Oh, boy… August 2015 really wasn’t a good month for cinema, with particular travesties including Fantastic Four, The Bad Education Movie, Barely Lethal, Sinister 2 and Hitman: Agent 47. Pixels perfectly rounds off the August misery. The film’s reception since its release has been universally negative with many people talking about how hatefully terrible it is or how it’s by far their worst film of the year. However, the worst thing about Pixels is that it’s nothing like that interesting, instead being completely plodding and dull from beginning to end. It’s more baffling how by-the-numbers director Chris Columbus (the man who gave us the first two Harry Potter films) could’ve made something that was way more lacklustre, uneventful and inept than both I Love You Beth Cooper and Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief.
The film lacks any logical brain or bone in its body, looking as though it was probably seven or eight edits away from making some form of real sense. The jokes are sigh-inducingly bad and are very lazy in execution, with a notable example being early on when both Adam Sandler and Kevin James talk about celebrities that they fancy, Sandler saying that they should stop doing it at their age and then talking about how Kevin’s wife hates him. However, when we meet the wife later on, she doesn’t hate him at all, and this perfectly shows how all the other gags in the film make no common sense and appear to have been taken from a whole different movie. Even the action sequences don’t appear to have been thought through in any logical way at all, despite the amount of carnage that’s on screen. Admittedly, all the CGI was really well done and the realisation of the alien pixels was beautifully realised, but that’s not saying much when everything around that was badly played out.
Adam Sandler is surprisingly the least of the film’s problems because all he’s doing is just phoning it in and is less repugnant than he has been in the past. Kevin James is staggeringly unfunny (unsurprisingly) and both Josh Gad and Michelle Monaghan are poorly utilised. Sean Bean, Brian Cox and Fiona Shaw all turn up for glorified cameos and pick up what must have been very large cheques indeed. The most baffling and surprising thing about the cast is how amazingly terrible Peter Dinklage is since he’s currently one of the finest actors working in both cinema and television and is a brilliant mercurial talent in all the roles he’s done, yet not even he can make this any better.
Despite having an intriguing Ghostbusters-like premise with schlubby guys battling creatures (in this case aliens taking on the form of video game characters), that idea is played out in the most illogical and most mediocre way possible. Sure, this is a film about video game icons like Space Invaders, Pac-Man and Donkey Kong invading the Earth, but even the most ludicrous of ideas need to have internal logic at its centre. Disney’s Wreck-it-Ralph was a film about video game characters colliding, yet that was executed fabulously with brilliant internal logic and having real heart and soul. Pixels, on the other hand, appears to have been ripped off from a whole bunch of other movies (all of which made sense) and is in the end unfunny, crass, witless, extremely dull and a bit annoying.
PIXELS / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: CHRIS COLUMBUS / SCREENPLAY: TIM HERLIHY, TIMOTHY DOWLING / STARRING: ADAM SANDLER, KEVIN JAMES, MICHELLE MONAGHAN, JOSH GAD, PETER DINKLAGE, BRIAN COX / RELEASE DATE: DECEMBER 7TH