Nostalgia is a wonderful thing, but only in the right measures. There is a crucial difference between looking back fondly on the joys of years past and struggling through labored attempts to relive them. Hollywood, however, philanthropic as always, looks to the past in hopes of finding what could prove to be the next easy cash-grab. Thanks to the fact that people can’t get enough of the closest thing humanity has to time travel- memories- Pixels looks to be Hollywood’s latest attempt at this. Creating what could easily be a delightful marriage of our real, modern world and beloved characters from the video games of yester year- such as Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, and even more oddly, Pac-Man.
Pixels looks dreadful. There’s no way around that. There is, it would seem, very little love left for the wacky, far-too-loud antics of Adam Sandler, and whoever thought having him star alongside Kevin James in anything longer than a commercial should be permanently exiled from creating any forms of entertainment.
Watch the trailer here-
In theory, Pixels could have made for some easy, if perhaps straight-to-Netflix, viewing. At no point does the preview even vaguely meander in the direction of potential blockbuster status. The premise is simple enough: NASA loads a time capsule with their ideas for what best represents humans and their culture, (at least according to fictional 1982 standards,) and sends it off into space in the hope it comes across as a message of peace to alien life-forms. This goes horribly wrong, is taken as a declaration of war, and suddenly the Earth is under attack by some of early video games’ most iconic characters. Everything these aliens attack explodes somewhat spectacularly into giant pixels, which is visually enjoyable but nothing new or extraordinary.
Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Josh Gad, and Peter Dinklage seem to be the focus of the trailer in terms of actual characters. In what could easily be a great moment of self-awareness, Adam Sandler’s character shouts “We’re the only ones who can do this!” followed by “Just kidding, we’re all going to die.” Based on the casting alone, there’s a strong chance the alien incursion will be stopped by washed-up comedians shouting horribly-written one-liners until the invaders all leave in a fit of disgust.
Futurama already played out what might happen if Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, and Space Invaders, among other iconic gaming names, were to attack the Earth.
Futurama already played out what might happen if Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, and Space Invaders, among other iconic gaming names, were to attack the Earth in the episode Anthology of Interest II. It was only part of an episode. It wasn’t too long, nor too short; it stuck around long enough for a whimsical look back at old video games with a wink and a nod, and then it was over. Arguably that’s about as much air-time as this premise really deserved. The Nerdist also recently wrote a piece on how Pixels is derivative of a short film by the same name, (which can be viewed below). The key differences are that the pixel invasion is front and center, acting as the star of the piece and just as importantly- there’s no Adam Sandler.
Want to see what Nerdist had to say? – http://nerdist.com/the-pixels-in-pixels-are-based-on-pixels/
The greatest pitfall in Pixels is that it depends wholly and completely on nostalgia for any real hope of people shelling out money to see it in cinemas. “Look,” it says to anyone unfortunate enough to have seen the theatrical trailer. “See all of these familiar characters in a fantastical modern setting where they can come to life? That’d be a funny trip down memory lane- right?” Wrong. Pixels isn’t the only movie guilty attempting to rope in viewers based on the performance of some of their source material. Reboots and prequels and sequels are almost always the dominating force in movie theaters, and when something original does happen to do well it is immediately slated for at least one sequel, one prequel, and one future reboot with a slightly different cast to freshen things up a bit. There’s a distinct lack of originality in favour of indulging things deemed to be easy money-spinners, which is possibly the only thing more painful than the premise and acting in Pixels.
The only redeeming hope for Pixels is if Adam Sandler’s smashed-together quotes from the trailer prove true and the video game aliens end all life on Earth, because being devoured by Pac-Man is a far better fate than realizing the Earth was saved by the water-boy, Paul Blart and Tyrion Lannister (who should really consider firing his agent).
By Phil Gorski