Saturday, July 25, 2015

Movie Review -- Pixels

Today we have the new movie Pixels, starring Adam Sandler and directed by Chris Columbus. Columbus previously brought us Home Alone and a few of the Harry Potter films, so expectations are somewhat high going into this.

The story starts off in 1982, when four boys compete in the World Videogame Championship. After a fierce battle, the winner is decided. We then flash forward to the present day. Technician Sam Brenner (Sandler), who came in 2nd in the competition, now installs TVs and other devices for a living. His best friend Cooper (Kevin James) actually became President of the United States (though he has an abysmal approval rating).

One day, Brenner is doing an install for Lt. Col. Violet Van Patton (Michelle Monaghan) when they both get a call from Cooper summoning them to the White House. Upon arriving, they are informed that an unknown force has wiped out an American military base in Guam. Brenner quickly identifies the culprit as the old arcade game Galaga, though this is difficult for Cooper's cabinet to accept. Nevertheless, it is confirmed by another competitor in the 1982 championship, conspiracy theorist Ludlow (Josh Gad).

The world soon receives a message from inhabitants of another planet who received old videogame footage from the championship via a space probe launched in the 80s. They misunderstand the video as a declaration of war, and they accept. The declare a best of five series of battles, with the winning side taking the loser's planet, The first battle was when they wiped out the Guam base, so the humans are already down by one. With the fate of the planet on the line, mankind turns to the videogame experts for help, but even they are going to need backup, so they recruit the guy who actually won the championship, the felonious Eddie Plant (Peter Dinklage). But with a checkered past, can he be trusted to help save the world?

Pixels is a fun-filled romp through 1980s American pop culture. As someone who grew up with games such as Pac Man and Donkey Kong, it was quite enjoyable to see them get the big-screen treatment they deserve. And it's great to see all the videogame characters they managed to include; not to spoil anything, but even a certain snickering dog makes an appearance. I also found the film to be funny, though not all of the jokes land.

I also want to take this time to sing the praises of Peter Dinklage. From Game of Thrones to X-Men: Days of Future Past to Pixels, this little guy continues to impress me. He can go from being dead serious to a comic lowlife (as Eddie Plant), and I look forward to seeing what he comes up with next.

However, as its IMDB page currently shows, Pixels isn't for everyone. It currently has a metascore of 27 and a 5,1 from 3,451 IMDB users. There weren't that many people in the theater, either. I think this is going to be a movie that people will be divided on.

But I thoroughly enjoyed Pixels, and hopefully you will as well.

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