Retro games have returned, angrier than ever!

Please note the review below may contain minor spoilers - I've done my best to keep them to a minimum.

What if 80ís video game characters decided to come alive and wreak havoc upon our planet? That is what Pixels, a family fun, action comedy aims to showcase, a premise which in itself was also borrowed from a short film.

Pixels begins in the mid 80ís heyday, everyone had a chopper bike and Arcades were actually a real thing. Within one of these noise-filled, seizure-inducing establishments, we find a young Brenner accompanied by his best friend Cooper; both entranced in all of the now retro classics from Pac-Man to Galaga. Itís not long until Brennerís adept skill in these games becomes a local attraction, catapulting him into the Arcade Championships.

Itís here that we get introduced to the like-minded - if a little bit off - Ludlow and arch-nemesis Eddie Plant aka ďThe Fire BlasterĒ - an hilarious riff on real life Arcade champion Billy Mitchell (King Of Kong). Unfortunately Brenner is bested by Eddie on Pac-Man in the finals and his dreams come to an end - taking home second place - but a partnership the event has with NASA, ensures the results along with the games themselves are sent into space within a capsule to mark the occasion.

Now 30 years later Brenner (Adam Sandler) finds himself in a slump, never quite getting over that loss to Eddie Plant or fulfilling his potential in life, instead he installs home equipment for a living where he stumbles upon recent divorcee Violet (Michelle Monaghan). His best friend Cooper (Kevin James) meanwhile has fulfilled his potential in spades, becoming the President of the United States - unfortunately not one with the highest of approval ratings.

Sadly today is not the greatest time to be President; aliens having found that capsule sent into space 30 years ago, have returned - believing that the games enclosed were a declaration of war. In retaliation the aliens have decided to invade planet Earth with those same video game characters, come to life - now itís up to the champions of these games to defeat them once again.

After having read the above plot synopsis, you are probably thinking this movie sounds insanely dumb - and it is. But Pixels isnít aiming to portray a deep story or heck even a good one, itís all just an excuse to have silly scenes with video game characters and above all else, to be fun. And it is for the most part, whilst Adam Sandler is pretty low-key within Pixels, the majority of your laughs will be coming from Josh Gad as Ludlow and Peter Dinklage in his quirkiest performance to date.

The special effects meanwhile are a visual-feast, taking the style and cues from the 2010 short movie Pixels is based on, and cranking up the ante some more. As a fan of 80ís video games, witnessing these characters - and levels - come to life is quite bizarre and offers a nostalgia trip for any fellow gamers out there.

It also helps that Pixels is extremely family friendly - whilst sporting a 12A rating - outside of a couple of Ďmatureí jokes and video game violence there really is nothing in Pixels that wouldnít warrant you bringing your children along. In fact I'd say Pixels attempts to straddle the line of Ghostbusters but replacing ghost's with video games, it just lacks that unique character that made those films so successful.

Obviously Pixels isnít perfect, with the plot so thin on the ground it does nothing for the largely throwaway cast of characters, which is sadly what we have come to expect from modern Sandler offerings - but keep an eye out for some fantastic if a little underused cameo's.

Look past Pixels flaws and youíll find an enjoyable hour and thirty minutes, that yes you will forget in a weeks time, but honestly I donít think Pixels is aiming to be anything more than a film for the Ďmomentí - something to take your mind off of your troubles - and in that regard it succeeds.

Pixels is currently available to buy on Blu-ray & DVD via Amazon or on-demand via Amazon Video.

  • Review by
    David Robinson

    Twitter: @5ypher

    Posted on
    1st August 2015

  • 3 Out of 5 Stars
  • Shallow plot

    Mainly throwaway characters

  • Peter Dinklage

    Visual effects

    Funny moments

Film Info

Pixels Pixels
Rating: 12A
Release Date: 12th August
Runtime: 1 hr 46 mins
Director: Chris Columbus
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Peter Dinklage & Josh Gad

  • Ghostbusters
  • Wreck-It Ralph
  • Bedtime Stories

Yes, the movie is unexpectedly tame offering only a few mature jokes and some video-game violence.

There is a brilliant 8-Bit credit sequence retelling the entire movie from start to finish.