  However, the immature characters will keep me from rewatching the film.

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