Tuesday, July 28, 2015

[Review] Pixels

The moment the trailer for Pixels hit the net, it was apparent that this was going to be a winner. And by "winner" I mean a wretched misfire. The film kept getting pushed back just out of our reach--pulled away like a $100 bill dangling on a string. And by "$100 bill dangling on a string" I mean Donald Trump's sweaty hairpiece. It was probably gearing up for an Oscar run. And by "Oscar run" I mean the studio was struggling to find the least damaging way to release it because they knew it was going to tank miserably. Adam Sandler has been dropping gems into theaters for a while now. And by "gems" I mean steaming hot piles of dookie. Pixels is absolutely no different.

It begins in the '80s with a group of kids that become arcade game champions -- PAC-MAN, Centipede, Donkey Kong... This aspect initially might bring some nice nostalgia for people, but it's only a matter of time before this thing gets rotten. Flash forward to the present and we have Brenner (Sandler), a Nerd Squad worker, Kevin James is the President, and Ludlow (Josh Gad) is a fanboy living in his grandma's basement. Meanwhile, extraterrestrials in the form of classic arcade game characters are invading the planet. The three former gamers are called upon to save the world, in a poor excuse for Ghost(Game)busters fashion. Along the way, they're forced to join with Eddie, the rival from their childhood (a mullet adorning prisoner played Peter Dinklage).

For the record, the movie is halfway over before they start fighting against the video game characters. So it feels like there's a lot of tripe to endure before any action takes place. And when the action does arrive, it isn't even cool for a few seconds. It's like a cheesy SyFy Channel movie (ex. Sharknado) but without the deliberately over-the-top, self-aware ridiculousness. I got the impression that it would actually be more amusing to just watch the footage of these guys reacting to green screens instead of watching the movie itself. It also doesn't help that Wreck-it Ralph essentially carried out this concept with superior results.

The turrible dialogue in the script is not even on the 'so bad it's good' level. It's just 'so bad it's really bad'. Some scenes are so unbearable (particularly one toward the beginning when Sandler's character attempts to seduce a recently divorced woman, and then he Robin Thickes his way out of the situation) that you feel like teleporting out of your theater seat into another dimension. Sandler's character is so despicable that you wish PAC-MAN would swallow him and crap him out within the first 15 minutes. It all leads to a dumb dud of a climax that looks subpar visually and is backed by a stunningly original choice of music in "We Will Rock You". The scene doesn't actually feel climactic other than the fact that you're happy the film is coming to an end soon.

Considering the cast, we're met with Adam Sandler who manages to be obnoxious and dreadfully lethargic at the same time. Then there's the wickedly banal Josh Gad. His screechy yelp is the type of sound that could cause natural disasters, or provoke real aliens to attack Earth. We're seriously lucky that the fall-master Kevin James took a break from the esteemed Paul Blart series in order to join in on the shenanigans. I can't really call him the saving grace, because there's nothing that can save this film, but he's far from insufferable and basically the only reason I'm not giving this a 0/10.

Pixels is a lot of bad pieces that add up to a really, really bad whole.


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