Before I get to the point, let me start out by saying that I actually had hopes for this film.
I am a gamer from childhood as well as a big moviegoer (but of course you already know that). I went into this film skeptical because of Adam Sandler (he hasn't really come out with anything good since 1999), but excited because I really liked the idea and it has Pac-Man. Upon my first time playing Pac-Man, I found it strangely addicting and immediately fell in love with it. Ever since then, I have waited to see Pac-Man on the big screen, and when I heard about the new film "Pixels" coming out, and that it was going to feature Pac-Man, I could not help but unleash my inner nerd.
From the trailers, it looked quite promising and had a great setup. We have these classic arcade games attacking Earth and it's up to a team of hardcore gamers to save the world. It also gives you a bit of a Ghostbusters vibe.
You may not have known this but this movie is inspired by an independent short film from 2010. The short was unique and had an impressive art style.
I was hoping that this would be a surprise hit like "The Lego Movie" and "Guardians of the Galaxy" and that it would turn Sandler's career back around. Unfortunately, this film was a big letdown.
Now before I go into the bad parts, I am going to name some good parts.
As mentioned earlier, it has a great setup and a unique idea. We have these aliens who misinterpret video feeds as a declaration of war, so they attack Earth in the form of classic 80's arcade video games. The film is visually impressive and has some great world building and some really cool scenes. I liked the Pac-Man scene, the centipede scene, and the Donkey Kong scene. The film started out pretty good, and the beginning, when our four main characters were teenagers, had me thinking it was going to be good. Sadly, that is all of the "good" there is.
It has a bad storyline and the plot is rushed and there is no chemistry within the characters. A lot of the time, the film can not seem to make up it's mind as to whether it wanted to be a blockbuster or a straight up comedy. The humor is lowbrow, and every so often, the plot is interrupted by these long drawn out lowbrow offbeat comedy scenes. At those times, I was like "Stop making a fool out of yourself and get back to the story, please!" Also, the romance aspect of the film is forced.
They completely wasted the "Lady Lisa" character. She did not even have any dialogue. I am positive that it was just a blatant cameo of Ashley Benson as an attempt to lure "Pretty Little Liars" fans.
Sean Bean's performance was also pointless. They could have used him as a joke relating to him dying in so many movies, but they wasted it on making him a blatant cameo.
Here is the story (because the trailer won't tell you):
The story begins with our protagonists Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler), Will Cooper (Kevin James), Ludlow Lamonsoff (Josh Gad), and Eddie Plant (Peter Dinklage) as kids at the arcade in 1982. Ludlow is in love with Lady Lisa, the heroine of his favorite game "Dojo Quest". Sam and Eddie face each other in a Donkey Kong playing contest, which is to be recorded and sent in a time capsule into space as a message of peace. Eddie beats Sam. After that, Sam and will have this conversation about polular celebrities (such as Madonna) that they would like to marry. Then it quickly cuts to a scene when they are now adults having the same conversation (expect this time with younger celebrities sucha Scarlett Johanson). And then from there, it cuts straight to the invasion. Sam now works for a company that installs software. Will is now the president of the United States. The military is finding a signal of an attack from Galaga enemies. As Sam is doing his job, he meets a woman named Violoet (Michelle Monaghan) and her son Matty. Sam then gets a call from President Cooper. Sam then goes to the White House and they discuss the attack. Then, as Sam is driving home, he finds Ludlow in his van. Ludlow has a theory that an alien life form found the video feeds and sent real life verisons of what it saw. Then, Sam and Ludlow attempt to train the soldiers to fight back, but the admiral is not amused. So they try the English soldiers in London, England. Then Centiped attacks London, and Sam and Ludlow fight back and succeed. Then they find out that Pac-Man is attacking New York, so they bail Eddie out of prison. Sam, Ludlow, and Eddie, joined by Prof. Iwatani (Denis Akiyama) fight Pac-Man and succeed. Then there is a celebration Dinner party where Ludlow sings "Everybody Wants to Rule the World". There, we find out that Eddie has always been cheating. Then, a giant space ship in the shape of a boss Galage approaches and releases more real life video games (such as Space Invaders and Frogger) that wreak havoc all over Washington DC. Sam, Will, and Violet go into the ship (which has Matty held captive) and confront Donkey Kong, while Ludlow and Eddie fight off all of the other games. Ludlow encounters Lady Lisa (Ashley Benson), who at first resists, but suddenly joins the fight. Upon learning that Eddie is a cheater, Sam then realizes that he is the "true" Donkey Kong champion and defeats Donkey Kong and saves Matty, thus destroying all of the other games including Lady Lisa. That is the whole movie right there.
There are things in this movie that I liked, but there were more things that I did not like than things that I liked. A few cool scenes were just not enough. What this movie needs is a good script, character development and a well assembled cast. Pixels had none of those.
It's a shame, because on paper, Pixels really had potential.
Overall, I was very disappointed with this film. I would not recommend it.
You are better off seeking out "Wreck-It Ralph"-or heck, "Scott Pilgrim vs The World"-instead.