Film review – Pixels



Action comedy starring Adam Sandler, Kevin James and Peter Dinklage, about an alien invasion with a difference.

Adam Sandler’s like a low-rent Woody Allen : he’s rich, famous and Jewish; he’s very powerful in Hollywood; he’s worked with some of the biggest names in the industry; he has his own exclusive production company; he rarely strays too far from the tried and tested; and you either love him or loathe him.

Personally, I like him.
When I watch one of his movies, I can detach myself from reality for a couple of hours and enjoy being a kid again. Like Robin Williams, he has a carefree, childlike sensibility when it comes to making movies for the most part – though both have made more serious pictures. Like Seth MacFarlane, he appeals to the lowest common denominator yet I suspect he has a far wider audience appeal, possibly of the secret “watch it on DVD/NetFlix” variety. Like Will Smith, he has a keen interest in sci-fi and one foot firmly stuck in the 80s.
With a Happy Madison production, you know you’re gonna laugh, you know the music’s gonna rock and you know there’ll be enough offensive jokes to cover pretty much every part of society. You also know you need to lighten up and just enjoy the ride … you don’t have to be serious every day, do you ?


Pixels is like a grown-up version of Wreck It Ralph in that it’s all about the games, only this time round those games are real. The credits are like a veritable Who’s Who of the videogame industry since its inception in the mid-70s and for that alone nerds of all ages will be united. If you’re a parent and you owned a Binatone or went to the arcades, you’re gonna love this. If you’re a kid and you own a console, you’re gonna love this. Even if you’re a reluctant or “unaware that you qualify” gamer – and I’m looking at you Facebook farmers and crushers when I say that – then you’re secretly gonna love this.

Since originally meeting at the World Videogame Championships when they were kids, the four main protagonists have gone their separate ways: one installs TVs and audio equipment for a living, one still lives in his mother’s basement, one is in prison and the other .. well, let’s just say he’s done very well for himself, shall we ? But it isn’t Sandler.
Our hero – surprise, surprise – is actually a bit of an everyman loser.
He never really amounted to much and he’s bitter about a few things that happened along his own personal rocky road, but he’s still out there, fighting, like the all-American boy that he is.


Then .. the aliens arrive. One night, over Guam, there appear wave upon wave of space fighters, destroying everything in their path, leaving nothing but pixelated destruction behind them. The waves weren’t random though .. they appear to be mirroring the attack formations of the 80s arcade classic, Galaga.
We have no defence.
The US airbase is ripped to shreds and the military are left scratching their heads.
Who’re they gonna call ?
It just so happens one man in power knows what’s going on and he makes a call and .. well, let’s just say things develop rather quickly after that and earth fights back.

I won’t say any more about the plot other than to point out it features Centipede, Pacman, Donkey Kong, Frogger, Q-Bert, Tetris and even Super Mario himself ..


This is, to all intents and purposes, a real life cartoon.
The graphics and effects are absolutely breathtaking – especially in 3D – and the blocky, 8-bit enemies are rendered flawlessly and even when destroyed, the resultant smaller blocks are seamlessly dropped onto the real world as realistically as if it were all a dream.
There’s loads of in-jokes for gamers of all generations, plenty of big action set-pieces, yet also some decent dialogue and cheeky interplay between the characters.

I suspect this might well be a “dads and lads” movie on paper, but that’s not to say it doesn’t work as a family film as well. I saw it at an exclusive members preview at my local Cineworld and the place was packed: little kids were there along with a surprisingly even split between the sexes. It actually reminded me of being a child myself for more than just what was happening on screen : the high-pitched giggling and laughing all around really took me back to what it was like to be taken to the cinema when you’re young. That sense of wonder, the size of the screen, the full-on surround sound .. and 3D glasses, too ?!

This is a blast, in every sense of the word.

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