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Review: Pixels

pixels_movie_poster_wallpaper_hd Like I had mentioned in my earlier review about Arnold Schwarzenegger being a star, the same goes for once upon a time ago A Lister Adam Sandler, but unlike other failing stars (well comparatively) Adam Sandler is at most blame here as he mainly produces and co-writes almost every film he does! Films such as Jack & Jill, That’s My Boy and Grown Ups have no reason to exist other than to prove a point how this once awesome comedian has gone down, well except for Blended which I feel was unfairly rejected! Now talking about this film, which is based on a brilliant conceptual short film by Patrick Jean, seems like the perfect film for redemption as we get to see Adam Sandler the actor after a long time!

If you are an eighties or a nineties kid you have definitely grown up playing Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, Centipede and other arcade games, until consoles such as Play Station came into picture. Seriously what would you do, if beloved characters from your favorites games come to life & are out to kill you! I know scary but wouldn’t that be awesome too? Luckily for us director Chris Columbus has turned this idea into a really light hearted CGI filled humorous film. Sure the jokes are not “laugh your heart out funny,” it does miss its mark quite often, but but not enough for the film to not be good.

The story follows best buds Sam Brenner and Will Cooper, while Sam proves to be a prodigy of the joystick and ball roller. Will, not so much, though he does seem to be quite adept at “The Claw,” a skill that will come in handy a few years down the road. Sam’s talents take them to a video game competition where they pick up a new bud, conspiracy-theorist-in-the-making Ludlow Lamonsoff, as well as a new nemesis, Eddie ‘The Fire Blaster’ Plant, a fellow gamer whose skills at the uprights are only surpassed by his extreme narcissism. The The entire video game competition was videotaped. The videotape, as announced by the emcee, will be sent into space by NASA in a capsule to alert possible alien life to our existence and culture. Many years later, Sam (Adam Sandler) has grown up to be divorced and installing home entertainment systems. While Will (Kevin James) is the President of the USA! A bit of a goofy one, but President nonetheless. While on a call, he meets Violet (Michelle Monaghan), a single mother whose marriage has recently fallen apart. In a funny and touching moment, the two find in each other a kindred spirit, though one of them wants to be a bit more kindred than the other. Before things can get too romantic or embarrassing (which will it be?) Sam receives a call from his old friend Will who tells him to get to The White House ASAP.

pixels-adam-sandler-peter-dinklageUpon his arrival, Will tells Sam that Guam was attacked by a powerful, unknown force. The attack was picked up by satellite and bears a strong resemblance to a game they enjoyed in their younger days. What follows is a series of events leading up to the realization that the videotape of the competition was, in fact, found by aliens and they misinterpreted it as a declaration of war. As the extraterrestrial onslaught begins, with the invaders taking on the guise of classic video game characters, Sam must step up and become the man he should have been, using his antiquated gamer talents to save the world. Along for the ride are Will, Violet, the recently resurfaced Ludlow (Josh Gad) who is more paranoid and manic than ever before, and old enemy Eddie (Peter Dinklage) who hasn’t changed a bit in the thirty-odd years since their last meeting.

I gotta admit, I didn’t have the highest of hopes walking into this. I figured there was going to be a lot of mugging for the camera, funny voices, and pratfalls all mixed together in a sea of CGI. But boy was I surprised! The amount of nostalgia watching this characters come to life is immeasurable! The film overall has this great 80’s feel to it. It shot like an 80’s film and has the story of an 80’s film would have. Even has the classic 80’s score. Which all makes sense given the what the film is about. Thinking back on it, it’s basically Ghostbusters with aliens filling in for the ghosts, right down to Donkey Kong taking over for the Marshmallow Man. But for what this film lacks in originality, it more than makes up for it in heart and humor. There are moments between characters that are truly touching, and they are not being shoved down your throat. They come across more in words than in actions, in simple scenes where there is not much more going on than just two people sitting across from one another having a chat.

