Directed by Chris Columbus, “Pixels” is a sci-fi entertainer based on French director Patrick Jean’s 2010 released short film of the same name.
The narration begins in the summer of 1982 when best friends Sam Brenner and Will Cooper attend the First Worldwide Video Arcade Championships. It is here that they meet a nerdy Ludlow Lamonsoff, who is infatuated with the computer game character, Lady Lisa.
Sam breezes into the finals where he meets his nemesis Eddie Plant, the self-proclaimed Fire Blaster, who defeats him for the title.
Years later, an unkempt looking Sam (Adam Sandler) works as an electronics installer for a Geek Squad. His friend Will (Kevin James) is the president of the US, and Ludlow is a conspiracy theorist.
Meanwhile, a military base in Guam is attacked by some unexplained forces. Sam and Will notice that there is a similarity between the attackers and the video game “Galaga”.
They eventually realise that aliens attacking our planet have developed weapons resembling classic video game characters like Pac Man, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders and Centipede to challenge and ultimately conquer Earth.
Realising that the US armed forces are ill-equipped to handle the situation, Will turns to Sam as he feels that he is uniquely qualified to save the world because he has studied the patterns of the old school video games.
Sam in turn ropes in Ludlow (Josh Gad) and Eddie (Peter Dinklage) to help him save the world from annihilation.
The plot, written by Tim Herlihy and Timothy Dowling, is clumsily structured. It is perfunctory, weak and mediocre with sexist gags and childish buffoonery. The story lacks logic, motivation and conviction. The characters too, are cardboard thin and unbearably annoying.
On the performance front, the actors seem to be walking through their roles, having a bonhomie time on screen and not bothered about their performances. The entire drill seems like a big house party recorded for a home video.
In this male dominated scenario, the only exception is actress Michelle Monaghan, who plays Lieutenant Colonel Violet Van Patten. She is Sam’s love interest, who he meets while installing a TV for her son Maddy (Matt Lintz). She brings some depth to her character through a meaningful performance. But unfortunately, this romance sub-plot is underdeveloped like Ludlow and Lady Lisa’s track and hence she is lost in the maze.
With poor production quality, the visuals too seem affected. Several sequences are crammed with designs that are not aesthetic or pleasing to the eye. The computer generated images seem to be of a bygone era. They are of an unexceptionally low quality, sloppy and garish. The 3D effects too do not elevate the viewing experience.
Overall, the film is disappointing as it fails to recreate the nostalgia and honesty that was reflected in the short film.