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October 20, 2017

VGFlicks: Pixels (Part 5)

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5

Ludlow, Eddie and Lady Lisa are down on Earth fending off the hundreds of video game characters attacking Washington, while Sam, Violet, Will and Q*Bert are in the spaceship in the final challenge set by the aliens. It’s of course none other than Donkey Kong. 25M, to be precise; the first level.

Total Dama Island did it first.

By the way, Q*Bert belongs to Columbia Pictures, who
are a part of Sony, who made this film. They agreed to
this scene where Q*Bert leaks on the floor.
Fuck you, movie.
Donkey Kong tosses the blue barrel and flames erupt behind the team, and Q*Bert pisses on the floor in fear. Great start for Part 5, huh? Humiliation of a beloved video game character, right off the bat! DK starts sending more barrels down at the Arcaders, and they jump from a floor to the next, helping each other in climbing up. Q*Bert gets flattened by a barrel, but he’s fine. Sam picks up a hammer and starts smashing, but the barrels have become too frequent and too fast for him. He says he can’t win, he couldn’t even beat Eddie back in ’82! That’s when Matty reveals that Eddie cheated back then, so Sam really IS the great Donkey Kong champion – he went as far as Eddie without cheating, so he was the better player! (That is, of course, if you want to buy in this movie’s plot point that games like Donkey Kong or Pac-Man have cheat codes, which is bullshit in real life.)

Sandler gets going! That can't end well.
Thus, Sam gets a second wind, and the orchestral remix of We Will Rock You starts playing. You know, I raged about this movie a lot, but as I said before, THIS is a good song. Everything else may suck to various levels, but this track is a shining beam of light - although my enjoyment is dimmed, we just had Q*Bert pissing on the floor. You can't come back from this so easily.

I would like to remind you that Violet has never showed such
amazing physical prowess anywhere earlier in the film, so
this comes out of nowhere.
Sam gets better than before, and eventually he reaches the hostages along with Violet and Will. In the normal game, that should be all; but no, apparently DK has to be fought like a platforming boss now. Oh, and Q*Bert has to be rescued, so Violet pulls off some freaking impressive acrobatic moves to get to him and bring him to the top with the others. She always had those crazy moves? Then why was there a subplot about her husband not thinking of her as limber enough, thus running off with someone younger? Urgh, this movie has no logic, I should stop looking for logic.

It admittedly looks cool, but the three heroes in this scene are
a cheating jackass, an annoying conspiracy theorist, and a
silent woman who only exists to be eye candy.
So... not really cool.
During that time, Ludlow and Eddie have been shooting at every enemy they were running into, but as a result the other video game characters all converge towards them. They’re being cornered by a literal army, with nothing but their light ray guns and Lady Lisa’s blades to fight back! (Once again: Lady Lisa is a video game character who took on a perfectly human form, then instantly fell for Ludlow after a weird declaration of love and she is now killing her own kind to help him. These facts still pain me deeply.)

You can kill DK? Without making him fall to his death?
What, do you think this is a normal platformer?

"I know you've done almost nothing in this climax, mister
President, but here, let me hug you and get in another dig at
Barack Obama."
Violet is trapped as she tries to come back to the group, so Sam goes down with a hammer to rescue her, then faces Donkey Kong and both toss their weapon. The hammer goes through the barrel and crashes into DK, defeating him. Score 3-2 for mankind! This instantly stops the army on Earth, and they all self-destruct one by one, returning to the ship. The rescued African-American soldier thanks Will Cooper, but apparently the writers think thats ince the soldier isn't a white guy, then he has to say that Barack Obama is still his favorite. This victory isn’t without losses for the heroes, as Ludlow’s beloved Lady Lisa also self-destructs.

I would say that it's sad, but we never really had a chance to
learn anything about Lady Lisa since she was a flat character
made just so Josh Gad's character could have a romantic interest.

