Everyone says video games are bad for you as they are too violent or rot your mind. In Adam Sandler’s latest comedy, those comments have been magnified as a race of alien beings misinterpret a deep space satellite transmission as a declaration of war and have chosen classic arcade games as their soldiers. Yes my friends, my next review is on none other than Pixels, a movie that may be one of the most ridiculous adventures to grace the theater. Hi I’m Robbie K and you’re just in time for another review on the latest “comedy” release.
When you think of Adam Sandler, as well as the plot summary above, you might tag the comedian with words like ridiculous, stupid, immature, etc. Well that might be true, but let’s focus on some good qualities of his unique imagiantion. Pixels jumps back into the 80’s to bring nostalgic memories of the endangered arcades to nerds like me and amplifies to monstrous proportions. After a fun trip back in time, we jump to the modern day world where Sandler and his typical crew are again the oddballs in popular culture. This is where one of the positives comes in, and that is Sandler’s poking at the trends, stereotypes, and culture. I chuckled at the writer’s jabs at our government system, mocking their obsession with war, country strives, and glorification of the military. In a manner along the lines of Revenge of the Nerds, nerds are shown to be powerful, using predictability and practice as the mighty tools of defense. This tired and true story line has a nice refreshing twist using games as the medium, but the story is lacking in so many ways. Most stories running tangent to the main plot are very shallow, nothing more than predictable moments that center on wishes shared by our beloved arcaders. How the aliens saw this as a threat, what they looked like, heck even the reasoning of their choices were cut short to be dumped into the flood of jokes this movie is filled with.
Speaking of jokes, Pixels is more of Adam Sandler’s tactics of being kiddy, geeky, and somehow sweet at the same time. Pixels has loads of his overdramatic, throaty yelling, often partnered with a drawn out with someone rambling on and making a fool of themselves. Other characters were drawn in to the awkward vortex as well, Peter Dinkelage especially dropping into the ludicrous 80’s punk with a heavy accent that is more annoying than funny for me. However, I did enjoy some of the humor in this movie, especially witty quips at modern culture. Being a gamer myself I also laughed at a few of the gaming scenarios as well, despite many of them being ruined in the trailers. And yet… Pixels humor gets lost in the teams inability to realize enough is enough. Sandler and his crew take their jokes too far, and don’t let up until it is too late and the jokes are super stale that only kids will be cracking up at them. Because of this lack of balance, the movie’s humor really only stays consistently funny to kids, who we know can’t get enough of the things they love.
Let’s turn our attention to the game scenes now. Pixels art directors took an interesting path for this film, as they brought the pixelated warriors to life. Most of the soldiers look like high definition renditions of minecraft sprites, obviously designed to pop out of the screen in the 3-D viewings. The arcade games are colorful though, sporting the flashy vibrant hues and shades that caught our attentions all those years ago. Life is further imbued with the sound editing, the 8-bit bings, bongs, and other digital noises filling the high definition speakers and bringing you into the moment. The designers even translated the games 2-D movements into fluid 3-D excitement as the monsters and ships battle our real life defenders. As for the adventure itself, it’s okay. The battles with the light guns start out exciting, but it doesn’t take long before you realize it’s just repeated movements of our heroes shooting left and right with the enemies barely adapting their strategy. As the journey continues, the actions gets better as the situations get a dab of cleverness added them all with an arcade twist. But…they take the scenes too far, and cross into the overdramatic zone and lose its majesty. Exaggerated moves and simple comedy can’t beef up the sequences, or improve the movie for that matter. The only thing that might have helped was the kicking 80’s soundtrack that played throughout the movie, another fine moment of nostalgia.
Okay so Pixels isn’t the greatest movie ever, and it may be more of the same Sandler movie magic we’ve come to know. However, the movie is a fun trip back to a colorful time, and retro gamers will appreciate the references they make throughout the film. There isn’t much of a story and things do go stale from time to time, but I think younger audience members will enjoy the adventure to be had. Word of warning, this movie has some fair bit of cursing. My recommendations are to hold off on this movie, as despite the cool special effects, it is not worth the high price of a ticket. The scores are:
Movie Overall: 5.0