Movie Review: PIXELS

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PixelsOfficialPosterColumbia Pictures
2015
PG-13

“Don’t tell anybody I killed a Smurf.”

When aliens intercept video feeds of classic arcade games and misinterpret them as a declaration of war, they attack Earth, using the games as models. Knowing that he must employ a similar strategy, President Will Cooper recruits his childhood pal, former video game champ and home theater installer Sam Brenner, to lead a team of old-school arcade players and a military specialist to save the planet.

Pixels is yet another movie that I initially had no intention of watching in the theater. As a matter of fact, by merely hearing about the plot synopsis from the round table discussion with the Coven of Exalted Geeks, I figured I could live without not only watching Pixels in the theater and waiting for the streaming on Netflix some time in the future, but also not wanting to see the trailer on YouTube any time soon. I got all the information I needed: this was a live action Futurama episode staring Adam Sandler and Kevin James, two names that pretty much guarantee I’m going to avoid watching the movie. Nothing against the actors personally, I just have never found the majority of the movies they make terribly amusing. I made my decision to pass on this movie, and that was that.

What they didn’t tell me was that Pixels also co-starred Peter Dinklage. More to the point: Peter Dinklage in a mullet. I was pretty much honor bound to watch this when it came out after discovering this by being forced to sit through the trailer on YouTube while waiting for whatever it was I was there to watch in the first place. Point is, I decided to actually watch the movie on the big screen when it came out, with the caveat that it would have to be a lower-price time (like a matinée or an early bird morning price, like I’ve been doing as of recent), or be patient enough to wait for it to land on the second-run El Cheepo theater. I went with the Early Bird one, in case you were morbidly curious.

As to whether or not Pixels was going to be a sub-par movie was never really in question. It was, after all, a Happy Madison movie; the only question was really going to be, what level of bad are we talking about? Entertainingly bad, or claw-your-eyes-out, make-the-hurting-STOP kind of bad? We’ve seen both from Sandler’s company, really. I was prepared for anything, though the preliminary reviews and tweets have been of the lambasting side, thus I was leaning more towards preparing for the worst. At least it was in one of those fancy-schmancy theater rooms made up with the La-Z-Boy seats, so if worse came to worse, I could at least kick back and take a nap. Like I more or less almost did with Annabelle.

Really, though, I found Pixels wasn’t really that bad. At least, I didn’t find it to be an unwatchable sack of do-do that a majority of online complainers are proclaiming it to be. Maybe it’s because I remain for the most part ambivalent about Adam Sandler’s movies, I don’t know. I just thought I’d actually watch the movie before deciding I despised it. Or, you know, didn’t despise it as much. Or whatever the opposite of despise is, I can’t seem to remember.

Pixels is what the posters allude to it being: a big, dumb, fun sci-fi action comedy that doesn’t pretend to be more than just that. And for the most part, the action scenes are the real reason to go see this movie. I mean, for this 80s kid who remembers these arcade games from that era, watching giant versions of these video game characters run amok and destroy cities was enough to coax a big goofy grin out of me. Allegedly. It was dark in the theater, no one had proof that this actually happened, no one can prove anything.

The problem here, lies (if you would consider it a problem) in the fact that, while you’re waiting for the action scenes to happen, you’re still stuck watching a very formulaic Adam Sandler movie. You got Adam Sandler playing another underdog character, Kevin James as the earnestly lovable but inevitably goofy friend (who also happens to be the President of the U. S. of A.), the love interest who is way out of Sandler’s character’s league that finds him abrasive at first but then by the end of the movie inevitably hooks up with him anyway, said love interest’s son whom bonds instantly with Sandler’s character, and the way more interesting antagonist who shows up and chews the scenery with the aplomb of a famished Great White shark. Okay, there’s also a side character who…I don’t know if he was trying to go for Chris Farley mannerisms, or if he was told “play your character like how Chris Farley would have”, but he came off as one of those annoying people you don’t know if you want to smack and shout “NO! STOP!”, or buy him an ice cream out of pity. Fortunately, though, the non-action scenes aren’t as annoying as they could have been…just more-so with the later character discussed.