*waves middle fingers up and down angrily at this
goddamn scene and the extreme sexism of it*
The heroes are beamed back down on Earth, on the White House lawn, sometime after mankind’s victory. The following scene implies that Will signed a peace treaty with the aliens in their ship. Man! I wanted to see that! It would have been great to see the aliens behind the games! Sadly, again, this isn’t high-concept science-fiction, so screw any interesting part about the aliens. They just wanted to provide cool scenes of Sandler kicking the ass of various video game characters. Eddie admits that Sam is the better player at every game, including Donkey Kong. But hey, it’s all good for Eddie, for his help in saving the world he does get his threesome… with Serena Williams and Martha Stewart… who’s got a plate of Paninis… in the Lincoln bedroom.

No! Don't! You are kissing ADAM SANDLER!
Your career will be ruined!
Okay, I can cross “seeing Martha Stewart in a video game movie” off the list of thing that I thought would be impossible in the universe. It is utterly disgusting, though, how Eddie gets his reward, and it’s two women. Nearly just as disgusting is how Sam Brenner “wins the girl”, somewhat, as he finally gets into a relationship with Violet van Patten. Because that’s supposed to be a reward, right? Women are rewards in this movie. But you haven’t heard the worst. Well, okay, if you heard anything about this film, you have probably heard the worst, but here goes. After all that came before, the crowning achievement of awful.

Ludlow is sad because he lost his voiceless girlfriend from an alien world and cannot celebrate like the others. That’s when Q*Bert, fan-preferred character in the film, suddenly has spasms. He unforms, his voxels shift and take shape and change color. Is he evolving like a Pokémon? No! He turns into... Lady Lisa.



This movie can suck on a Hepatitis-flavored ice pick. This movie can go die in a fire and be reborn imperfectly by a Level 1 necromancer. This movie can get stuck in World -1 for eternity. This movie can be uploaded in an old arcade machine close to irremediable computer death. This movie could be neuralyzed out of the consciousness of all mankind and it would be for the greater good.

So yeah, Ludlow gets his love back, the voiceless pretty woman who has no personality and instantly fell in love with him. And it used to be Q*Bert, who was the best thing in the film up to that point. Fuck this. I could say I don’t want to continue, but it’s almost over. Even Sandler points it out: “No one else is weirded out by this? That was just Q*Bert!”

President Will Cooper, whose ratings are now through the roof, and he holds a press conference in which he announces his peace treaty with the aliens and congratulates the Arcaders for winning the war. We get a shot of Professor Iwatani’s hand being restored, so we can assume that they are repairing some of the damage they’ve caused, although we aren’t told if they ever brought back to life anyone who was turned into cubes by their attacks on the world… Nor are we ever told if those people literally erased from existence by Tetris came back somehow. 

Cut to one year later, in the Lamonsoff household, in which we see pictures of Ludlow and Lisa after their marriage – that was Q*Bert! – and a happy Josh Gad announcing, “Hey kids! Daddy’s home!” Cut to a crib containing FIVE Q*Berts jumping in joy, yelling “Daddy! Daddy!”




Not feeling very articulate in response to your sheer awfulness, but this says everything: FUCK YOU MOVIE!


(For the record, the ending credits re-tell the events of the story with 8-bit graphics, and it's actually better than the goddamn movie.)

Yep, the movie would have been better as an 8-bit short.
Which... they include in the film! Should I have reviewed
that instead?
The blame lies on Adam Sandler, yes, but also on the screenwriters, Tim Herlihy and Timothy Dowling. The three of them allowed Sandler's brand of humor to taint this story and make it so asinine and tasteless. And while I have more class than to freely insult writers when they create such poor stories, I can at least tell them that they needed to rewrite this script a bunch of times before turning it into this 100-minute visual misery.

