Review: Pixels

Pixels-1

*** out of 4 Stars

Games.  The world loves games.  In fact games have been around before the days before Christ was born. The great Roman Empire used games in order to pass the time of day when they weren’t building structures or conquering lands. Chess was created during the sixth century in India and Checkers was created in 1535 in France.

In fact, popular board games such as Monopoly were created back in 1935, and the board game LIFE (originally titled the Checkered Game of Life) was created in 1860 by Milton Bradley. It was a very popular game where people would travel to “parlors” to meet friends and play the game.  All of these games were well embraced because they brought people together to enjoy each other’s company.

In 1871, British inventor Montague Redgrave was granted a US patent for his improvements in a game known as bagatelle, a game that used a table and balls.  In the early 1930s pinball machine started to appear in mass as countertop machines (without legs). Pinball machines (with legs) ruled the coin operated market from WWI till the 1970’s.  They even wrote a song about it, remember Pinball Wizard by the Who?

In the 1980s, a new type of game emerged which were called video games, a phenomenon that swept across the World.  It included such titles such as Pac-Man, Galaga, Donkey Kong, Asteroids, Defender, Frogger, Asteroids, Centipede and of course Tron (they made two movies about Tron).  What all of these games, since the beginning of time, had in common is that they brought people together.  Leagues were formed, contests were created and bonds were solidified.  And I’ll have you know I think I played every board, pinball and video game ever created. I could not wait to go out during the day or night to a parlor to meet friends and play video games. It was my dream to be very rich so I could play the games forever but eventually I would run out of money and that’s when it was time to return home.

Of course, today’s video games (Xbox, Play Station, etc.) are designed to play in the comfort of your own home either alone or with friends but doesn’t bring the masses together like the games of old.  In my opinion this is what these new games are lacking which is why I don’t own any of them and have never played them. It’s like the game of solitaire. I look at it as a way of just wasting time waiting for something else to happen.

Understanding this long tradition of games it makes perfect sense to have a movie which pays tribute (?) to this industry.  The movie starts out in the 1980s with young kids flocking to videogame parlors to partake in their favorite games which leads up to a national competition for the best player.  The participants and list of games would all be included into a time capsule and sent out to space for some alien race to hopefully enjoy and learn how much fun it is to live on Earth playing games.  And if that’s not an accurate description who cares.

The fun part is when we advance 40 years later to today and find out that what we did back in the 1980’s created some unexpected problems with our alien friends who misinterpreted the fun of playing games as a declaration of war.  So these nice wonderful aliens decide to attack the Earth in the form of video games, which becomes the premise of the movie Pixels.  It’s one video game battle after another.

I like this movie. While I’m not a big fan of Adam Sandler’s vulgar films (That’s My Boy, Jack and Jill, etc.) I do like the films where he is more honest in his characters (Blended, Happy Gilmore, etc.).  Not all of his films are comedies and not all of his films are box office successes.  Many people will like this film and many won’t. The people who find an attachment to those videogames which they played in the 1980s will like this film whereas the people who have no clue what these games are about, sit at home and play with their Xbox and PlayStation’s, may not find any cohesion to the fun of what this movie is about.  Which basically means that the older generation may enjoy this film more than the younger generation (unless of course they’re a big Adam Sandler fan) hoping for a more vulgar type of film.

Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Peter Dinklage and Josh Gad all turn in good performances.  The movie doesn’t have any long drawn out unnecessary parts and the flow is pretty steady. Pixels runs 1 hour and 45 minutes.  So go out, get your popcorn and drink, sit down put on your 3-D glasses and have some fun with this film.  If you’re a home video gamer, get up off your couch, go find a video arcade, and play these games to see what you’ve been missing.

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