Overall, I would rate Pixels as entertaining enough to watch. I enjoyed it for what it was, and even had a bit of fun pedantically pointing out the 80s pop culture mess-ups (they’re there…anybody from my era will see them). Pixels rates as a Wait For The Rental, or at least a stream on NetFlix in the future. If you must see it in the theaters, as I admit it was great to see the showdowns on the big screen, shoot for matinée pricing, or a second-run theater. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to find the Pac Man emulator for Linux…got me a jonesing…

Sunday A’La Carte’ – September 28, 2014

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unnamedI know, I know—technically, it’s Monday morning now. Forgive me, but around the time when I get around to actually start writing these bits, I found myself rather wanting to sleep off a sudden onset of depressive funk (not the fun music style, either). It’s been a surprisingly heavy day, first not being able to go to church in the morning due to some overheating issues with the Aluminium Falcon this past week, then receiving word that the church I attended from childhood through graduating from High School—Uehling Congregational Church—is closing its doors for good at the end of the year. And to top it off, I finally caught up with the season premier of Bones…AND THEY KILLED OFF SWEETS. Oh, um…spoilers, there. It was like having a rather loyal dog killed in front of you. And I’m a cat person. At that point, I thought: “You know what? I’m just going to escape reality for a bit. Nap time.” That was at a quarter to 6pm, CST. My body dragged me kicking and screaming from the Dark Realm around a quarter to 12am. So, I figured I’d get some writing in before heading back for a few more hours…

habits of the common book wormI guess I should go ahead and make the unofficial announcement here: I’ve decided to effectively end production on NECRO SHOCK RADIO. I shall explain more in-depth in my more official announcement / explanation in a few days, but the general reason is that my heart just isn’t in it like it has been. I might just do a special Final Session, where I just play the songs I like, rather than throw everything into the Randomizer and pick them out that way. But, yeah, to quote The Doors: “This is the end.”

umbrellaOne of the things that has me rather down (among the other ones, mind you) is the fact that the era of Saturday Morning Cartoons is officially over. No more lazy Saturday morning blocks of fun, animated goodness to watch with a big bowl of artificially colored and over-sweetened cereal of choice. It was more than just mindless entertainment, though. I credit them for the stronger bond that I have with extended family members. No matter our disagreements, Saturday Morning Cartoons brought us all together. Well, other things too, but for the sake of the issue at hand, Saturday Morning Cartoons played a big part. I mean, sure, cartoons themselves are going nowhere. And in this day and age, with entire cable channels dedicated (for the most part) to cartoons, and websites offering 24-7 animated nostalgia fixes, it’s a good time to be a cartoon geek. But, I can’t help but feel that a little bit of Americana has gone the way of the buffalo. To think that there will be an entire generation of youngsters who will never know the joys of getting up at the crack of dawn, pour some cereal and watch several hours of cartoons on a standard broadcast television channel. Rather disheartening, really…

forbidden doorsA few days ago, I posted some spontaneous brain-droppings on how the so-called “grown-up” birthday parties I attend now are really bigger versions of the kind I attended as a kid. Kind of like how Dave N’ Buster’s is the grown-up version of Chuck E. Cheese’s – all the fun with way better food. Anyway, the actual celebration happened Saturday evening, and by all accounts was completely awesome. We stuffed ourselves with sushi, home-made pretzels and red bean buns were brought, along with several mixers for those who partook of the adult libations. Discussions on computer programming, some sort of roll playing card game was being played on the dining room table, an 8-bit style video game called “Crawl” was the point of amusement for a bit, then we all gathered into two groups and played the space-faring interactive video game called Artemus. Think Star Trek, with cooler looking ships. I was the Science Officer. Essentially, I scanned enemy ships in various quadrants, and reported on their weaknesses for optimum blowing up. I had to leave before Midnight, alas, on account of the hour-long drive ahead of me. I have no qualms with that. Galloping around the cosmos is a game for the young…

Have to get back to bed. Needing to get the Aluminium Falcon into the shop to have her looked at, then work again. Here’s to a better week. I leave you with an episode of one of my all-time favorite Saturday Morning Cartoon shows back in the day. Cheers, all.

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