Pixels Movie Review
For those that have not seen Pixels yet, let me get this off my chest right now. You have already seen this movie if you have seen Independence Day from 1996. The style of the two movies is pretty close, at least early on. There are a few differences in how these two movies are setup but for the most part, the larger overall picture is cut from a similar part of the same cloth. We have an overwhelming force from another world attacking, there are secret military bases, a wild haired connection with the president of the United States of America and a “me-too” love link going on with the outsider that is there to save the world. Got all of that?
It is the summer of 1982, a magical time for gamers of all ages as video arcades are opening up all over the landscape. One in particular captures the attention of two teens and they begin a lifelong love of gaming. Sandler’s character is shown to be a savant at gaming, something they remind us of throughout the movie, which is why he naturally enters the arcade game world championships. At this battle of the best arcade gamers the mc announces that NASA is recording video of the players in action and that video will be shot into space in a time capsule that hopefully would be seen by other species as a sign of intelligence. Unfortunately, that is not what happens, sure the time capsule is received but it is accepted as a sign of aggression, an act of war and we receive an answer. It is modern day and now it is up to Adam Sandler playing Sam Brenner, Ludlow Lamonsoft and the President of the United States to combat these 8-Bit pixel enemies. Others join the battle for the planet but the story focus’ on Kevin James (playing President Cooper) and Brenner who has a new sidekick in Ludlow for most of the movie.
The first real taste of the enemy for Brennen and the team is at Hyde Park in England (funny how US military are allowed to run roughshod with civilians across the globe). Brenner is on hand handing out tips on how to battle their first nemesis, Centipede. Previous battles that set off the alerts included Galaga and Breakout, which we lost one life at each of those altercations. Once we lost three lives, just like in most games, it would be game over for planet Earth.
I Am Just a Loser that is good at Old Videogames
Brenner has to call out Ludlow for this event after the military, which had many muscle bound soldiers training for this event, failed miserably. No worries, it was just to set up Brenner as the savior of Earth as he stepped in and stopped the menace that a platoon of trained soldiers could not. How convenient for us.
Pixels Movie Trailer
Challenges are announced through footage taken off the time capsule that was sent into space. Madonna, Fantasy Island, even Tammy Faye Baker makes an appearance in the video clips that challenge Earth’s team. At least they didn’t forget about that time capsule.
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What is interesting to those of us that are fans of these games, is that the real versions of Asteroids, Galaga, Duck Hunt, Breakout is that they don’t have endings. Yet, here in Pixels, after only a level or two the challenge is over and a winner is decided- the first two rounds went to the aliens while the third went to Earth. After each challenge is completed a “life” is taken as a trophy. Earth receives classic game characters as their trophies while the aliens take people.
Brenner has an off and on attempt at a relationship with an advisor to President Cooper but it goes nowhere for most of the movie. This is in line with what happens in Independence Day with Jeff Goldblum’s character.
There is major nostalgia going on in Pixels but that is lost on many movie goers of today. If you grew up playing Pac-Man, Galaga, Centipede and the other titles featured then you will love Pixels. For those reading this that grew up on Xbox and PS3 you will be left out of nearly all of the inside jokes, comments and nostalgia. The color of the cars, the license plates, the reason it is in a large, labyrinthine, city, etc are all probably lost on people that don’t have a basic understanding of Pac-Man in general, let alone the opening scenes.
Even for fans of retro games Pixels may be a little hard to take if you are coarse to the Adam Sandler style of comedy. It is not for everyone but it is a fun romp through what game developers want you to think virtual reality gaming might be like. Pixels is a hit or miss type of movie, there is no real “middle ground” with it- you either love it or hate it. For me, there is enough here to make it worth watching again, just not too soon.