I didn’t want to believe the negative reviews and bad buzz. I thought Pixels looked fun, the trailers set up a host of exciting action shots filled with some mad CGI and jokes that made me chuckle. A few of my friends saw it and hated it, then others said they enjoyed it, so stuck in the middle I thought I’d skip viewing it in the cinema and wait. Sadly the wait to watch Pixels wasn’t worth it, this film is a big disappointment, an uneven mix of comedy, sci-fi and action.
Adam Sandler desperately needs a career injection. His last good film was Just Go With It back in 2011, which is one of my favourite films. It’s good light hearted fun and most importantly funny, and last year he starred in Men, Women and Children, a drama that saw him fall a victim to online dating and hookups in a serious role that he pulled off superbly. Sandler has had many misfires, That’s My Boy being his absolute worst as well as last years disappointment Blended. Pixels is yet another disaster, this film would’ve worked with a different director, cast changes and narrative changes.
When a capsule containing video games and popular culture is sent into space, aliens intercept the message as hostile and invade Earth. The world comes under attack by giant Pacmans, invading worms and multiple video game characters. Praise where praise is due, the CGI is really good, the cubes and integration of the pixelated invaders stuns throughout, even down to the way light is reflected off surfaces from the invaders looks stunning. Cinematographer Amir Mokri, who helmed the Transformers franchise, creates some brilliant action shots of the chaos unfolding, the framing emphasises the scale of the attack and his work is probably the best aspect of the movie. Everything else seems to crumble.
Dialogue is exposition heavy, and pretty horrendous. No one speaks like any normal person would in real life. Take the scene where Adam Sandler’s character Sam Brenner visits a house to install a home theatre system. This entire ten minute scene features some of the weirdest, most unnatural dialogue I’ve heard in a while, me and my housemates were baffled at the interactions. One liners fail, little quips fizzle and die out, the comedy does not work in Pixels. The only laughs come from Michelle Monaghan who is game for a lot in Pixels. She is the soul bright spot, her performance is sassy, consistently amusing and believable, not to mention her scolding looks. I really think she did her best with the script, proving herself capable of holding her own in action scenes and standing tall in a mediocre movie.
Adam Sandler glides by, never doing anything that stands out beyond his usual schtick. Josh Gad gives his weakest performance, all he does is scream, shout and whimper. Peter Dinklage is embarrassing, what is with his accent? Jane Krakowski is wasted, such a talent should not be simmered down into a tiny role. Kevin James has no authority or stance, both in terms of screen presence and the fact he’s playing the U.S President, he’s got nothing going for him.
Pixels has too much talky moments, and very little action. It’s a pain to sit through seeing as those talky moments are painfully unfunny and uneven in tone, ranging from goofball silliness to attempts at seriousness. All the action is vapid, there is no connection or peril, leaving the whole affair feeling undercooked and uninteresting. I saw this in 2D, and as a big fan of 3D, I don’t think the extra dimension could’ve made this film anymore entertaining.