‘Pixels’ Review: Falls Short of Reaching Its Potential

In 1982, humans sent a capsule into space with samples of our culture and way of life, including video games. What was meant to be a message of peace from Earth was taken as a declaration of war towards extraterrestrials. Fast forward 33 years later and aliens have sent real life videos games to destroy earth. Humanity’s only hope rest in a couple video game champion kids from the 80’s era now grown up.

Adam Sandler stars as Sam Brenner, Pac-Man champion in ’82. Josh Gad stars as Ludlow Lamonsoff, Centipede champion in ’82. Peter Dinklage stars as Eddie Plant, Donkey Kong champion in ’82. Together they are recruited by their childhood friend and now President of the United States Will Cooper (Kevin James) and a military Colonel (Michelle Monaghan) to combat the video games they once conquered.

Pixels is based off the 2010 award winning short film by Patrick Jean. The idea and story concept for Pixels made for a blockbuster flick with such high potential. The video games some of us grew up watching our parents love and play start attacking Earth sounded cool. It was a departure from the normal aliens and zombies invasion flicks, with that added nostalgia. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t live up to that potential.

First off, I will give credit to director Chris Columbus (HP: Chamber of Secrets) for attempting to give us something fresh and exciting. The action sequences with the video games are fun to watch as Sandler and company combats them like one would in a video game, but it ultimately lacks that wow factor I was hoping to get. There are a few moments that’ll make you chuckle, like a smurf getting gunned down and Q-Bert’s interaction with the humans, but you’ll mostly be waiting for something incredible to happen.

Outside of the action lies a mess among the story and characters. Granted, a film like this doesn’t require much of a story, it just needs to make sense, and it barely does. The plot development is lazy and as thin as a sheet of paper. The actors we care about are given one note characters.

Michelle Monaghan’s character is dull and isn’t given much to do. Peter Dinklage was my most anticipated character from this film, and while he was funny he also wasn’t given much to do. Josh Gad must have gotten a few pointers from Kevin Hart on the set of The Wedding Ringer, because he was constantly yelling and talking loud. All that being said, if we’re talking about performances it really comes down to just two actors both you and I are concerned about going in, Adam Sandler and Kevin James.

Surprisingly, both actors gave a performance I thought was an improvement from their recent stinkers. Sandler is still phoning it in at times, but not at the level I feared. Kevin James….. probably gave the best performance of the film, and he just might have been the funniest. Their performances are certainly not as annoying to watch as in the recent past.

A concern I had going into Pixels were the effects, and when I first watched the short film I was curious to see how they would pull it off. The end result was something commendable and neat, with the video games and destruction being mass quantity of pixel cubes. The effects wasn’t too far from a departure of the short film, which was something I appreciated.

The entertainment value is there, it just wasn’t as much as I hoped. The comedic dialogue between the characters is hit and miss. What was a cool and unique idea for the action, adventure, comedy genre was just okay.

On a personal note: I have to show this film some love for featuring the island of Guam, which is the origins of my family.

Pixels gets a 6.25 out of 10.

Share your thoughts on the film with us! Look for our conversation on this film on next week’s MTE Podcast.

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