Review by Nathan Miller
If you had any reservations on watching Pixels because of Adam Sandler being in it, nobody would disagree with your suspicions. It is unfortunate that this film was roped in by Happy Madison productions and not by the team behind Wreck it Ralph. The concept is great, and it showcased its potential whenever the actors would quit talking. The nostalgia and small glimmers of respect towards these video game icons were the saving graces of the film, but overall it was cringe worthy bad.
An arcade game tournament was held in the 1980s, Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler), Will Cooper (Kevin James), Ludlow Lamonsoff (Josh Gad), and Eddie “The Fire Blaster” Plant (Peter Dinklage) had their fates sealed with each quarter used that night. The recording of the tournament was sent into space, along with 80's television and history, by NASA in the hope to communicate with extraterrestrials. The discovered video feeds of classic arcade games were misinterpreted by the aliens and seen as a declaration of war. They attack the Earth using the video games as the models and patterns for their assaults. It is up to the nerds to save the world.
The CGI in Pixels was impressive. The Centipede sequence is a great example of how well the animators did. The pexelation of buildings, people, and objects looked fantastic, so Pixels succeeded visually quite often. The video game characters were generally a part of every memorable moment in the film. There were a lot of nostalgia filled highlights in the film, and they would brighten up my eyes each and every time.
The script for this movie was an absolute bust. Adam Sandler plays the same sleazy character he always does and Kevin James is the president. Seriously? The whole nerd versus tough guy charade most films portray is openly inconsiderate here especially when considering how much that stereotype has changed. The film makes out nerds as losers, virgins, and nobodies when that has not be the case for the past decade. Some could argue that it was not the case in general, but let us move on.
The dialogue would take a dip everytime a forced joke stumbled out of anyone's mouth. The sexualized fantasy Josh Gad's character obsessed over was disheartening and grossly creepy. If you had a devious plan to hopefully give a Razzie to an excellent actor, you would cast them in this film like they did with Dinklage as the worst character. The female actresses were weak in comparison to their male counterparts, and there weren't many to begin with in this film. There are female gamers who could mop the floor of many male ones.
Lastly, the damnation of newer games was a typical occurrence in the film. The claim countless times that it is pointless to be good at video games yet professional players who make six figures would beg to differ. Modern games are not all about violence and survival, and the game (The Last of Us) they parade as the scapegoat of that example has one of the best narratives in a video game. The ending to Pixels left so many questions left unanswered that someone could have only watched the 8-bit recreation of the movie during the credits and experienced the same movie -- Hell, it may even be better.
I would be lying if I said the movie was not mildy amusing. As I stated, it did have some great CGI sequences that were very impressive. Even the worse scripts have a few good lines, so I laughed a few times throughout the movie. It is a film that if you are not a current gamer would probably enjoy, but it is bad because it paints gamers as the same stereotype people already assume of them. This could have been a film to do away of those stereotypes and really embrace the actual gamer culture. Unfortunately, we just have Adam Sandler destroying whatever is left of his career and a man having sex with Q'Bert.