Pixels: Film Review
Cast: Adam Sandler, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad, Michelle Monaghan, Brian Cox, Kevin James
Director: Chris Columbus
When it comes to Adam Sandler comedies, the bar is not exactly very high.
But to say Sandler looks incredibly bored and lifeless throughout this is a damning expression of disappointment given the fact that Pixels could have been very good.
Instead, this story flops along.
It's the tale of Sandler's former arcade gamer Sam who's thrust into saving the world by his buddy, the President, played by Kevin James (yep, folks it's the movies - where it appears anything is possible) when aliens attack based on a time capsule sent into space in the 1980s.
Along for the ride is Josh Gad, channeling his very best Jack Black, as fellow arcade geek and former King of Kong style nemesis, pint-sized Eddie (Game of Thrones star and Emmy winner Peter Dinklage, who hams it up as much as he can along with the swagger) - but none of them, bar Dinklage, bring any real heft to the proceedings.
Which is a shame, because Pixels is swathed in a kind of 80s nostalgia that's as comforting as it is familiar to many - the idea that the naive innocence of games way back when could see our ultimate destruction is one which appeals to me as a gamer.
Based on the short film Pixels by Patrick Jean, the production values and the 3D ethos certainly work in this blocky execution to brilliant effect - certainly by the final act where the Earth's overrun by gaming creatures from the past, there will be elements of the audience that will bathe in the reminscence while the younger end will not recognise anything other than Pac-Man at a push.
All in all, Pixels isn't as bad as perhaps it could have been - it's perfectly fine family fodder that lives in a universe of its own making - but if anything it suffers from an apathy from its lead that's contagious. Not once does Sandler's character seem to remotely care what's happening and unfortunately, as a result, most of the audience feel the same. And while the computer elements are brilliantly visualised, the human characters - aside from Dinklage - are sketchily outlined and barely filled in.
Carve Pixels up to a wasted opportunity; another Hollywood idea that fell by the wayside and file it under "great idea, poorly executed".