Videos games have certainly come a long way from the likes of Pong. These days, the world of gaming is filled with complex stories and out of this world mechanics. Yet, even with the advancements, we cannot forget the time when kids would get their quarters ready and head to the arcade. So, what happens when aliens attack the world using '80s video games? Apparently you get the new sci-fi comedy, Pixels. Directed by Chris Columbus, Pixels brings the likes of Pac Man, Centipede and Donkey Kong to the silver screen in a rather unique way. While the movie presented an intriguing concept, it has a few factors going against it. For starters, video games rarely make good movies. Not to mention that the film is produced by and stars Adam Sandler; the comedian's recent track record speaks for itself. As you can imagine, the factors that make up Pixels were not comforting. However, instead of getting a 'game over,' perhaps this comedy could prove this film adventurer wrong.
The story of Pixels centers around Adam Sandler who plays former video game expert Sam Brenner. Living an unsatisfied life, Sam is called on by his friend... who just so happens to the President of the United States, Will (Kevin James), to help with an unusual problem. It turns out that an alien force has invaded Earth and their means of attack is creating real-life video games all around. In order to stop the threat, Sam is joined by conspiracy theorist Ludlow Lamonsoff (Josh Gad), former rival Eddie Plant (Peter Dinklage), and weapon developer Violet van Patten (Michelle Monaghan); together the group has to play to save the Earth.
The story of Pixels was a case of "what you see is what you get." The plot to this comedy had no major surprises to it, and its structure is fairly straightforward. This was both a good and bad thing. On one hand, the story comes off as generic by playing to the comedy genre's more notable plot points. Then again, because it was so straightforward, the plot stays true to its concept. The plot certainly stuck to the idea of aliens and video games, and it did make the story entertaining - if even still flawed. The only other issue I had with Pixels' plot was its pacing. The pacing would jump around and while it was not hard to follow, it still made the story's flow feel sporadic. Yet, even with the issues I had with the film's story, I found myself being entertained. All in all, I was left feeling that this video game story could have been a lot worse, and thankful that it wasn't.
It being a movie starring Adam Sandler, I did not have the best confidence in the cast. But this comedic ensemble proved me wrong - to some degree, that is. Though Adam Sandler as Sam Brenner fell under the characteristics that many comedy protagonists suffer from, I have to admit that Brenner had traits that I grew to like. The same thing can be said about Kevin James as Will. The character played to traits that James is known for, but for the most part, Kevin James came off fairly likable. Michelle Monagha did a great job as Violet, but came off as the typical love interest. The true show-stealers of Pixels, though, were Josh Gad and Peter Dinklage. While Gad's Ludlow lived on character traits that I absolutely despise, I cannot deny that the actor made every moment worthwhile to the point where I could not help but enjoy “The Wonder Kid." Peter Dinklage as Eddie Plant could be a bit eccentric, but there was no denying that this character played with charisma that Dinklage is known for providing. Add appearances from the likes of Brian Cox, Jane Krakowski as well as Sean Bean and you had a cast that, while not solid, was still delightful to see perform.
Watching the previews for this, it was clear that Pixels was going to have effects that were meant to compliment the video games of the '80s, and thankfully, Pixels did not disappoint in this element. The effects of Pixels were creative as they captured the idea of pixelated video games. What also helped this factor was the direction in cinematography as it captured the mechanics to video games like Donkey Kong. Along with the movie's effects was Pixels sense of humor. The comedy in this film was a bit hit-or-miss. Some of the jokes were indeed funny - but not truly "laugh out loud" funny. Then, of course, there were some humorous bits that stayed in the standard form of today's comedy genre. The lesser well-received comedic moments could have been worse, it's true, but their presence in Pixels still irritated me. Still, even though it had some issues, the laughs in Pixels managed to work well with the movie's concept.
Pixels is a case of what you see is what you get - and that's not a bad thing. While there are issues in the story, characters and comedy, these factors managed to work in favor of the overall tone of the film. What made Pixels work was its effects and tone as they both showed a sense of love for classic games. In the end, Pixels may not have been the strongest movie based on a video game, but it still made for an entertaining blockbuster.