Sunday, August 30, 2015


Year: 2015
Director: Chris Columbus
Cast: Adam Sandler, Josh Gad, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Peter Dinklage, Brian Cox

Plot: Aliens misinterpret video feeds of 80s arcade games as a declaration of war and attack Earth in the form of those video games. The President calls up his childhood buddy, a former video game champion, to help him fight back and save the planet.

Review: If you were an 80s child, like I was, then you'd know some, if not all of the classic video games that you'll see in Pixels. If you were a gamer during your childhood, then this film will certainly be of great interest to you.

Pixels stars Adam Sandler as Brenner, who was a video game maestro back in 1982. In the present, he's a mere TV installer who is good friends with the president (Kevin James). One day, aliens invade the Earth in the form of classic 80s video games. Having misinterpreted messages featuring those games sent out to space back in 1982 as a declaration of war, they challenge Earth to a fight. The president is forced to call on Brenner and their mutual friend Ludlow (Josh Gad), both video game experts, to stop the aliens. Along the way they recruit Brenner's old rival Eddie Plant (Peter Dinklage), who beat Brenner at the world championships in 1982, for assistance.

Director Chris Columbus does a great job in making the well loved 80s video games be a character of their own in this film. While most of the time they turn out to be villains (including the popular Pac Man) some actually become good guys like Q*Bert. The visual effects depicting the games are top notch, making every battle scene a true highlight of the film. While the Pac Man chase is the most obvious favorite of most, I liked the Centipede battle in London.

Sandler and Dinklage are the best members of the cast, the former being a lot more tolerable than he usually is, dialing his style down a bit, the latter being the exact opposite of Tyrion Lannister. In fact, Dinklage is a riot here, being somewhat braggadocious and over the top, but it works. Michele Monaghan fills the requisite love interest role well enough while Brian Cox is quite funny as the comedic version of the army head who just wants to blow stuff up. Kevin James is just okay as the bumbling President, but Josh Gad is annoying most of the time as Ludlow, especially when he screams for no good reason.

Gad isn't the only problem here, as Sandler's brand of comedy is still present every now and then. Thankfully, Columbus manages to keep the film balanced and on track, so Sandler's regular immature hijinks don't become a hindrance.

Overall, Pixels is quite entertaining, even more so if you were a gamer back in the 80s. If not, you might still enjoy seeing stuff like Max Headroom, Hall & Oates, Madonna and even Fantasy Island on screen. Oh, and look out for cameos by Sean Bean and Serena Williams. (7/10)

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