Pixels: Cool Concept, Flawed Film
Adam SandlerJosh Gad...
In 1 Cinema
Although the very idea of watching 80’s video-game characters come to life on the big screen might hold a certain novelty, Pixels – starring iconic rom-com actor Adam Sandler – has transpired to be something of a disappointment.
Inspired by a 2010 short film, Pixels’ plot revolves around avid arcade-game geek, Sam Brenner (Sandler) and opens in 1982 with the lead losing the final of a video-games tournament in questionable fashion. At the same time, NASA launches a time capsule, of sorts, featuring a video transmission of the tournament showdown as well as other popular video-games, T.V shows and 80’s pop icons into space.
NASA’s attempt is misinterpreted decades later as an act of aggression and Earth is soon invaded by extra-terrestrials taking the form of classic arcade characters. With no one else to turn to for help, President Cooper (played Sandler-soldier, Kevin James) reaches out to his best bud, Brenner – now an underachieving software-installation worker – to channel his gaming skills to fight off the invasion.
Despite its slick visual effects, the general comic outlook of Pixels is likely to only be appreciated by hard-core Adam Sandler loyalists. Directed by Chris Columbus – see The Goonies or first two Harry Potter films – and written by Happy Madison Productions’ very own Tim Herlihy, the film stars Michelle Monaghan, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad and Jane Krakowski – but despite the comic chops of the cast, the film never really uses them well.
Overall, Pixels seems like a nauseating jumble of creative ideas; unfocused and overfed, with very little innovation beyond the stunning visual effects – particularly those over London’s Hyde Park – the film has received largely negative reviews and we can’t help but agree. Granted, the sight of Pac-man ripping through a modern city is a spectacle unto itself; but there’s nothing behind the gimmick and it becomes very hard to engage with what you are seeing very quickly.
Despite this, there is no doubt that Pixels will still be a draw at the box-office. The idea and the potential is there, however, with Hollywood’s favourite man-child there to show us the way – yes, we’re looking at you Mr. Sandler – you can’t help but feel that this could have been something great, had it landed in someone else’s lap.