Some of my favorites involve exchanges between Sam and Violet’s young son Matty (Matt Linz) as they bridge the generation gap between them through their mutual love of video games. This kid isn’t annoying or mean to our hero who so often pops up in these kinds of movies. He’s smart and soft-spoken, and I really enjoyed the bond that develops between him and the guy who has eyes for his mom. The same goes for Sandler and Kevin James. It should come as no surprise that they are friends in real life as there is an ease and naturalness to their interactions that really comes across here. They are truly best buds, even when they are taking the piss out of one another.

Like I mentioned before, Adam Sandler has been on a downward spiral for some time now, but here he is really impressive! Instead of being the guy who passes on cringe worthy insults or just being obnoxious, he is more reserved & calm while keep it low & hilarious on the gags. Kevin James (who is usually annoying as hell) pulls off the President like no other! Other than playing on his usual fat jokes, his funnier moments appear in more real life circumstances.

2848306-pixels_movie4Michelle Monaghan isn’t just some pretty face waiting in the wings to embrace the conquering hero. She’s a tough cookie herself, and plays an important role in the war against the space invaders. The scenes in which she and Sandler playing off one another are a delight. Josh Gad is on an upswing here! He has the best and most wackiest scenes of all! He is totally believable as a sympathetic lunatic. Even though Games of Thrones star Peter Dinklage is probably the best actor of the lot is kinda underwhelming here! His unrelenting self-obsession and need to mock others wears thin pretty quickly, and I kept hoping he would take a cue from his costars and dial it back a bit. Plus having the least screen time of the lot doesn’t help. Its awesome to see many familiar faces pop up here and there, including Sean Bean, Vanessa Williams, Dan Aykroyd and Brian Cox.

Of course the film has its own set of flaws, especially in the second half where the film doesn’t stay as exciting as it starts off, especially the rushed climax was a bit downer for me. Another fact which was running in my mind, while watching this film was – how would the younger audience (which the film is clearly aimed at) would connect with most of these characters whom possibly they would never had heard off! Well, I hope it doesn’t keep them away, as its director Chris Columbus like his previous movies like Home Alone and the 1st two installments of the Harry Potter film has given this film a heart.

On the whole, Pixels, may seem like another family film which attempts to boost up its sales with the nostalgia effect, but is actually more than that! With a near perfect execution, good humor and interesting CGI, the film is treat! A good one that takes you back in time for some nostalgia delight! Welcome back Adam Sandler the actor!

Overall Rating: 7

Director – Chris Columbus
Starring – Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan
Rated – PG13
Run Time – 105 minutes

Movie Review : The Cobbler (2015)

m_TheClobberSynopsis – A cobbler stumbles upon a magical heirloom that allows him to step into the lives of his customers and see the world in a new way.

My Take – For the past few years, just like many 90s A-Lister actors, the quality Adam Sandler movies have been deteriorating. Filled with potty humor or inappropriate jokes or basically the whole premise is based on him & his actor friends on a vacation somewhere! Even though, unlike most people I actually liked his recent Blended (2014), it was comparatively better (I guess).  Judging by the trailer of this film, it didn’t seem like a typical Adam Sandler movie, well yes it has it’s jokes but it’s not his typical shtick as some of that is thrown in for good measure, but much lighter. With an interesting premise in hands, as the opening credits rolled in, I was hoping for a nod to his previously well made family flicks like Click (2006) or Bedtime Stories (2008), well it wasn’t terrible, but it certainly wasn’t good either. The story follows Max Simkin (Adam Sandler), a cobbler who repairs shoes in the same New York shop that has been in his family for generations. Disenchanted with the grind of daily life, Max stumbles upon a magical heirloom that allows him to step into the lives of his customers and see the world in a new way.

