Pixels (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
October 25, 2015 by Dennis Amith
If you are a fan of Adam Sandler films, one who grew up in the ’80s playing video games in the arcades or just someone who enjoys popcorn sci-fi action films, then definitely give “Pixels” a try!
FILM RELEASE: 2015
DURATION: 106 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 Aspect Ratio), English 7.1 Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible), Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French, Spanish, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Audio Description Dolby Surround, Subtitles: English SDH, Cantonese, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, French, Indonesian/Bahasa, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RATED: PG-13 (Some Langue and Suggestive Comments)
Release Date: October 27, 2015
Directed by Chris Columbus
Screenplay by Tim Herlihy, Timothy Dowling
Short Film by Patrick Jean
Executive Producers: Johnny Alves, Barry Bernardi, Matias Boucard, Benjamin Darras, Jack Giarraputo, Seth Gordon, Tim Herlihy, Patrick Jean, Steve Koren, Heather Parry, Ben Waisbren
Produced by Michael Barnathan, Chris Columbus, Allen Covert, Mark Radcliffe, Adam Sandler
Co-Producer: Kevin Grady
Associate Producer: Yuka Kato, Lyn Lucibello
Music by Henry Jackman
Cinematography by Amir mokri
Edited by Peck Prior, Hughes Winborne
Casting by John Buchan, Angela Demo, Jason Knight, Barbara J. McCarthy
Production Design by Peter Wenham
Art Direction: Ramsey Avery, Steve Christensen, Luke Freeborn, Peter Grundy, Richard L. Johnson
Set Decoration by Leor boshi, Rosemary Brandenburg
Costume Design by Christine Wada
Adam Sandler as Brenner
Kevin James as Cooper
Michelle Monaghan as Violet
Peter Dinklage as Eddie
Josh Gad as Ludlow
Matt Lintz as Matty
Brian Cox as Admiral Porter
Sean Bean as Corporal Hill
Jane Krakowski as First Lady Jane Cooper
Dan Aykroyd as 1982 Championship MC
Ashley Benson as Lady Lisa
When aliens misinterpret video-feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war against them, they attack the Earth, using the 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.
In 2015, the sci-fi action-comedy “Pixels” hit theaters and grossing over $237 million worldwide.
Based on French filmmaker Patrick Jean’s 2010 short film, “Pixels” is directed by Chris Columbus (“Home Alone” films, the first two “Harry Potter” films, “Mrs. Doubtfire”) and a screenplay by Tim Herlihy (“The Wedding Singer”, “Saturday Night Live”) and Timothy Dowling (“Role Models”, “This Means War”, “Just Go With It”).
The film stars Adam Sandler (“Happy Gilmore”, “Big Daddy”, “Grown Ups” films), Kevin James (“Her Comes the Boom”, “Hitch”, “Paul Blart: Mall Cop”, “The King of Queens”), Michelle Monaghan (“Eagle Eye”, “Gone Baby Gone”, “Source Code”), Peter Dinklage (“Game of Thrones”, “X-Men: Days of Future Past”, “The Station Agent”) and Josh Gad (“21”, “Jobs”, “Love & Other Drugs”).
And now, “Pixels” will be released on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD in October 2015.
The film begins in 1982 as 13-year old Sam Brenner and his good friend Will Cooper go to the arcade and Sam would dominate various video games such as “Pac-Man”, “Centipede”, “Astroids” to name a few. They meet an 8-year old conspiracy theorist/video gamer named Ludlow Lamonsoff (who is addicted to Lady Lisa of “Dojo Quest”) to join their crew and eventual Sam does so well that he is encouraged to enter the arcade game world championships. The announcer (potrayed by Dan Aykroyd) tells participants that the video of the competition will be beamed to out of space.
The competition begins and Sam would eventually go on to the finals to take on the conceited fan favorite, Eddie Plant in “Donkey Kong” and ends up coming short.
But Will tries to boost his confidence that he will go to MIT and become a better person.
Fast forward to the present-time and Sam (portrayed by Adam Sandler) is working for a home theater installation company and his friend Will (portrayed by Kevin James) is the President of the United States. Unfortunately, the President has a low approval rating and with his mistakes caught on camera, people look at him as worthless as a leader.
As Brenner takes on a call for another installation job, he enters the home of Violet Van Patten (portrayed by Michelle Monaghan) and her son Matty (portrayed by Matt Lintz). Violet is going through difficult times as her husband left her for another woman.
As Sam goes to get her to sign the work completed contract, he hears her crying in the closet and he tries to comfort her. But after talking, he tries to make a move on her which she is shocked and pushes him away. Needless to say, their first introduction to each other didn’t go quite well and Sam thinks of her as a snob that goes after men who makes great money and status.
As Sam is called on Will to come to the White House, he sees Violet also going to the same location (thinking she is a stalker) but Violet turns out to be a Lt. Col. and a unique weapons developer and military specialist.
