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Film review: Pixels brings back '80s video games ... for what?

A brilliant idea has been turned into another witless, charmless Adam Sandler vehicle. More's the pity.

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 August, 2015, 11:06pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 August, 2015, 11:06pm

The concept for Pixels is brilliant. After extraterrestrial beings intercept a time capsule full of 1980s video games, earth is subjected to an alien invasion with the enemy shape-shifting into characters from Pac- Man and other arcade classics.

What a pity, then, that someone told Adam Sandler, who pairs with Kevin James to turn Pixels into yet another charmless, witless Sandler vehicle.

Playing his usual man-child, Sandler is Sam Brenner — a TV installer who, as a child, was a video game junkie. James plays Will Cooper, who has risen from suburban mediocrity to become, ridiculously, president of the United States. Together with their conspiracy-believing friend, they must save the planet when the digital baddies start to obliterate mankind. There's limited fun to be had from seeing a giant Pac-Man chomping its way around New York. But Game of Thrones' Peter Dinklage, as a childhood rival brought on board to help out, manages to raise a smile with his mullet and overwhelming desire to hook up with Serena Williams and Martha Stewart.

With the likes of Brian Cox and Sean Bean picking up pay cheques for doing almost nothing, director Chris Columbus never manages to distract us from the deliberately crude graphics (echoing the blocky look of old video games).

Like 2012's Wreck-It Ralph, which similarly mined retro games, Pixels feels like a wasted opportunity. Kids today won't care, while big kids will just despair.

Pixels opens on August 20