Director: Chris Columbus
Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Josh Gad
Release Date: Now Available on 3D & 2D Blu-ray, DVD & Digital HD
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 6.5/10
Disc Rating: 8/10
When aliens misinterpret video-feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war against them, they attack the Earth using games like PAC-MAN, Donkey Kong, Galaga, Centipede and Space Invaders as models for their various assaults. President Will Cooper (Kevin James) has to call on his childhood best friend, 80s video game champion Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler) to lead a team of old-school arcaders (Peter Dinklage and Josh Gad) to defeat the aliens and save the planet.
When a capsule filled with classic arcade games sent into space years prior is discovered by an alien species it’s mistakenly taken as an act of aggression initiating a challenge between our planet theirs, the stakes being the losers planet which will be annihilated upon their defeat. With no better options available, the President (James) brings in his lifelong friend and video game genius Brenner (Sandler) to help fight the alien menace which has chosen to attack in the form of such classic arcade games as Pac-man, Centipede and more. Accompanied by a brilliant whiz kid (Gad) and Eddie (Dinklage), a prison inmate and the only old school gamer possibly better than Brenner, the group gears up and gets ready for war with the fate of the world resting on their shoulders.
Directed by Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Harry Potter 1 & 2) from a screenplay by Tim Herlihy and Timothy Dowling and based upon the short film by Patrick Jean, Columbus does a more than capable job at the helm of ‘Pixels’ and delivers a fun and visually impressive film. The cast is comprised of numerous well known individuals, many of whom are certainly no strangers to goofy comedy films such as this including Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad, Brian Cox and Sean Bean among others, all of whom deliver capable performances at the very least, although Josh Gad and Peter Dinklage easily steal the show and are responsible for the majority of the film’s most hilarious and memorable moments.
‘Pixels’ is a goofy, funny and generally enjoyable little romp chocked full of classic video game characters brought to new life and up against the most unlikely group of heroes possible. While it may not be the most phenomenal film or anything that will make waves, the bad word of mouth has certainly been somewhat exaggerated to say the least and ‘Pixels’ is a fun and visually impressive good time, not to mention bringing to the table even more enjoyment with the barrage of flashbacks for those such as me who grew up playing games such as these. The 3D version of ‘Pixels’ contributes even more fun and I consistently found myself with a grin on my face during a large portion of the film as these classic pixilated characters continued to fly out of the screen at me. As long as you don’t go in expecting a groundbreaking Oscar winner, ‘Pixels’ is a lot of fun and a perfect selection for a lazy movie night that requires a simpler film full of comedic action and laughs.
The 3D Blu-ray release of ‘Pixels’ features a full 1080p High Definition MVC encoded 3D presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The 3D video presentation looks pretty great as a whole, delivering a sharp, detailed presentation with plenty of depth and activity popping out of the screen, some of which even occasionally makes its way into the black borders on the top and bottom of the screen. Everything looks continually solid throughout and aside from some very minor instances of crosstalk it holds up impressively and delivers one incredibly fun 3D experience.
The 2D Blu-ray release which is also included in the 3D Blu-ray combo pack features an AVC encoded full high definition video presentation also representing the film’s original 2.40:1 Aspect Ratio. The 2D video presentation is superior even in comparison to the generally impressive 3D presentation, delivering a crisp and gorgeous video presentation that suffers no apparent faults of any sort and looks marvelous.
Overall, while the 2D video presentation may be slightly superior, the 3D experience definitely contributes a great deal of fun for this film and I can say with near certainty that I would select 3D for all future viewings of the film regardless.
Oddly enough, the 3D Blu-ray and Standard Blu-ray versions contain completely different audio soundtracks. The 3D Blu-ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless multichannel soundtrack sounds pretty great and provides a sharp, clean and consistently aggressive audio presentation, utilizing all five available channels in order to surround the viewer with the soundtrack and plenty of pixilated monsters and gunfire constantly swarming throughout the channels during the battle sequences, while never causing any dialogue which may be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible.
The 2D Blu-ray disc included in the Combo Pack on the other hand includes a Dolby Atmos (TrueHD 7.1 compatible) soundtrack which (unsurprisingly) is easily the superior of the two. This lossless multichannel hits far harder than the 5.1 DTS-HD MA track and also provides some notably improved clarity when comparing sequences between the two versions, utilizing a bitrate of more than twice that of the other. While the other soundtrack contained no issues or faults, this impressive Dolby Atmos (TrueHD 7.1 compatible) soundtrack only accentuates everything about the audio presentation.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Pixels’ includes a number of fun bonus goodies, all of which can be found on the 2D disc (although for the fellow Trailer fans out there, the 3D disc does include 3D trailers for ‘The Walk’ ‘Hotel Transylvania 2’ and ‘Goosebumps’). Included on the release is the ability to join in using the ‘Pixels Play Along Game App’ in addition to a few fun videos including ‘Game On – Music Video by Waka Flocka Flame Ft. Good Charlotte’ (running approximately 4 minutes), and ‘The Space Invader’ (running approximately 2 minutes in length) which follows the winner of a game contest as he heads to the set of the film for his cameo. We are additionally treated to numerous short Behind the Scenes Featurettes featuring behind the scenes footage and interviews with members of the cast and crew that each explore different aspects of bringing these classic video game characters to life and more; the Featurettes include: ‘Pac-Man’ (running approximately 5 minutes), ‘Donkey Kong’ (approximately 4 minutes), ‘Centipede’ (4 minutes), ‘Galaga’ (4 minutes), ‘Dojo Quest’ (4 minutes), ‘Qbert’ (3 minutes), and ‘God of the Machine’ (2 minutes). A ‘Photo Gallery’ is also included.