Meanwhile in Guam, a base is attacked by aliens that resemble the video game “Galaga”.
Will has asked Sam to get his thoughts on the attack and Sam recognizes the attack pattern from the original “Galaga” arcade game. But when Sam tries to tell his staff of the National Defense that the attack is not from another country and the pattern is of a video game, he is not taken seriously and told to leave.
As Sam leaves the White House, he finds out that Ludlow (portrayed by Josh Gad) has snuck into his van because he needs to show him of signals he had intercepted of a pending attack on the US and that second attack will take place in India.
Once again, Sam tries to warn Will, this time with Ludlow’s help, but no one is listening until it happens.
Now, Sam, Ludlow and Sam’s video game nemesis, Eddie Plant must protect the world from the video game alien onslaughts. Win the game, they will save the planet from destruction, lose the game and the planet will be decimated.
Can these old video gamers win the game?
“Pixels” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). The film features amazing clarity, plenty of colors and vibrancy. CG elements looked wonderful and for the most part, most of it looks very good in the realistic setting. Picture quality is absolutely fantastic! I did not see any major banding, macroblocking issues during my viewing of the film.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Pixels” is presented in English 7.1 Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1), Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French, Spanish, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Audio Description Track 2.0. The lossless soundtrack is fantastic! Great use of the surround channels and LFE. Dialogue, music and even the ’80s sounds are crystal clear that audiophiles should be thrilled with the overall soundtrack.
Subtitles are in English SDH, Cantonese, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, French, Indonesian/Bahasa, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai
“Pixels” comes with the following special features:
- Pac-Man – (4:31) The making of the “Pac-Man” action sequence.
- Donkey Kong– (4:07) The making of the “Donkey Kong” action sequence
- Centipede – (3:34) The making of the “Centipede” action sequence.
- Galaga – (3:30) The making of the “Galaga” action sequence.
- Dojo Quest – (4:15) How “Dojo Quest” was created for the film and hiring of Amy Benson as Lady Lisa.
- QBert – (2:27) A featurette on the creation of the Qbert character.
- God of the Machine – (1:35) A featurette about having “Pac-Man” creator Toru Iwatani in the film.
- Game On Music Video – (3:59) Featuring Waka Flocka flame ft. Good Charlotte
- The Space Invader – (1:38) A short featuretted of the “Pixar” arcade at “San Diego Comic Con” and a winner of the game getting to appear on the “Pixels” film.
- Photo Gallery – A photo gallery of stills from “Pixels”.
“Pixels” comes with a slipcover and an Ultraviolet code.
I happened to grow up during the time of video game arcades, going along with my then-teenage aunt and using quarters given to me by my grandmother to play “Pac-Man”, “Donkey Kong”, “Centipede”, “Astroids”, “Berzerk” and “Sinistar” and thinking as a child, how awesome to hear the song “Pac-Man” fever was.
The arcade scene was an important time for those who grew up in the ’80s and video games were a form of entertainment that was much better than what we could ever have on our “Odyssey”, “Atari 2600” and “Intelivision” because of the audio and better graphics.
It was no doubt an escape and all your friends could be seen at the local arcade. And if not there, you can find the games at a variety of areas such as the bowling alley, super market, pizza restaurant, etc.
So, when I first saw trailers for the Happy Madison film “Pixels”, I couldn’t help but laugh and wanting to see this film and see what kind of comedy both Adam Sandler and Kevin James can bring to the film.
Of course, it’s a bit farfetched seeing Kevin James play a bumbling President of the United States and seeing Adam Sandler’s as the home theater repair guy getting access in the White House so easily. But for those who are familiar with Happy Madison, let alone Adam Sandler or Kevin James films, its best to let all thoughts of realism and throw it out the window and just enjoy the film for the next 106 minutes.
Seeing how these video gamers now in their ’40s trying to stop aliens fashioned after popular ’80s video games is amusing and entertaining and of course, there is a lot of moronic situations but again, if you watched a Sandler/James film, it’s something that you are used to and you either enjoy the comedy or you don’t.
“Pixels” looks absolutely gorgeous on Blu-ray. The vibrant colors of the film is fantastic, the lossless soundtrack is wonderfully immersive and there are quite a few special features included that give you insight on the making of various scenes in the film.
I know I am a bit biased because I did play video games like crazy at the arcades during the ’80s and I did compete with friends many times as a youngster. I’m also a fan of Happy Madison films and no matter how obnoxious or crazy the films are, I managed to find amusement and ways to enjoy the film, no matter how silly or farfetched situations can be.
Overall, if you are a fan of Adam Sandler films, one who grew up in the ’80s playing video games in the arcades or just someone who enjoys popcorn sci-fi action films, then definitely give “Pixels” a try!
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