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'Pixels' plays on nostalgia of vintage video games, comedic destruction

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JULY 23, 2015

Director Chris Columbus, whose previous directing credits include “Home Alone” and the first two movies of the “Harry Potter” series, has yet again released a film that has a one-of-a-kind thrill with “Pixels.”

In the latest by the seasoned director, Earth is overtaken by a range of classic video game characters, and in order to defeat them, U.S. President Cooper (Kevin James) teams up with old-school video game legends Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler), Ludlow Lamonsoff (Josh Gad) and Eddie Plant (Peter Dinklage).

The trio — once gamer extraordinaires — finds that their video game skills have become useless over time. But now, banded together as the Arcaders, they must put their skills to the test by saving the world from demolition by classic arcade game characters, such as Pac-Man and Donkey Kong.


Columbus’ connection with the characters motivated him to direct “Pixels.”

“I love the idea of three kids who were video game arcade champions in 1982 and who thought they were going to be basically rockstars for the rest of their lives,” Columbus said in an interview with The Daily Californian.

“With all these useless skills in present day, they are sort of lost souls … and they haven’t reached their full potential. And I love the fact that they’re called upon to save the world because they’re the only ones who can fight these games,” Columbus explained. “That’s what drew me to the film — these characters coming to life.”

In “Pixels,” the tone remains upbeat and filled with laughter-inducing comedy, even when it depicts catastrophic events such as the mass destruction of major cities.

“I think the comedy in this movie really comes out of the characters themselves,” Columbus said. “None of the comedy becomes something that the character won’t do themselves.”

The nostalgia of the video game characters makes the film appealing to parents and will surely keep the children in the audience entertained. The intergenerational appeal is clear: Parents can see their favorite characters revived, while their kids are introduced to the beloved vintage games of decades gone by.

“I think it’s a film for parents who played the games to bring their kids to,” Columbus said. “What I have been surprised by for the past few weeks is that I’m hearing about 6-year-olds and 12-year-olds who are really dying to see the film. I didn’t think they’d have this connection to Pac-Man and Donkey Kong or Centipede, but they really seem to love those characters.”

The visuals in the film are absolutely stunning, and the film does an exceptional job of capturing the extreme nature of the video game characters’ destruction. Because the film is screened in IMAX 3D, the viewing experience is incredibly realistic, as if the audience were right next to the Arcaders, saving the world from pixelated madness.

“I love the idea that in the destruction of the cities, school buses, mailboxes, whatever happens, everything becomes pixelated,” Columbus said. “It’s not your normal destruction. You create a visual that no audience has seen before.”

“I think it’s a love letter to all the gamers in the world,” Columbus said.

Indeed, “Pixels” does much to portray video game enthusiasts in a refreshingly positive light. As gamers, Sam, Ludlow and Eddie must prove to themselves and to their team that they’re more than geeky gamers with no skill but rather resourceful, intelligent people who are fighting to make the world a better place.

“Pixels” comes out in theaters Friday.

Contact Maybelle Caro at [email protected].

JULY 23, 2015