Are there good things I can tell about the film? Yes. Fairness forces me to be honest and say that it’s not 100% crap. It’s got decent special effects, it’s fun to see our childhood arcade and gaming icons on film, and there are great tracks accompanying the better scenes – especially the orchestral We Will Rock You. Peter Dinklage is fun here, even if he plays a dickhead, he doesn’t take the film seriously and just hams it up freely. Kevin James is actually decent as President Will Cooper, for most of the film anyway. He approaches the situation seriously, first with skepticism before the aliens are properly revealed, later by helping as much as he can against the threat. The premise in general is fun and could have made for a good, or at least decent, movie. Emphasis on “could”; now here's why the film is shit.

I still personally love that shot, even if Pac-Man just looks nonplussed.

First off, outside of Plant and Cooper, there are few likable characters in the main cast. Sam Brenner is supposed to be the dogged nice guy who hasn’t really changed since his teenage years because of his greatest failure in 1982, and we should root for him. However, he has a despicable sense of humor, when he starts winning he’s prone to belittling others as much as they used to belittle him earlier, and he never really improves as a character. And despite this, he ends up with Violet van Patten, who’s established to be way too good for him and gets pigeonholed into being his romantic interest and reciprocating said interest as the story goes, even though she clearly hated his guts.

Josh Gad is a great guy, but his character here is a stain on his record. Ludlow Lamonsoff screams too much, is an annoying conspiracy theorist, and ends up basically boning Q*Bert. Most jokes seem to be about making him an even more awkward person to have around. He and Sam feel like huge stereotypes of gamers: smart but socially awkward, sometimes creepy, losers well into adulthood. Pleasant.  Then there’s Q*Bert, best character in the film, and we all know what happens to him!

The enormous amount of errors and inconsistencies is another major issue. The writers couldn’t be bothered to verify whether anything the aliens used predated 1982. It’s like they went, “Eighties, they got the core concept, let’s pick from that entire decade, even if it happened past the year we’ve set”. Hell, if they were gonna struggle so badly with the year, here is an idea: Set the intro in 1985! Oh, right. That would be the arrival of home consoles, and it would defeat the point of the aliens using only arcade monsters. Which is a rule they don’t even follow later on! Would it have hurt to verify whether Max Headroom debuted in 1982 or later?

That’s not even getting into the gigantic plot holes, especially those involving cheat codes. The more I look at the Pac-Man scene, the more inconsistencies and plot holes I see. I have to stop at some point or I’d spend a full part talking about the scene. And of course, the big twist is that Eddie cheated both while playing Donkey Kong in 1982 and against Pac-Man… which would be fine if these games had cheats. One could make the argument that the writers invented cheats to make their story work, and I would agree if they did so to make the story interesting. However, the film’s target audience – retro gamers – knows these games inside and out and knows that the film made up these plot elements, which is distracting and annoying.

The comedy isn’t even that great. I’m under the impression that Sandler ad-libbed many of his lines, and in many cases it makes him sound like an asshole, which gives us less reasons to root for Sam Brenner. Sure, there are some funny moments in there – the Centipede following the training on TV still gives me a giggle – but those moments are few and far between.

That’s not getting into the cringe-inducing sexism. In this film, women are rewards. Sam earns Violet, Eddie earns his threesome, Ludlow earns Lady Lisa – in a way that still sickens me. The only main male character who doesn’t earn a woman is Will Cooper, and that’s because he instead earned a great approval rating with how he dealt with the alien situation. Look, I know that “winning the girl” was a popular trope of retro games and that may be why they used it. It doesn’t make it right in a movie, let alone a movie that was released in 2015. It’s wrong on so many levels. And of course, it mostly happened at the end of the film, like the cherry on top of this deplorable cake.

I'm really sorry for these child actors.
This movie is horrible. Now, if you watch it with someone who appreciates lowbrow humor and doesn’t have a lot of video game knowledge, they might enjoy it. You’re reading this blog, so you probably won’t. This is too bad, because I was hoping for this to be good back in 2015. I was sorely disappointed. I’d give it, at best, a 2.5 out of 10. It’s not the absolute worst piece of shit out there, but it’s still bound to be in quite a few Worst 10 lists when it comes to bad video game films. I still think it’s better than Gamer, but that’s faint praise as Gamer is still, in my opinion, the worst video game film that exists. Nonetheless, I will be selling back on eBay my copy of Pixels, because I see no point in keeping it.

