The passion in which people are bashing the new Adam Sandler film Pixels is not completely surprising. It is not surprising that people are tired of Adam Sandler films– or anything that comes from Happy Madison Productions. Sandler seems to be making movies just to make movies lately. He has jaded his one adoring and loving audience over time by doing nothing new. It is also not surprising that much of the critical backlash has little to do with the film and more to deal with the general Sandler-perception as a whole. As previously shown, much of it is warranted.
However, I feel that most of the audiences and critics aren’t giving the film a fair shake. I have read some reviews where they reviewer clearly hated the premise of the movie and therefore gave it a poor rating. A premise, I might add, that was quite clear from literally ANY trailer of the film. Other reviewers didn’t like the humor or complained about how certain plot points were not realistic.
Rather than other form my opinion for me, I decided to go see the movie for myself. And I enjoyed it. Was it the best film ever made? No. But was that the film’s intended goal? Also no. It was meant to be mindless entertainment with a crazy-ridiculous plot and a nostalgia factor for old and new gamers and geeks alike. In that sense, the film very clearly achieved it’s end goal. it was entertaining, funny, graphically pretty solid and gamer-geeks will generally enjoy all of the references.
Sam Brenner, a naturally gifted gamer enters a 1980(I don’t remember the exact year? 81?) gaming competition where stands out from the rest as a player who is great at “reading the patterns” of the games. When he loses to another, smaller gamer (the self-named “fireblaster”), Brenner is crushed and spends the rest of his life in misery until the present day where he works at a dead-end job for a generic GeekSquad.
Footage from this competition was sent out into space in a sort of time capsule for an alien race to see as a friendly welcoming. However, when an alien race finally does stumble upon it, they assume it is a declaration of war. The accept said declaration and send out a fleet of warriors stylized and rendered as the games seen in said time capsule.
Having massive amount of skills and experience with such games, Brenner is brought on to help thwart the alien invaders such as Pac Man, Centipede, Donkey Kong and many more!
Visually the movie is done very well, the graphics blend the old style pixelated games and real life people very well. They stand out (because they are awesome) but do not look out of place. The action sequences are also done very well, it is clear that they spent a solid amount of their budget on graphics. Which I definitely appreciate because graphically, this could have looked like a very poor film.
The characters were hit or miss for me, as they will be for a lot of people who generally hate Adam Sandler films. Michele Monoghan was surprisingly likable in this film and complemented Sandler’s style very well. Often not backing down from his rants or mean jokes, it was genuinely fun to see their back-and-forth banter. Their exchanges were probably my favorite during the film. Her character even helped design most of the weaponry and gear used by the “Arcaders”(The name of Sandler’s crew assigned to fight the aliens). Meaning that that her character was not meant to just be eye candy or a love interest– hooray.
Josh Gad was very funny also. He played a nervous conspiracy theorist nut turned world hero. The only thing I didn’t like about his character was his tendency to scream a bit too much? Other than that he had a solid music number (love you Olaaf!) and even put a bunch of muscle-bound Navy seals in their places!
Honestly, I really wanted Peter Dinklage to be amazing in this film…but he was just lackluster which (I assume) was poor writing and direction. His character was meant to be someone that you hated that eventually had a moment of redemption…. but by the time he gets his redemption, you thoroughly don’t like him so it honestly ceases to matter. Ah well, missed opportunity there…
You also feel sort of bad for Kevin Jame’s character who has no special gaming skills growing up–outside of the claw game. But still managed to grow up and become the President of the United States. He is heavily criticized in this role the whole film and gets little help from his friends in that regard…ahem…. other than saving the planet I guess…
Oh and before I forget… I really really wish they would have not shown the creator of pac man in the previews… it sort of ruined that moment for me… Had they not revealed this and waited until it came out in theaters it would have been an amazing experience!
I am trying to keep this review brief so here are my final thoughts:
The movie is not without it’s flaws. Jaded Sandler fans should stay away because you’re going to hate the film no matter what so why bother? The movie is meant to be mindless humor with an over-ridiculous plot and it has succeeded in executed that. Most of the characters are likable and the Sandler-Monoghan pairing was well done. I enjoyed the film and laughed a lot and I think most people willing to put their heavy heavy bias aside would do the same.
I am not going to go through all the rankings today– lets just call it a 7/10, I would definitely go see the film again!