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Chris Columbus
Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Josh Gad
Writing Credits:
Tim Herlihy, Timothy Dowling

When aliens misinterpret video feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war, they attack the Earth in the form of the video games.

Box Office:
$88 million.
Opening Weekend
$24,011,616 on 3,723 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English Dolby Atmos
English Audio Descriptive Service
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Thai Dolby Digital 5.1
Chinese Simplified
Chinese Traditional
Supplements Subtitles:

106 min.
Price: $9.99
Release Date: 10/27/2015

• Eight Featurettes
• Music Video
• Photo Gallery
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Pixels [Blu-Ray] (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 25, 2015)

2016 may bring a high-profile Ghostbusters reboot, but moviegoers don’t need to wait until then for a similar kind of action-comedy hybrid, as 2015’s Pixels offers its own slant on that territory. The film opens in 1982 and introduces us to 13-year-old Sam Brenner (Anthony Ippolito), a top-notch video game player. When he enters into a world arcade championship, he almost beats headliner Eddie Plant (Andrew Bambridge) but loses when he falls short at Donkey Kong. Haunted by this defeat, Sam (Adam Sandler) underachieves as an adult, unlike Will Cooper (Kevin James), his childhood pal who becomes the president of the United States.

A crisis occurs when a strange attack befalls on a US military base in Guam. What makes this assault so unusual? It comes from characters like those in the video game Galaga.

Eventually authorities figure out what happened. Footage from the 1982 video game championship got included in a time capsule sent into space, and aliens interpreted it as a declaration of war. As such, they now send malicious representations of those characters to battle humans.

This comes in the form of a challenge: the first planet to win three video game competitions emerges victorious. President Cooper enlists Sam to be part of an elite video game team to train the military and fight back. Other members include one-time prodigy Ludlow Lamonsoff (Josh Gad) and Sam’s old nemesis Eddie Plant (Peter Dinklage).

As noted at the start, Pixels bears a distinct resemblance to Ghostbusters, especially as it progresses and becomes more of an action film. The manner in which it melds genres hearkens back to the 1984 classic and creates more than a few minor déjà vu moments. That said, I don’t think Pixels feels like a rip-off of Ghostbusters, as it creates enough of its own identity.

Unfortunately, Pixels doesn’t produce an especially interesting experience. Some of my disenchantment with the movie comes from factors that may seem nitpicky. For one, the trailer gave away far too much, so the viewer will often be way ahead of the characters. This eliminates a lot of excitement and tension; we already know where the story will go, so the drama gets damaged.

In addition, many parts of the story make no sense. For example, we’re supposed to accept the notion that Sam stinks at Donkey Kong - heck, Will even states this toward the climax.

But as depicted in the prologue, this isn’t true. Sure, Eddie beats Sam at Donkey Kong, but not because Sam can’t play. In truth, teen Sam kicks butt at the game – why show him as a strong player and then later try to convince us he sucks at it?

I also find myself annoyed by all the chronological mistakes, as the movie uses too many post-1982 celebrities that it claims were 1982 touchstones. Even when the film features Hall and Oates - who were big in 1982 – it features footage from a later period.

And is this movie supposed to take place in 2015? I guess, but a character refers to Obama as his favorite past president, so it can't be before 2017 – and its depiction of Will’s political troubles implies it takes place at least a couple of years into his term.

The film easily could’ve posited a “Movie 2015” where Obama was never president, but instead it wants to have its comedic cake, a choice that muddies the already murky narrative waters. Yeah, I know all this is nitpicking to a degree, but it's sloppy and could've easily been fixed.

If the movie offered more fun, I wouldn't have minded these poor decisions too much, but Pixels provides sporadic laughs at best. It's a good premise but not especially well-executed, which seems like a shame, especially given the talent involved.

Sandler absorbs a lot of criticism, but he can be funny when he really tries. Unfortunately, Pixels relies too much on Lazy Adam, so the actor feels like he’s on cruise control.

The other actors do little to elevate the material as well, though Dinklage provides a few good moments. On the other hand, the movie totally wastes Jane Krakowski as the First Lady; she plays such a minor role that I don’t know why the producers bothered to cast her.

I do think some of the action scenes work reasonably well. The climax isn’t as exciting as it should be, but the Centipede and Pac-Man sequences offer rousing moments.

They’re just not enough. At its heart, Pixels enjoys a great concept, and it should’ve been a winner. As it stands, the movie occasionally amuses, but too much of it seems careless, sloppy and poorly designed. It’s mediocre at best.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus C-

Pixels appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie offered an excellent visual presentation.

Sharpness worked very well. Any instances of softness remained confined to a handful of interiors and seemed negligible, as overall definition appeared excellent. No signs of jaggies or moiré effects occurred, and I witnessed no edge haloes or print flaws.

In terms of palette, the movie often went with Hollywood Standard Teal and Orange. That said, the video game scenes allowed for a bit more variety, so other colors gave the film life. The tones appeared well-reproduced. Blacks were dark and deep, while shadows looked smooth and clear. The image satisfied.

I also liked the excellent Dolby Atmos soundtrack of Pixels. Because I don’t have an Atmos-equipped system, this played back as a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix, and it gave us an exciting presentation.

With so much action on display, the soundscape boasted many opportunities to shine, and it took advantage of them. The flick started a little slowly, but once the video game challenges entered the story, the elements used the various channels in an active, dynamic manner. Add to that nice stereo music and some directional dialogue to end up with an engrossing soundfield.

Audio quality also pleased. Music was peppy and full, while speech seemed natural and concise. Effects appeared dynamic and accurate, with solid low-end response. The soundtrack kicked into high gear often enough to earn an “A-“.

When we shift to extras, we find eight featurettes. These include “Pac-Man” (4:32), “Donkey Kong” (4:07), “Centipede” (3:36), “Galaga” (3:33), Dojo Quest” (4:20), “Qbert” (2:32), “God of the Machine” (1:36) and “The Space Invader” (1:40). Across these, we get comments from director Chris Columbus, visual effects supervisors Marten Larsson, Daniel Kramer and Matthew Butler, picture car supervisor Ryan Herem, executive producer Patrick Jean, special effects supervisor Burt Dalton, property master Timothy S. Wiles, costume designer Christine Wada, Pac-Man creator Toru Iwatani, contest winner Carson Jones, producer Allen Covert, and actors Michelle Monaghan, Josh Gad, Adam Sandler, Denis Akiyama, Affion Crockett, Matthew Lintz, Jared Riley and Ashley Benson.

The featurettes look at the movie’s use of the video game characters as well as cast and performances, sets and locations, stunts and action, various effects, and related domains. The programs tend toward technical areas offer decent information, even if they remain brief and somewhat superficial.

A music video (3:59) also appears for “Game On” by Waka Flocka Flame Featuring Good Charlotte. Both the song and the video are terrible – and someone might want to tell Mr. Flame that if he plans to go shirtless in a video, he should work out more. Waka Flabby Flame is more like it – ha!

We also find a Photo Gallery. This presents 41 stills that mostly deliver images from the film. It seems forgettable.

The disc opens with ads for Goosebumps, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, Aloha, Hotel Transylvania 2 and Ricki & The Flash. Previews includes the same promos. No trailer for Pixels appears here.

With a clever concept at work, Pixels looked like it would deliver lively summer entertainment. Instead, it brought us a lackluster action-comedy, one with too many poor choices and too little inspiration. The Blu-ray brings us excellent picture and audio but skimps on supplements. I can’t say I actively dislike Pixels, but it becomes a mediocre disappointment.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 5
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