Ah! Finally done with this one. Tune in next Friday for something better. Yeah, I need something better too. Halloween’s coming, maybe I should review something that relates to the topic of horror. I could either go for something long or something short. Either way, see you then.


October 16, 2017

VGFlicks: Pixels (Part 4)

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5

Look at those pixel puppy-dog eyes!

How to go from 0 to 100 in public opinion?
Simple. Handle well an alien invasion crisis.
Whaddya mean, those don't happen in the real world?
Following Sam’s victory against Pac-Man, he’s welcomed as a hero by the New Yorkers. Eddie has been rescued from the river, and Ludlow shows up with a wriggling mass hiding under a blanket. He reveals that it’s Q*Bert, their new trophy earned for defeating the aliens this round. Y’know… I never liked Q*Bert’s design, but I’ll admit he’s kinda cute in 3D like this. There’s some kind of dorky charm to him. Now to hope he doesn’t become the butt of terrible jokes. But since this is an Adam Sandler movie, this is inevitable. President Kevin James – I mean, Will Cooper – then has a press conference to congratulate his Arcaders, and the reporters start coddling up to him since, y’know, he’s gone from being the butt of all the jokes to a mostly respected leader through this crisis. He made the right decisions. Well, aside from that time Arkanoid destroyed the Taj Mahal, but let’s sweep that under the carpet, hmmm?

President Cooper will be holding a soirée in the Arcaders' honor that night, reassuring the reporters that were an alien attack to happen, his team would be ready to jump into action. The old Admiral played by Brian Cox of course hates that he has been bested by geeks, because of course, this is a Sandler movie and they needed to fill an asshole quota. There’s potential here, either for a surprise villain, or a surprise ally who begrudgingly joins the fight in the end – but no, they do nothing else with Brian Cox, he’s nowhere to be seen in the climax.

Sandler's been crapping on all video games, old and new, in
differet ways so far, might as well take some time to make a
blatant product placement of a good modern video game.

Time to insult modern gaming some more. At Violet’s weapons lab, while she's experimenting with new light ray guns, Sam Brenner watches Violet’s son Matty playing… er… I think it’s The Last of Us.  Yeah, quick online search says it is. Sam complains that modern games don’t have patterns to take advantage of, no rhyme or reason to the AI… which isn’t true, any platform game enthusiast will tell you that patterns are a thing, and there are bosses and enemies in various genres, on most consoles and even on PC, who will follow patterns that you must learn in order to win. I guess it all boils down to nostalgia, and Brenner would bash modern games either way since he prefers the old classics. Matty explains that in a lot of newer games, the whole point is simply to “pretend you’re the guy, and you don’t want to die”. Sam comments on the violence in The Last of Us, which is honestly not the worst I’ve seen (and there are much nastier games out there, like GTA ort Postal). As for Q*Bert, he's watching the game and he's horrified.

Poor guy. His species kills opponents by turning them into
cubes. It's literally the first time he hears about blood.
Y’know… an aside on the aliens. They speak to the characters through old recordings of 1980’s television, and attack using video game characters. We know they’re made of energy cubes, but that’s all we really know. We learn some more about their species later in the movie, but in the end, we get very little else. It’s a missed opportunity in my opinion. Then again, they were more interested in an action-oriented story where Sandler battles video games than in a high-concept science-fiction tale about the society and life of an energy-based alien species.

Speaking of Q*Bert, he might be the best character in the movie. He seems to quite enjoy living on Earth, learning about humans and trying our food. It also helps that he’s indestructible, so if he crashes on the ground after missing a jump on a trampoline, he just reforms as if nothing happened. He’s so cute, too! Listen to this childlike glee! Only downside, Q*Bert says “bullcrap”, because nothing is sacred. Okay, which one of you morons in the film taught the child-friendly icon to swear? I want names! I want a culprit!

