NOTE: Do not move this movie to the Average Category, or change the "Bad Qualities" to "Why It Sucks", or the "Good Qualities" to "Redeeming Qualities", as this movie is considered average, despite the negative reception from critics and audiences.
"But, seriously, could Pixels really mean “game over” for his career?"— The Atlantic
Pixels is a 2015 American-Chinese science fiction action comedy film co-produced and directed by Chris Columbus and written by Tim Herlihy and Timothy Dowling, from a story by Herlihy. A feature-length adaptation of French director Patrick Jean's 2010 short film of the same name, the film stars Adam Sandler (who also co-produced the film), Kevin James, Josh Gad, Peter Dinklage, Michelle Monaghan, Brian Cox, Ashley Benson, Sean Bean, and Jane Krakowski. Produced by Columbus's 1492 Pictures and Sandler's Happy Madison Productions, it was released theatrically by Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Releasing in the United States on July 24, 2015 in 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D formats.
Pixels is the final live-action theatrical movie to have Adam Sandler involved in the production to date.
When aliens intercept video feeds of classic arcade games and misinterpret them as a declaration of war, they attack Earth, using the games as models of Galaga, Space Invaders, Centipede, Pac-Man and Donkey Kong. Knowing that he must employ a similar strategy, President Will Cooper (Kevin James) recruits his childhood pal, former video-game champ and home-theater installer Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler), to lead a team of old-school arcade players and a military specialist (Michelle Monaghan) in an all-out battle to save the planet.
Warning: Do not put any points among the lines of "It's an Adam Sandler movie" in this section.
- The biggest problem with the movie is that the film itself is very underwhelming in the first place, mainly because the idea of aliens attacking Earth with video games is such a good premise, but the execution was horrible, and its premise takes elements from the Futurama episode "Anthology of Interest II".
- It is pretty much a generic game crossover movie with far too much fan service, especially when the movie has a lot of appearances from several video game characters. While fan service may be a good thing, it sometimes makes the movie feels a bit rushed.
- The film is rather overloaded with far too many ideas, especially for a game crossover movie.
- Poor attempts at humor, like Q*bert urinating after seeing Donkey Kong.
- Much like many other Happy Madison films, the film has overuse of blatant product placement, particularly YooHoo! drinks in the beginning, as well as UTZ Cheese Balls, the latter of which is fed to Q*bert by Sam.
- False advertising: On the poster, Pac-Man is seen in San Francisco. However, in the movie, he is seen in New York. Not only that, there are absolutely no scenes that take place in San Francisco at all.
- Several characters such as Eddie Plant, Ludlow Lamonsoff, and Sam Brenner are unlikable. In fact, Brenner as a teenager is more likable than him as an adult.
- Weak performances. Particularly, Adam Sandler and Kevin James show little to no expression.
- The script feels like it was written by either a thirteen-year-old or someone who is addicted to video games.
- Inaccuracy: Classic arcade Donkey Kong and Pac-Man didn't have cheat codes, so Eddie logically couldn't have been able to cheat.
- Laughable dialogue, particularly "You smell so nice like the book of Genesis."
- In the ending, Lady Lisa, whom Ludlow fell in love with, gets returned to the mothership, so Q*bert transforms into Lady Lisa, and they get married. This suggests that women are nothing more than prizes to be won, as Eddie Plant's prize for saving the world? Get his wish, a three-way between him, Martha Stewart, and Serena Williams, with Sam's prize being to make out with Violet.
- Q*bert's transformation into Lady Lisa made so little sense, that even Sam Brenner questions it.
- The film is just another generic story where aliens invade the Earth and our heroes have to stop them. You could take out Sam Brenner, his friends, and the video game elements and virtually nothing about the premise would be different.
- Not only is Admiral Porter a weak secondary villain, but he was also unnecessary, as the movie has already been two-thirds in by that point.
- For some reason Brenner, doesn't simply explain the patterns to the S.E.A.L. soldiers.
- There is virtually no chemistry between any of the main characters.
- The film killed off Adam Sandler's career in theatrical films. Since Pixels, all his films, minus the Hotel Transylvania sequels, have been solely released on Netflix.
- It brings up an interesting question; what if aliens misinterpreted a signal we sent them as a declaration of war?
- The scene where Toru Iwatani tries to reunite with Pac-Man is a touching moment
- The soundtrack is good by Henry Jackman, with a nice rendition of We Will Rock You, as well as Game On (the song that plays during the credits).
- To add to that, the credits are decently animated in 8-bit
- The visuals and CGI for the arcade characters are very neat, even by 2015 standards, which makes for pretty good action.
- Besides Q*bert urinating, the Donkey Kong scene, in particular, is amazing.
- Even if the movie completely wastes their talents, Peter Dinklage and Michelle Monaghan give good performances.
- The actual Toru Iwatani (the real creator of Pac-Man; this time not portrayed by Denis Akiyama) makes a cameo in the opening flashback as an arcade repairman.
- The movie can have its moments (eg. Ludlow yelling at US soldiers or Toru Iwatani getting his hand bitten off).
- Even as weak as he was, Admiral Porter's revelation was shocking.
- Unlike Wreck-It Ralph, an animated film with a similar premise about video games, it at least included a cameo of Super Mario, the most renowned video game character of all time.
Pixels received negative reviews from critics with the main criticism aimed at the script, performances, and plot, although some praised its visual effects, action scenes, and musical score. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 17%, with a critic consensus that reads "Much like the worst arcade games from the era that inspired it, Pixels has little replay value and is hardly worth a quarter." while audiences gave it a 46%. It currently holds a 5.5 on IMDb. On Metacritic, the film holds a 27/100 indicating "generally unfavorable reviews" and holds a 1.9 on Letterboxd.
Scores from audiences were more mixed, with a 5.1 Metacritic score and 47% Rotten Tomatoes score.
Pixels became a box office bomb, grossed $244 million worldwide on a production budget of $129 million, Columbia Pictures lost estimated $75 million budget, with being released when Minions and Jurassic World were dominating the box office and ultimately killed Happy Madison Productions' theatrical days and moved to Netflix.