Why is it so hard to make a solid video game movie? I mean, Wreck-It Ralph was a fantastic anomaly; but movies like Doom, any Mortal Kombat flick, Max Payne, and that infamous Super Mario Bros. movie have all failed to live up to the games they were based off of. Pixels had the idea—I wouldn’t exactly call it bright—to combine all our favorite arcade games into one movie—in a way like Wreck-It Ralph—and throw Adam Sandler, Kevin James, and Josh Gad in it for…comedy? What we get is just a mess of a completely forgettable movie that somehow got funding.
The only good thing about Pixels is—for some reason—that it goes by really fast. After aliens invade earth after misinterpreting video game feeds sent into space back in the 80s, President Kevin James—I don’t even remember the character’s name and don’t care to look it up, but yeah, Kevin James is a Chris Christie-esque president—enlists a group of nerds consisting of Adam Sandler, Josh Gad, and Peter Dinklage to save the world with their geeky abilities.
Still with me? Well, the movie proceeds like a poorly made video game where enemies just come out of nowhere, and each major battle is like a poorly arranged boss fight. In between these cacophonies of bright colors, painful humor, and absolute nonsense, we get a chance to get to know the even more boring characters. Sandler plays a form of a Best Buy Geek Squad representative, Gad is a crazy conspiracy theorist, and Dinklage plays an ex-video game champion turned convict.
You can give Pixels a little credit for somewhat trying to please a large number of fandoms, but all of them get mixed up between the barrage of Star Wars references, the 80s soundtrack, and the groan-worthy one-liners delivered by mostly everyone in the film. There are some scenes that just go on way too long in trying to squeeze every laugh possible like a scene where a kid is taking a selfie in front of the Taj Mahal as it is being destroyed—it has no relevance at all to the theme of the film or even video games in general. Yet, somehow, the director thought “Why not?”
Pixels is an undeniable mess. With hardly any redeeming factors, you won’t be wanting to pop another quarter in and press “Continue.” Its constant attempts to be funny and relevant, with hardly anyone relatable to nerds today, ultimately make you want to spend your quarters on the actual video games the film tries to honor. You’ll never be this thankful to see Game Over flashing on a screen again.