My Thoughts On Adam Sandler’s Pixels
Pixels is the new Adam Sandler film based on the charming short by Patrick Jean. It’s about saving the world from aliens taking on the form of classic arcade video games. To be honest, my expectations were never particularly high for the film – Wreck-It Ralph being the only good game inspired film I’ve seen – but I was curious enough to want to see it. However, before its release I was pointed to a review that absolutely slates it. It seems it is now considered to be one of the worst films of 2015. It didn’t put us off going to see the film however as we wanted to judge it for ourselves. Could it be so bad that we’d find it entertaining or almost endearing? Had our expectations been set so low that it couldn’t possibly be as bad as we were thinking? Well, after seeing the film we definitely had a lot to complain about, but I still found I was able to enjoy its colourful and fun antics. Rather oddly the film also contains a handful of really interesting actors such as Peter Dinklage and Sean Bean.
When I first heard about the plot it sounded really silly, but somehow the film manages to put together an explanation that seems somewhat decent and believable. Unfortunately, there are also many plot conveniences that are lazy or make no sense. I won’t go into detail here as I don’t want to reveal any spoilers and there are already many reviews out there that cover these problems in detail. When there are too many mistakes in relation to the chosen subject matter, it suggests that they didn’t do the research to understand it or even care about it. As many gamers are very passionate about their interest, this can be a major obstacle to their ability to enjoy a film.
One of the issues that really bothered my friend was that at times the film appears to be insulting its own target audience – assuming that they are people with an interest in games. Many of the characters are based on tired stereotypes – the typical nerd. One of the characters for instance, is shown to be socially awkward and is in love with a video game character. Some of the humour also seems to revolve around making comparisons between the ‘nerds’ and the buff militaristic guys. I think this could be justified by explaining that a contrast was needed to show the transition of nerd to hero (along with the realization that all of that time spent playing games was worthwhile), but it could have been toned down a lot and still have the same affect. I try not to let this sort of thing bother me too much as I know that most game enthusiasts – and I’ve met a fair few – are not like these stereotypes and I can laugh it off because of how silly it really is; Although I do prefer a wider range of character types to be represented if possible.
It seemed to me like Pixels was confused about its target audience. If the aim was to create a nostalgic experience then presumably it’s for adults, but on the other hand most of the humour seemed very childish or just simply wasn’t funny. Mind, I also find it hard to believe that kids wouldn’t have heard of some of the classic games (such as Pacman) as the film implies, considering that they are cultural icons – or so I thought anyway. Then again the film also contains some drawn out romance scenes that were just predictable and not very entertaining for any kind of audience. The film shines when it comes to the colourful and bright interpretations of the games and everything else feels like a distraction from the fun. Unfortunately, I did feel that I’d already seen the best parts in the trailer already.
Despite the niggles, I wouldn’t say it was anywhere near being one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. I found I was still able to engage with the plot/characters and enjoy it, which is more than I can say for others that I have attempted to watch (I couldn’t even make it to the end of Mr. Turner.) In answer to my initial questions, while I understand why Pixels has so many negative reviews it turned out to be better than I expected; Despite all of the problems it was still somewhat entertaining to watch. I’ve always considered games to be great because they are something we choose to do for fun. Games are not always meant to be taken seriously and this could be said for Pixels as well. There were moments where it seemed to me like they were just trying to have a good time with it. At one point during the film I found myself longing to play some of the classics again. In some ways it felt like they were more focussed on gameplay with clean and precise mechanics; As Adam Sandler’s character himself mentions, you have to be able to spot the patterns to play them well.
I get the feeling that the film Pixels irks a lot of people because the idea behind it is actually pretty cool and we want to love it, but there are just too many flaws. It always disappoints me when something that could have been great falls short or in this case plummets.
… Also, giant Pacman is kinda creepy :O.