Blu-ray Review: Pixels

PixelsBluSTUDIO: Sony | DIRECTOR: Chris Columbus | CAST: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad, Sean Bean, Jane Krakowski, Ashley Benson
RELEASE DATE: 10/27/15 | PRICE: DVD $30.99, Blu-ray 3D $45.99, Blu-ray $38.99
BONUSES: featurettes, music video,
SPECS: PG-13 | 106 min. | Science fiction action comedy | 2.39:1 widescreen | Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1/DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Indonesian, Korean, Mandarin and Thai subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio  | Video  | Overall

After hearing so much negative buzz about the sci-fi action-comedy Pixels, I had to get a gander at this latest Adam Sandler (Jack and Jill) flick—particularly with the knowledge that it’s one of his most successful films to date, ringing up some $244 million at the international box office.

Sandler is Sam Brenner, a one-time Eighties video game champion whose digital talents haven’t taken him very far in his adult life, even as his fellow old-school buddy Will Cooper (Kevin James, The Dilemma) has become President of the United States. Things quickly change after interstellar aliens misinterpret video-feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war and then attack Earth using large-scale, pixelated versions of such games as Pac-Man, Galaga, Centipede, and Space Invaders. When the military fails to quell the invasion, President Cooper calls in Brenner and a dysfunctional team of old-school arcaders (Game of Thrones‘ Peter Dinklage and Thanks For Sharing‘s Josh Gad) to take on the aliens and save the planet.

Pixels-1_optEmbracing the culture of the Eighties like Sandler’s The Wedding Singer and, more recently, That’s My Boy—the aliens go so far as to project images of Hall & Oates, Ronald Reagan and Max Headroom to announce their attacks—Pixels does not smack of the laziness, juvenility and mildly sexist raunchiness that categorizes so many of Sandler’s other movies. True, there’s a sexy digitized warrior (Ashley Benson, Spring Breakers) from a fictional video game whose sole purpose appears to be to kick ass for a minute or two and then hook up with an ogling Josh Gad. But balancing that out is leading lady Michelle Monaghan (True Detective) as a fully clad military weapons specialist who calls out Sandler on his trademark man-child shtick…before hooking up with him later on. (Hey, by that point he’s saved the world!) The human scenes are all served up with a sense of fun and they comfortably abet the numerous clashes between the arcaders and the pixelated bad guys, the visual effects of which are colorful, vibrant and really cool. Director Chris Columbus (Home Alone) is probably the one to thank for keeping it all lively, fun and not too silly. The bottom line, for me, at least, is that Pixels is quite enjoyable, with a fun premise, good-looking effects, an acceptable performance by Sandler and a cast of supporting players that seem to be having a good time.

The bonus features on the disc are limited, led by a half-dozen short featurettes that look at the film’s various classic video game characters, as well as Ashley Benson’s Lady Lisa. There are also a short piece on Pac-Man creator Toru Iwatani, who has a cameo as an arcade repairman, and another on a recent video game champ who scored a small part in the film. There’s no making-of featurette detailing Pixels‘ origins and development–it was based on 2010 French animated short of the same name–which I would have liked to have seen.


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.