Truth be told, Q*Bert is the R2-D2 of arcade gaming. All we
ever heard are beeps and gibberish, but he might as well be
swearing like a sailor and we never find out. This one,
however, seems too childish to cuss so much.

He got Serena? For real?
Her island is better be worth it.
Sam invites Violet to the soirée, and surprisingly, she accepts. I suppose that’s the way they found to get their relationship to go anywhere, they need an excuse to hook up by the end of this story after all. Skip to the soirée, and it looks quite fine, with all the main characters in their best outfits. Eddie Plant got Serena Williams as his partner for the evening, and yes, she must be either brave or very well-paid to make a cameo here. Violet shows up with her son Matty, and Q*Bert came along – aww, lookit that, they made a custom tux for Q*Bert! It’s adorable. So, Sam and Violet go to the balcony to chat and get to know each other better, while Ludlow Lamonsoff is on the stage, singing a jazzy version of Tears For FearsEverybody Wants to Rule the World. (Of course he’d like this song, such a title appeals to a conspiracy theorist.) A rather awesome moment for Ludlow, too, as Josh Gad gets a chance to use his great singing voice. It almost makes up for the character being what I hate most about the film so far.

Then of course, partway into the song, in front of the entire audience invited to the soirée, Ludlow gets on all fours and starts humping the stage. Way to go. This movie is basically “How to Ruin a Good Moment”. There are many scenes where something decent or sincere is going on, then it’s ruined by an awful joke. Fuck this movie in every orifice with a rusty blade dipped in Dijon mustard.

"Welcome to your life / There's no turning back / Even while
we sleep / We will find you acting on your best behavior"
And "best behavior", for Ludlow, apparently encompasses
"humping stages during parties".

I wish modern Sandler films had more heartfelt moments
like this one.
Meanwhile, Sam and Violet are having a conversation and Sam compliments her all while insulting the Pilates teacher her husband ran away with. Violet asks why he’s stuck installing hardware if he’s smart enough to invent new technology. Sam replies that his defeat at the hands of Eddie Plant back in the 1982 gaming championship has left him with a psychological scar. He feels like whenever he’s getting too good at something, he fudges it up eventually when he remembers his defeat at Donkey Kong, and that’s why he’s been unable to get anywhere despite his talent. See, that’s an interesting character trait. And for once, a scene not ruined by a cheap joke! I don’t know who let that slide, but they’re the true heroes here.

"We are using footage that we shouldn't even have access
to in order to call you! That's even more unbelievable than
our attacks with video game characters made of cubes!"
When they come back inside, they are shown a video message by a New York class of kids. They were about to say a very, very nasty word – one I actually used earlier – when the transmission is cut off, with a new message from the aliens. They’re using footage from Daryl Hall and John Oates, in an MTV recording that took place in… 1986. Guys, are you even trying to follow your own set rule that everything the aliens use from our probe to launch their attacks came from before 1982? Christ, it shouldn’t be so complicated. Hall and Oates announce that Earth has violated the rules they had set in place for this intergalactic match, and as a result the aliens consider this as Earth forfeiting – AKA they win. They announce that a proper invasion will begin in 12 hours.

I wanna scream "Bullshit!" at the top of my lungs so hard right no-
Hey, is that the Konami code written on there?
Well zippity doo dah, they got ONE code right in here.
Eddie knows that he’s in trouble so he makes a run for it, but he’s accosted by Matty who has retrieved his pair of cool 80’s shades. Eddie had inscribed cheat codes on the lenses, indicating that he was cheating – and yes, that includes the so-called Pac-Man super-speed cheat code WHICH DOESN’T EXIST but this movie needed a justification for a third act in which the aliens invade Earth. He also won through cheating in 1982, as he freely admits to Matty. Oh, guess which other game had no cheat codes? Donkey Kong! Do the bloody research, filmmakers. It’s not that goddamn hard.

