Film Review: 'Pixels'
After an alien attack on the Guam military base, Brenner and Chewy, joined by childhood sidekick Ludlow (Josh Gad), face-off against the likes of Centipede and Donkey Kong in a series of different game interfaces. But the recurrent sight of over-aged nerds in matching outfits armed with light cannons - even against an adorable Pacman munching up the New York City grid - merely proves a case in diminishing returns. Not even the blown-up, blocky graphics of 8-bit avatars through 3D glasses can rescue the film's somnolent direction and practically non-existent plot. In a universe where Pacman ghosts are reduced to Mini Coopers, the action offers no real visceral sense of jeopardy. And as if the crew wasn't sufficiently rewarded, a silent, scantily-clad, fantasy heroine (Ashley Benson) is literally referred to as a "trophy" by Ludlow, while Serena Williams is outrageously pimped out to Eddie.
Just in case you missed Van Patton's own sole function as an object of lust, Chewy points out to the literally speechless First Lady (Jane Krakowski): "She's a 10." Never mind the fact that she's a top-ranking military official. Earlier, a cheating husband swiftly reduces her to a tipsy mess on the floor, sobbing her heart out to Brenner. Despite isolated moments of silly charm - Brenner goads uberjock Navy Seals: "Are you guys soldiers or the cast of Magic Mike?" - Pixels ultimately falls short. Not quite sophisticated enough for parents - who will get the thick-and-fast pop references, but have grown up a bit since then - or their X Box-savvy kids, who will probably be less than impressed by its dated aesthetics, if not blatantly backwards gender politics. On this evidence, maybe the eighties weren't so great after all.
Christine Jun | @ChristineCocoJ