August 6, 2015

Movie Review: Pixels

Pixels.... here is a movie I am not going to spend much time on. While I have definitely seen worse movies this year, that is not saying much. I think the worst thing is that from the time I saw the trailer right on up through its release until I was able to see it, I was a defender of Pixels. I thought it looked like a fun summer movie based on a pretty solid idea. Unfortunately, now that I have seen the movie, I can no longer defend it. I still think the idea is a good one, but the execution is just terrible. Pixels is not a good movie, it is lazy and boring.

There was a time when I liked Adam Sandler movies, but that time seems to be long gone and Sandler appears to be working very hard to make sure that I do not like them anymore. The recycled jokes, the disinterest in his attitude, these are just a couple of things that work against Sandler and Pixels. It is almist like they came up with this great idea, but when it came time to actually right it, they just kind of threw up their hands and decided to wing it. Winging it doesn't work, just watch the movie if you don't believe me.

Pixels is similar to Terminator: Genisys in that both films are banking on nostalgia to work in place of any actual development. The team behind Genisys must have felt that putting a twist on many scenes from the original 1984 film is all they needed to do to hold interest. With Pixels they banked on classic videogame characters appearing in the real world to handle to audience interaction for them. They were wrong.

The basic idea is that the 1982 video game championships were recoreded and included in a time capsule sent into space in the hopes that alien life would be receptive of a message of peace. Well, they saw it as a threat of war and responded in kind, creating the video games in the real world and sending them to attack Earth. The only people capable of repelling this attack, you guessed it, the 1982 video game champions. These fine folks are played by Adam Sandler, Josh Gad, and Peter Dinklage. Also along for the ride is Sandler's childhood friend, and now POTUS, Kevin James, and military officer Michelle Monaghan. Together they must fight the video game threat.

Great idea, but the writing fails us at all turns. There are the basic issues of incorporating post-1982 elements that stretch basic believability, to slightly bigger issues such as having the heroes play the playable character except when it comes to Pac-Man, where they play the ghosts. Then there are the really big issues like having at least somewhat interesting characters and a reason to really care about them. Frankly, I was bored. The jokes felt as old as the video games, recycled bits that were well past their expiration date delivered by a cast that seemed mostly uninterested in what was happening, except for Josh Gad who liked to yell at everything.

Pixels sets itself up as a fun looking movie, but that is where it ends. The movie is a triumph of high concept and marketing. The movie itself fails at just about every turn. Sure, I loved seeing Pac-Man and Centipede and Donkey Kong in the real world, but that is as far as it goes. This is a movie that is big in idea and light on intelligence and execution. It lacks heart, soul, and any reason to really care. Not much to miss if you choose to skip it.

Not Recommended.

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