After Eddie leaves, the Admiral played by Brian Cox walks up to Violet and Sam and fires them for “helping the aliens” (I’m paraphrasing). Then as the lights go out, they run outside and see Matty getting taken away by the aliens. That special effect turning the characters into cubes as they’re brought into the spaceship is still pretty damn cool, I admit that.

Q*Bert is the most human of all the aliens. He is closer to the
heroes, has learned more about humanity, and is genuinely
saddened by what's going on.
Then again, with what happens later, I may regret calling
him the "most human" of the aliens.
Back at Violet’s house, she tries to come up with a plan with Sam, Ludlow and Q*Bert, but they’ve been stripped of their gear and contacts. They’re pretty much doomed. We also get some info from Q*Bert, who explains that his species lived in peace on their planet until the tape from 1982 came to them, and they accidentally interpreted it as a declaration of war – and since then it’s been a dark place with no room for joy or peace. Sheesh, talk about a fickle species. And they don’t seem inclined to listen to the humans saying that the footage of games was, well, just that: Fun games. I wished we could hear more about Q*Bert’s kind, but as I said earlier, this isn’t serious science-fiction.

We had the MST3K Mantra, Moff's Law and Bellisario's Maxim.
I shall add the Sanchez Statement, courtesy of Rick: "Don't think about it.
Don't think about it. DON'T THINK ABOUT IT."

Sure enough, 12 hours later, the aliens are unopposed and begin their attack, unleashing various video game characters into Washington. Among them, we can spot Paperboy (1985) and Tetrominoes (from Tetris; 1984). The Tetris pieces form lines around apartment block floors, literally erasing them from existence. What the fuck happens to people who hadn’t had time to escape? I could imagine being erased entirely from existence to be a particularly brutal but novel way to die. Jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesus Christ, though. I hope these aliens will bring back the people they killed once they’re defeated. Might never get confirmation about that, but hey, a guy can hope.

Of all the things to be Checkov's guns, the Crane Game.
I thought I already knew everything there was to know
about the Crane Game!
Sam, Violet, Ludlow and Q*Bert make their way into the chaos and are about to be attacked by Frogger, but it’s caught in the nick of time by Will using a crane. Well, he did say he was an expert at the crane game. And here he is now, joining the Arcaders in their fight against the invasion! Aw yeah, a President who jumps into action! He has even brought portable light ray guns for the whole team! They gear up and prepare for the fight of their lives. Ludlow runs off to fight some other aliens, while Sam, Violet, Will and Q*Bert try to sneak aboard the mothership.

"Gear up, everyone. I know you're better at 8-bit arcade games, but get ready
for a free-movement, open-world, Real-Life-HD multiplayer team shooter."

Lady Lisa, protagonist of Dojo Quest.
Portrayed by Ashley Benson, voiced by nobody.
Brief glimpse of Mario, the one from the original Donkey Kong (1981). Ludlow comes across a school bus being attacked by pixelated purple ninjas and destroys them all, but then the movie decides to throw in a new curveball. With “Fuck you” written all over it. From behind the bus appears a humanoid form clad in a red dress, with blonde flowing hair and two katanas attached to her back. Ludlow, ever the creep, instantly recognizes her as the object of all his deepest desires: Lady Lisa, protagonist of Dojo Quest, the one he’s been fantasizing about since he was 8.

Oh, and she takes on a perfect human form. Not pixelated, not 3D, no. She forms a perfectly normal human body. When exactly did the aliens show that they were able to do that? Okay, I call bullshit. Model Ashley Benson portrays the seductive assassin, and she never says a single word in the entire movie. Some other pixelated characters let out a peep or two, she never says a thing. Just a pretty lady without a voice. But hey, "who cares about a voice when she’s got a body this hot", amirite? Urgh, screw this scene. He may be in love, but she has knives in her eyes. And two goddamn katanas. After a short fight where she shows off impressive agility and talent, she bests him and slices his head off, freeing Earth from the insanity of Ludlow Lamonsoff. Nah, I kid. But I wish that’s what happened! What truly happens is that he submits to her completely and, as he feels the steel of a blade to his neck, states an anguished declaration of love for Lady Lisa. This is enough to make her drop her katanas. She smiles, helps him get up, and they share a victorious kiss. Uh, he knows she’s an alien made of energy cubes, right? Apparently he’s fine with that.

