So I saw Pixels a couple of years ago and forgot I wrote this blog post. I find it hilarious and wanted to share it even though it’s an old entry.
So, a couple friends of mine wanted to see Pixels (they love watching bad movies–think Iron Sky). I was slightly hung over and thought, “what the hell?” But Hell was all too correct of a term for the film.
In case Peter Dinklage’s eyes weren’t screaming “WHY?!” loud enough in every shot.
First I’ll say it–there were entertaining portions of the movie. It technically was a popcorn flick that didn’t ask much of me. The visual effects were very well done. I even have met several moviegoers under the age of five who thought it was amazing–so maybe someone somewhere knew it would break even. Who knows.
That said it was a miserable excuse of a film (and I saw “I Zombie: The Chronicles of Pain” from start to finish without intoxication). Firstly the basics–the characters make no sense. Their motivations and lack thereof is comically bad. Seriously–losing an arcade tournament when you are twelve doesn’t mean you are forever twelve. It means you have deep-seated emotional traumas that you should seek help for. Or optionally, you’re Adam Sandler.
Secondly, there is a lot of weird sexual things in a film that is targeted at those younger than what should be interesting or relatable to. Like why does the side-kick make so many rape jokes? They are unintentional by the character but carrying chloroform around and saying no one visits you willingly is kind of an indication that you aren’t exactly young child comedy. It’s more like an awful person who should know better writing dialog for a film targeted to emotionally stunted fratboys. Also, there is this whole thing where Dinklage’s character is a terrible human to every woman in the film and at the end gets his wildest sexual fantasy fulfilled… cause male empowerment fantasy.
Thirdly the film’s story is so flimsy that Uwe Boll would option for doing the sequel. Seriously, why does an advanced alien race that can create artificial life out of holograms or something need to give Earth a chance to defend itself? Why are there rules to pixelated warfare? The aliens cheat by not exactly announcing that they are attacking, change the rules of every game they bring into the world, and then in force made up rules on the humans for cheating! It makes no sense.
That problem is that would have been interesting to explore. Do these aliens want the Earth and have to follow certain invasion guidelines? Do they have a pencil pushing boss who is really riding their tail to make the games better? Are these loopholes created just as entrapment to conquer Earth?
If any of these things aren’t true then they could have just glassed the planet from orbit without warning. If they are light based plasma life forms then they don’t need organic matter to survive on the planet anyway. If they are plasma based life wouldn’t any old rock work? If they aren’t plasma based life then why would they go through the effort of giving them consciousness like Q-Bert?
You know why? Because some half-baked money-grubbing exec didn’t know and didn’t care. He saw that kids like Minecraft and that Adam Sandler would literally do anything.
This is why I think the film is trash. It was so lazy in every way (except the CGI work–kudos) that it just felt dead on arrival. For example, why was Adam’s character the president of the United State’s best friend? It would have been just as funny if they called the gamers together because of the tournament they were all in together. It would have been quicker, left fewer plot holes, and have been just as ripe for delivering jokes.
Seriously this film would have been much better as either a comedy about “video games came to life oh no!” or “my best friend in chief” but doing both watered down any chance this film had of having time to be a good film.
And that doesn’t even get to the absolutely abysmal treatment of woman as literal trophies that they spend way too much time on for nearly no laughs and even more junk thrown into the film for no reason.
Okay, okay–I have to stop there about the film’s “story” and get to my point. This film was supposedly about games and gamers but is actually a big budget slap to the face.
Every chance they got, they made fun of gamers. Every chance they got, they said playing games is bad. Every chance they got, they said playing games ever was a waste of your life. Seriously?
At one point Adam Sandler runs a centipede down on foot and kills it with a laser rifle thing. A kid in the street nearly died but was saved by our loud showboating protagonist. He asked, “Who are you?” Adam says, “Just some loser who is really good at old video games.”
Not only, but any character that is good at games doesn’t have a girlfriend or romantic interest at the start of the film. Almost as if gaming makes you loser. The president (who was not good at games and could only work the claw machine) has a wife and is successful. Every gamer in the movie is literally a basement dwelling troll.
In one scene Adam watches a kid playing a first person shooter (at DARPA because reasons, I don’t know) and screams about how violence is bad, new games are garbage, and it hurts your mind. Q-Bert gets so scared from the rant that he pees pixels. Then Adam complains that there’s no pattern to new games. The kid replies you just pretend you don’t want to die and play.
Except here’s the thing–that’s not true. All games have patterns they just seem more or less structured. Most first person shooters are just highly complex patterns with several possible variations. That is to say Skyrim is Pac-Man but on a much higher level when it comes to the enemy AI.
Why am I being nit-picky? Why does it matter? Because this kind of misunderstanding of games and gaming is sewn into every byte of the film so intensely that I doubt the filmmakers even knew a gamer or consulted any before filming or even writing the idea out on a napkin. Or hey, maybe there was a staff writer who games but anytime he talked they just kept screaming boner jokes at him till he shut up.
Take for example the big climax when the aliens say Earth has cheated in the games they never agreed to anyway and begin dropping every voxel creature they have off on the Earth. They say Peter Dinklage cheated during Pac-Man so they can invade without any issues. Except that there are no cheat codes in the original Pac-Man (especially for the ghosts). There are dominate strategies built into mistakes in the programming (basically a puzzle) due to the limitations of the hardware but there are no cheat codes.
Dinklage goes on to say he won the world championship in Donkey Kong against Sandler because of a cheat code–that also doesn’t exist. You can gain extra lives but there isn’t a button combination that will give you super speed or infinite hammers or anything a world arcade championship referee/all attendees wouldn’t immediately notice and call out. This is the laziest, most stupid, and terrible thing about the movie. The creator’s complete misunderstanding of everything revolving around their subject matter is a total slap in the face to the viewer.
Not that gaming or gamers are exactly a cultural apex that deserves any kind of special protection but rather it’s insulting to take material you obviously know nothing about and make a film about it. It’s insulting to the viewer in general for hoping they will be too stupid to notice. This is the equivalent of someone getting shot in a crime movie only to say, “You fool-haha! Bullets heal people! Haha! I feel better everytime you shot me not worse.” as if that was just a fact of life the movie forgot to tell the viewer.
Even crazier–gamers are even defending the trash. On any given article saying the film is bad, there are literally hundreds of poorly worded defenses saying things like, “Why you no like Adam Sandler? You sound like Tumblr feminotsay! I like movie. It real good.” I have to assume each and every word of those comments is written by the cast under fake names. There is not a way people actually saw the film and thought, “Yup, I like their depiction of my hobby and they are definitely being respectful of people like me.” I mean… right? Tell me these aren’t real people?!
This film was a waste of space on the hard drives that recorded it. If I had snuck into the theater, I’d still ask for a refund. Like a modern Garfield, I’ll think a little less of everyone that worked on this film. Unless this was to evade taxes, there is no defensible argument that this project was ever in any conceivable way a good idea. The film is total trash. But HEY! Don’t take my word for it. Hate watch a copy today from Amazon!