HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Pixels 3D
HTS Overall Score:69
Ahhh, how many of us 80’s video game geeks wanted to save the world from an alien invasion? How many hours did we spend on Galaga, Centipede etc imagining ourselves in that world while we save the girl and ACTUALLY get to the princess in the other castle? I know I certainly did, and I’m pretty sure that a lot of you did that too. Even you younger generations can’t help but put yourself into Master Chief’s shoes and imagine tearing up the Covenant. Well, “Pixels” gives us that in film form, with a bunch of 80’s video gamers having to save the world from an alien race who attacks in our own video game forms. However, “Pixels” spectacularly fails on just about every front it tries, and even the great Peter Dinklage (who ironically voices a video game character in Destiny) can’t save this hot mess from itself.
Back in the 80s, Sam Brenner is a whiz kid at video games. He can naturally see and anticipate the patterns of old fashioned arcade games, making him a legend among his peers. He’s brilliant and mathematically inclined, and certainly heading for a bright future, something his other two friends, Ludlow and Cooper don’t have going for him. Fast forward to 2015 and yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, things haven’t turned out as planned. Sam (Adam Sandler) is a tech for a company like best buy, fixing and installing audio equipment for a bottom dollar wage. Cooper (Kevin James) has gone on to become the president of the United States (I’m sorry, I just can’t stop laughing at the concept of Kevin James being the POTUS), and Ludlow is….well….Ludlow (Josh Gad) is a conspiracy theory nut living in his mom’s basement. Sam had to deal with everyone thinking they’re better than a 40+ year old working as a tech installer and even runs across an old middle school flame, Violet (Michelle Monahan), only to be snubbed by her too.
This all changes when a U.S. military installation in Guam is destroyed by an alien race. An alien race that somehow is attacking in the form of Galaga the video game. Ludlow has figured it all out, but unfortunately he and Sam may not be able to convince the rest of the U.S. military. Back in the 1980’s a space capsule was sent out containing pop culture items, including some of our most popular video games, and this alien race took the capsule as a military challenge. Now they’re back to make it the best 2 out of 3 matches before the earth is destroyed. Thankfully, Cooper sees the same pattern that that Sam and Ludlow do and authorize the guys to organize a defense against the video gaming aliens. A defense that just may require the services of Eddie Plant (Peter Dinklage), the only gamer alive who has ever been able to defeat Sam at anything.
I really wanted to like “Pixels”. The trailer looked like a lot of fun, and Peter Dinklage has become one of the most widely known and respected actors in the last 8 or 9 years. I had that niggling little doubt in the back of my mind when I realized that this was produced by Happy Madison studios (Adam Sandler’s little private studio that has put out such wonderful treats like “That’s My Boy” over the last 10 years or so). That little niggling doubt turned out to be correct as I watched in abject horror what was happening on screen. Geek humor is a hard thing to really get right, and there are SOME really good things about the movie, just not enough. Kevin James and Adam Sandler actually work really well together on screen, even though Kevin James as the POTUS is a more than a BIT of a stretch. The only saving grace that ALMOST makes the movie palatable is Peter Dinklage as Eddie Plant, the gamer with a record. He hams up the role so deliciously well that I was rolling on the floor whenever he was on screen. He plays the “bad boy” in a gaming environment to a T, and it’s so over the top that you just can’t help but enjoy it.
That’s really where the fun ends though, as the film tries just WAY too hard to be mainstream with it, while still keeping that nerd flair. Sandler and James play their normal selves, and that means lots of fat man jokes and antics from James and Sandler just sleep walks his way through the film as he normally does. Josh Gad is painful PAINFUL in all of his scenes except for one (that bit with him addressing the special ops soldiers was actually priceless). Especially the whole “love” subplot he had. I wanted to take my own life at one point wondering why, oh why did this ever get made?
“Pixels” is a weird movie. On one hand it’s epically bad. A failure that just shouldn’t have happened, but at the same time it really does a decent job at having fun with those old 80s video game habits. I know for a fact that I was representative of those old arcade times, spending way too many quarters on Galaga and Centipede. The humor is there, it just seemed to try way too hard for its own good, despite the fantastic visuals and large budget.
Rated PG-13 for some language and suggestive comments
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=56777[/img]Now, I have to say this ahead of time. The video score that I’m reviewing in this version is ONLY based off of the 3D disc alone. The 2D disc scored higher and IS included in the package, but because of the differences between the audio and video on the 2D disc the score will reflect just the 3D version for comparison’s sake. I LOVED the picture quality on the 2D release, and while the 3D disc is not far off from that particular baseline, there ARE some minor differences. The image is a tad darker than the 2D disc and colors are a bight brighter, almost pushing too bright. I also noticed some mild softness that I had to A/B between the two discs to verify if I was seeing properly. Still, the same clarity is there, the stunning facial and long shot detail is the same and black levels are as inky as can be, however a bit TOO deep as I noticed them dipping into black crush levels.
The 3D picture for “Jurassic World” is a bit of a mixed bag, as it IS a post convert. There has been so many 3D releases in the last few years that “Jurassic World” tends to fall into the upper end of the middle of the road. 3D is actually quite nice on “Pixels”. Layering is excellent, with the digital aliens going between buildings and showing off some fantastic pop out effects. None of the pop outs seem particularly cheesy considering the video game nature of the game though, and it really works well. Basic depth is well done, with great backdrops that show some wonderful layering and depth. Other times the 3D effects seem to vanish for portions of the movie and it’s not until the aliens show up again that they decide to add in that extra dimension.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=56785[/img]Here’s the biggest difference on the disc, and one that’s REALLY strange in my opinion. The 2D disc sported a mind blowing Dolby Atmos track, but for some reason the 3D disc forgoes that track and replaces it with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA audio track. Like I said in the video portion, the 2D disc IS included in the 3D package, and thusly you can have the Atmos experience, just not in 3D. Now, onto the evaluation. The 5.1 track is still really good, just not AS immersive as an Atmos track, or at the very least, the 7.1 TrueHD core. Dialog is crisp and clean, and surrounds are incredibly immersive. The only thing that dings this track at all is that a 7.1 to 5.1 drop down is a little noticeable once you’re heard the wild surround activity of the 7.1 track. LFE is tight and punchy as the Atmos track and I was really impressed at how distinct and accurate the Bass was. Impacts were heavy, but not bloated sounding and gunshots felt and sounded differently with each hit. VERY impressive to say the least.
• Making of/Special Effects/Scene Recap Featurettes
• God of the Machine
• Music Video
• Space Invader
• Photo Gallery
The 3D version of “Pixels” contains everything the 2D version of Pixels did with the included 2D disc, but the 3D presentation was comparatively lacking to the 2D experience due to the Atmos exclusion. The movie itself just had me shaking my head a bit and wondering “why, why????” the entire movie. Even the great Peter Dinklage couldn’t save this one from dive bombing terribly. This is an obvious case of the trailer looking like a lot of fun, but my gut instinct telling me that Adam Sandler hasn’t done anything good for over 15 years, and having my gut be right. The audio and video are excellent, and the extras decent, but unless you’re a fan of Adam Sandler to this day, then this is just a nope, nope nope in all directions.
Starring: Adam Sandler, Peter Dinklage, Kevin James,
Director: Chris Columbus
Written By: Tim Herlihy, Timothy Dowling
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (TrueHD 7.1 Core....2D ONLY), English DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish, Thai DD 5.1, Portuguese DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 106 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: October 27th, 2015
Buy Pixels 3D Blu-ray on Amazon
Buy Pixels 2D Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Skip It
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