Aw, Hell NO!


Oh hey, good to know Eddie has some honor.
He must be part-Lannister.
Then Eddie Plant shows up in his Arcader uniform and admits that he done fucked up, so he’s willing to resume the fight against the aliens, to prove to himself that he can win without cheating. And, of course, Lady Lisa joins their side against her own kind. But of course! She had about 30 seconds with Ludlow, fell in love, and she’ll help in exterminating her own kind now? Dude, that’s not until at least the 6th date.

I think some people who were there in the '80s will like the
nostalgia, cameos and references to the era in the film.
But they'll still hate it for everything else that's in it.
This Max Headroom looks awesome, by the way.
Sam and his team get underneath the mothership, and a giant Max Headroom pops up over them to discuss the terms that will end this war. URGH! For fuck’s sake! Max Headroom first appeared on TV in 1984! The CGI host announces that the aliens are willing to give Earth a final chance. Why? Because we need a climax. that's the only reason. They’re invited into the mothership, and if they can defeat the final boss, Earth wins. A portal opens and Sam enters, followed by Violet, Will and Q*Bert, and they’re turned into cubes and brought upwards.

Kinda odd that the big boss used by the aliens is an enemy
that is technically never hurt directly by the protagonist
of the game he's in. But I suppose making him fall to
his death is not an option.
They reform on a red platform, inside the ship. They walk past a blue barrel. This is the climax everybody could see coming – which game could it be, other than the one game Sam has no confidence in beating? A giant monkey sets itself near a barrel on a platform way higher, while ladders fall between the multiple levels of the stage. Sam instantly recognizes the level as Donkey Kong.

Then Will adds, “The one game you suck at.” Gee, thanks for the kind words, dick! For the record, Sam arrived second. SECOND. He doesn’t suck at the game, he didn’t get to first place, but second place is still better than every other player minus one! The three trophies taken by the aliens are here too – the Guam soldier, the Indian guy, and Matty. Time for a showdown.

God’s sake, I can’t wait for this review to be over.

October 13, 2017

VGFlicks: Pixels (Part 3)

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5

Still no video games in this picture. We're almost halfway through, and
the one reason why we went to see the film - the video games attacking
the world - is still barely a part of the plot Oh, but it's coming.

The one time President Cooper tries to spend some quality
time making a cake with his wife, he's interrupted by an
important message and his frosting-smeared face goes on
national TV. Does the poor guy ever catch a break?
"...It's a smear campaign!"
Earth is losing 0 to 2, and our hope lies in Adam Sandler. Is it too late to root for the aliens? Sandler’s character, Sam Brenner, is trying to teach American soldiers to fight against these video game-themed aliens, using the arcade machines, but none of them seems ready. And the date of the next battle is approaching… We get a quick scene of President Kevin James – I mean Will Cooper making a cake with his wife, getting frosting smeared across his face, with the event caught on video by the media (and replayed to embarrass him further). That’s when someone shows up to tell him about the aliens’ newest message and the location of the next fight. Smack-dab in the middle of Hyde Park in London, because these aliens don’t care about civilians getting hurt.

The American military arrives at Hyde Park with Sam and Ludlow as… er… alien warfare tactical consultants? Nah, that’s too dignified a title. Let’s just say they’re the nerds-in-chief who’ll watch on the sidelines and, sometimes, tell the soldiers what to do. Meanwhile, Will is in a meeting with the Prime Minister of England, watching the events unfold.

Either those are impressive pixelated mushrooms, or we're on mushrooms
right now.