Adam-SandlerSometimes walking in another man’s shoes is the only way to discover who you really are. Frankly, I have no idea what director Tom McCarthy was going for here. The film starts off as an old-fashioned comedy with some drama thrown in, but it eventually becomes jumbled in a bunch of subplots that involve saving the neighborhood a murder plot involving gangsters & a real estate conspiracy! With a mix of a dramedy, fantasy comedy, and crime thriller that never mash together leading to the film having a major identity crisis. The main reason why the film fails is because of it’s script. As previously mentioned, the film is an uneven mess. McCarthy and Paul Sado are the only writers, but it feels like they had several people write various subplots that were all mashed together. This could have easily been a PG-rated family film if it hadn’t been for brief moments of unnecessary violence that don’t serve any purpose. Aside from the unevenness of the whole film, the writing itself is pretty poor. Some of the dialogue is laughably awful and incredibly forced, most of which comes from Melonie Diaz and Method Man‘s characters. Despite all of it’s missteps, The Cobbler does have a few factors that keep it from being a complete disaster. Sandler himself does a decent job in the lead role. It’s not a particularity memorable one despite going out of his comfort zone, but he fits the role and uses that to his advantage. Despite being wasted, the film does feature a great cast including Steve Buscemi, Dustin Hoffman, and Dan Stevens who while given little to do, are nice to see on screen. Even though the story itself is pretty predictable, I never found myself bored during the film’s run time. I’m not sure if it’s because of how bizarrely awful some of it is, but the strangeness of the whole thing is enough to keep you amused just to see where it will end up next.

COBBLER_STILL3A.JPGEven though I didn’t laugh once throughout the entire film, there are some occasional chuckle worthy moments such as a montage early on of Sandler discovering his new ability. The film does have a lot of heart and it has morality tale spun in for good measure. With that said, none of the dialogue is clever or good. There is a point where it seems like the film could take a route of having a message about the way a community interacts with one another, but nothing ever comes of it resulting in a rather predictable story in which the twist can be solved about halfway through. I found it strange that they chose to show the other actors in the roles of the side characters when Sandler is “in their shoes”. It would have been funnier and much more enjoyable if it had been done the other way around. On the whole, after a long string of bad comedies, The Cobbler seemed like a right direction for Adam Sandler, but thanks to the poor direction & all the above mentioned, the film turns into a cluttered mess of a film. Well yeah this is no Jack & Jill (2011) or That’s My Boy (2012), but just a missed opportunity to use a interesting premise to spin off a potential franchise.

Overall Rating: 4/10

Director – Thomas McCarthy

Starring – Dan Stevens, Adam Sandler, Steve Buscemi
Rated – PG13
Run Time – 99 minutes

 

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It’s the latter part of the week with new comic releases yesterday.  What did you get?  What do you plan on getting?  While you look forward to a long weekend, here’s the news you might have missed.

Around the Blogs:

The Beat – Center for Cartoon Studies awarded $255,000 community development grant for Inky Solomon CenterGreat to see expansion of this.

Media Bistro – How ComiXology Will Support Independent Creators & PublishersAn interesting conversation and well worth the read.

ICv2 – Transformers 3 Earns $13.5 Million on TuesdayOr it doesn’t open as well cause it’s terrible.

The Beat – Adam Sandler wins legal battle against comic bookSeriously?  Guess you’d have to sue every kid who did this too.

Con Coverage:

The Mary Sue – There Will Be a Full-Sized (at Least on the Outside) TARDIS Replica at San Diego Comic Con

MTV Geek – ‘Heroes And Villains’ Android Figures Heading To SDCC!

Comics Alliance – Plastic Avengers Assemble for Exclusive San Diego Comic-Con Mini Muggs Pack

Bleeding Cool – Is Wizard World New England 2011 The Next To Go?

CBR – Fans plan protest at Comic-Con against DC relaunch

Around the Tubes Reviews:

Bleeding Cool – Batman Incorporated #7 And FF #5

CBR – Detective Comics #878

MTV Geek – The Goon #34 and The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde #3

MTV Geek – Incorruptible #19 and Amory Wars: In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 #12

IGN – Scalped #50

MTV Geek – The Sixth Gun #12

Bleeding Cool – Uncanny X-Men #539 And Flashpoint: Canterbury Cricket

Complex – Review: Is “Detective Comics” Still The Best Book At DC?