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Title: Pixels

Movie: :2stars:
Video: :5stars:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :2.5stars:

HTS Overall Score:80

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

Video :5stars:
The 2D disc for “Pixels” is a mind blowingly good transfer. Shot digitally in 2.39:1, the image is crystal clear and vibrant as the video games the movie is replicating. Bright colors (pushing a bit warm with reds and oranges) dominate the screen. Deep blues and greens and reds populate when the alien invaders attack, while a more natural color palette takes over when dealing with the human population. Blacks are deep and inky, never dipping into crush or greying over at any scenes. Artifact free the disc looks simply magnificent, with razor sharp clarity and crushing fine detail. Whether it’s the computer animated aliens, or real live human beings, everything is seen with crystal clarity, both long shots and heavily detailed up close and personal points. Demo disc all the way.

Audio :4.5stars:
The 2D disc is blessed with a fantastic and bombast Amos track to enjoy. Dialog is always crisp and clear, but the real showstoppers are the action scenes, where we have a swarm of noise that shifts across the soundstage with precise movement and flows naturally. You can hear the directionality of the track change at a moment’s notice as a centipede alien jumps from the right corner of the screen to the back left, and then back up to the front once more. Light ray shots blast with serious weight and with wonderfully nuanced sounds. Each individual sound is unique on the track and you can actually hear the texture and feel of each individual sound perfectly. The LFE is tight and punchy, but deep and powerful too. I noticed that the Bass feels very crisp, with a lot of power behind it without sounding bloated and heavy. Gunshot impacts feel like they punch you in the chest, yet they still have a distinct audio signature to them instead of getting lost in the “boom”. Surround usage is extremely high as you get a LOT action sequences to fill them out. Wonderful track from beginning to end.

Extras :2.5stars:

• Making of/Special Effects/Scene Recap Featurettes
• God of the Machine
• Music Video
• Space Invader
• Photo Gallery
• Previews

Overall: :4stars:

"Pixels" 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. I felt like Jar Jar Binks at one point ready to scream "I give up, I give up"!

Additional Information:

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), French, Spanish, Thai DD 5.1, Portuguese DTS-HD MA 5.1
Studio: Sony
Rated: PG-13
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

More about Mike

Premium Member
15,054 Posts
Thats a shame, I also had high expectations for this movie thinking that it would be somewhat like a Wreak it Ralph kind of fun (really enjoyed that one). Adam Sandler has not really done anything good since maybe his "50 first dates"?

2,761 Posts
His old material was much better like Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore. I thought this one would be good considering the 80's arcade theme. I need to rent it for sure.

2,072 Posts
Thanks for the review. I thought this movie would have been worth watching but now after reading your review, I am happy I didn't see it in the theater nor will I get it on Blue. thanks.

1 Posts
I enjoyed the movie. My wife did too. I'd pay to see it in the theaters again. It was awesome to see in Dolby Cinema theater.

2,761 Posts
I watched it with the family. I enjoyed it even though I think it took too long for the story to unfold. I just loved the 80s arcade. When I watch a modern Sandler movie I know it's going to be cheesy. Go in with that in mind and it's enjoyable. My wife loved it as did the kids.

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