The hour comes. Soon the skies open, and a multitude of colorful blocky mushrooms fall and set themselves in place in the air. The “expert” Brenner immediately recognizes a set-up for Centipede. Wait, would a 3D Centipede really work?

October 9, 2017

VGFlicks: Pixels (Part 2)

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5

Part 1 revealed that Kevin James is President of the U.S., Sandler installs electronics, and aliens are coming. Howdy.

Oh, this military base will not last long.
The aliens arenn't exactly fighting on equal grounds.

I think we can all relate to Sam's situation of hating his job,
but maybe he should emote it a little more.
Sam Brenner, Sandler’s character (gotta remember that it’s a character and not just Sandler himself in some sort of power fantasy), arrives at a normal household and proceeds to install electronics. New HD TV, new PS4... The kid living there is lucky... or not; his parents are divorcing. I'm sparing you the details on the breakup, you don't need to hear that. We meet the mother, Violet van Patten (played by Michelle Monaghan), and Sam is smitten by her. Obvious Sandler cliché is obvious, he falls for a woman way too good for him, adventuring happens, she warms up and ends up falling for him too, and then they live happily ever after.

Michelle Monaghan starts off in this movie as a seemingly-
typical housewife in emotional turmoil. Don't believe that
bullshit, she's more badass than the four main guys.
Hey, weren't there supposed to be video games?
As he puts in place the new TV, Sam talks with the kid, Matty, about video games. The classics. In an obvious generational clash, the kid thinks that Call of Duty and Halo are classics, Sam says that the real classics are arcade games. After he’s done installing the TV, he looks for Violet but finds her drinking alcohol in the closet, clearly not taking her recent breakup well. And who can blame her, really. Overstepping his bounds as a mere electronics installer, Sam goes into the closet with her and offers a shoulder to cry on. She ends up explaining her life to him… y’know, as you do to strangers who have come into your house to do their job. Sam admits that he has an ex of his own, a wife who cheated on him with a doctor. And so Violet and Sam end up sharing drinks, and then Sam makes a move, which is instantly pushed back by Violet. Ah! Finally some realism there. Sam, you can’t move in to kiss a woman you just met! You utter idiot!

October 6, 2017

VGFlicks: Pixels (Part 1)

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5

I hope you guys like the sacrifices I make for you.

Ten dollars, an hour’s worth of pay, went into buying the DVD for this movie. You see, while I am actually quite proud of the original review I wrote for this film back in 2015, I felt it just was not enough to convey everything that’s wrong with it. And, sadly, I need the movie to add pictures to the review.

Imagine a gamer seeing those five posters, in giant form, at his local theater,
and getting hyped about the film. That was me. These looked awesome.
What a damn shame.
Pixels, a project helmed by Adam Sandler and directed by Chris Columbus (known for writing Gremlins and directing Mrs. Doubtfire and the first three Harry Potter films), could have been done right. Unfortunately, anything that stars Adam Sandler will attract ire these days. This one is a 100-minute film adaptation of a 3-minute short about arcade classics coming to life, invading the world, and destroying it bit by bit. I already stated that I don’t like the original short, mostly because of how it just shows destruction and cool effects, without any heroes to go against the threat. Just a reason to turn the planet into a giant cube devoid of life to show off special effects. You’d think adapting that for a feature-length movie would improve it. But, again: Adam Sandler.

Now, to be fair to Sandler, he didn’t write the thing. He produced it, along with Chris Columbus, Mark Radcliffe and Allen Covert. The screenwriters were actually Tim Herlihy and Timothy Dowling. These guys clearly needed to rewrite more than a few scenes. And of course, since Sandler is the main character and the movie revolves around his usual schtick, backlash was bound to happen. This concept could have been done right. It wasn’t. Happy Madison couldn't have done this right.

Jump with me into one of the most reviled video game movies of all time. A film so bad, some online critics have become infamous for their reviews of it. Many gamers can’t even bring this one up without internally screeching. I’ll try to keep my composure as I revisit this film, discussing every plot point, and pointing out everything wrong with it. Emphasis on "try".