Honest Trailers – Pixels
From the studio with a resounding 20% average on Rotten Tomatoes comes a classic video game movie that could have been really cool until Sandler got his hands on it – PIXELS!
Pixels is a 2015 American science fiction action-comedy film produced by Columbia Pictures, 1492 Pictures and Happy Madison Productions. The film was directed by Chris Columbus. Its screenplay was written by Tim Herlihy and Timothy Dowling, with a screen story penned by Tim Herlihy and based on French director Patrick Jean’s 2010 short film of the same name. The film features computer animated video games characters, special effects, and stars Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Josh Gad, Peter Dinklage, Michelle Monaghan, Brian Cox, Ashley Benson, and Jane Krakowski. The film’s plot has extraterrestrialsmisinterpreting video-feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war, and invading Earth using technology inspired by games such as Pac-Man and Space Invaders. To counter the alien assault, the United States hire former arcade champions to lead the planet’s defense.
Columbia Pictures hired Entura International, described as a copyright troll by Ars Technica, to send Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notices to websites hosting user-uploaded videos of the film.The company proceeded to file DMCA takedown notices indiscriminately against several Vimeo videos containing the word “Pixels” in the title, including the 2010 award-winning short film the film is based on, the official film trailer, a 2006 independently produced Cypriot film uploaded by the Independent Museum of Contemporary Art, a 2010 university work by a student of the Bucharest National University of Arts, a royalty free stock footage clip and an independently produced project. The takedown notice sent by Entura falsely claimed that the works infringe a copyright they had the right to enforce, and once the notice was made public, it was withdrawn
Pixels was critically panned. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a 17% approval rating based on 168 reviews; the average rating is 3.8/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “Much like the worst arcade games from the era that inspired it, Pixels has little replay value and is hardly worth a quarter”. On Metacritic, the film has a score of 27 out of 100, based on 37 critics, indicating “generally unfavorable reviews”. On CinemaScore, cinema audiences gave the film an average grade of “B” on A+ to F scales.
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film one star out of four, calling it “a 3D metaphor for Hollywood’s digital assault on our eyes and brains” and deeming it “relentless and exhausting”. In Salon.com, Andrew O’Hehir called the film “another lazy Adam Sandler exercise in 80s nostalgia”, as well as “an overwhelmingly sad experience” characterized by “soul-sucking emptiness”. The Guardian called it “casually sexist, awkwardly structured, bro-centric” and warned, “Pity the poor souls who go into the comedy blockbuster thinking they’ve signed up to watch The Lego Movie by way of Independence Day. They’ll be disappointed”. Joe Neumaier of the New York Daily News gave the film no stars and wrote: “Someone please retire Adam Sandler. Pixels is the last straw for this has-been. . . . Every joke is forced, every special effect is un-special. . . . The dipstick Pixels is about as much fun as a joystick and not even half as smart”. “It manages to achieve the weird effect of feeling overlong and choppy at the same time, like someone edited the film with a pair of garden shears,” wrote Randy Cordova in The Arizona Republic. Kyle Smith wrote in the New York Post that Pixels is “as adolescent as a zit” with jokes “as fresh as the antique store”.
“Everything is wrong here,” wrote Megan Garber in The Atlantic Monthly, “cinematically, creatively, maybe even morally. Because Pixels is one of those bad movies that isn’t just casually bad, or shoot-the-moon bad, or too-close-to-the-sun bad, or actually kind of delightfully bad. It is tediously bad. It is bafflingly bad. It is, in its $90 million budget and 104-minute run time, wastefully bad. Its badness seems to come not from failure in the classic sense—a goal set, and unachieved—but from something much worse: laziness. Ambivalence. A certain strain of cinematic nihilism”. Peter Sobczynski, writing for rogerebert.com, called the premise promising but the execution “abysmal.”
CinemaBlend film reviewer Mike Reyes, however, gave the film 4 stars out of 5, writing, “Pixels is one of those fun summer movies you’ve missed since you were a kid … it’s also extremely funny and vastly entertaining … with thrilling action, stunning visuals, and some really well timed comedy”. According to a B+ review by Lights Camera Jackson, “Pixels is one of the most original and enjoyable movies of the year … a smart and often very funny summer action comedy.”