Adam Sandler has been on a steep incline of worse and worse movies over the last few years (See: Jack and Jill, Grown Ups 2, etc.), and just when I had given up all hope for Sandler Movies came the trailers for Pixels. This movie gave got me excited. Awesome retro video games characters come to life and attack Earth and it's up to a select few geeks to stop them. Plus with Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Harry Potter) at the helm and Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) as a part of the team, what could go wrong?
Then came the reviews. 18% on Rotten Tomatoes, 27 on Metacritic, just poor reviews across the board. All my hopes and expectations immediately dropped. I figured it was yet again just another lackluster, humorless, annoying Adam Sandler Film. Now I wouldn't typically waste my money to go see a film with such low scores in theaters and wait (if I even watched it) until it came out on dvd. However since I recently had started working at a movie theater, I figured might as well make use of the free movie perks and give it a shot despite my now low expectations. And I was pleasantly surprised.
My girlfriend and I both remained very entertained throughout the entire film. The writing was nothing special. It was pretty formulaic and it lacked laughs, much like Sandler's other recent movies. Unlike his other recent movies however, the comedy was less pretentious. Adam Sandler's performance was nothing special but he was believable enough to pull off his nerdy, gamer character. Although occasionally annoying, Peter Dinklage was entertaining to watch as a mullet wielding, Serena Williams loving, bad guy turned good, rival turned ally, narcissistic, award winning gamer. Josh Gad (Frozen, Jobs) was mostly likable as an outcast among outcasts, video game expert. What disappointed however was that Kevin James served almost no purpose aside from conveniently being both President of the United States and Sandler's character's childhood friend. And aside from obviously being inserted just for the sake of being Sandler's love interest throughout, Michelle Monaghan's character didn't do much in the movie's favor.
What I loved most about the movie was the imaginative, stylish video game character vs humans battles. The cgi brought the games to life and the action set-pieces were very fun to watch. Being a gamer myself, I appreciated the concept and implementation of the video games. The ways Colombus had the hero's of the film duke it out with their characters were a joy to watch. For example; when Pac-man attacks, the heroes use 4 different color-coded cars, representing the ghosts from the classic game, to chase him around the maze of the city. And when Pac-man eats a cherry, he gets to chase the guys in the cars for 10 seconds. It's these understandings of how the games work and inserting the rules into the movie that make it interesting.
Although the film only boasts a formulaic, mostly childish script, it's the battles that do it justice. All the big action scenes from the Centipedes in the beginning to the Donkey Kong battle in the end are a blast of entertainment. It may not be the best of Adam Sandler movies but it definitely isn't the worst. Don't let the poor responses deter you from watching it. If the plot or trailers ever gave you the slightest interest to watch or you appreciate video game culture in any way, then go watch it and make your own judgement. It's an unfortunately underrated film and you may end up being glad you took the time to watch it.