San­dler loses the plot

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - WEEK IN MOVIES -

PIX­ELS ( PG)

Di­rec­tor: Chris Colum­bus ( Home Alone) Star­ring: Adam San­dler, Kevin James, Michelle Mon­aghan, Peter Din­klage, Josh Gad Ver­dict: It’s all in the games. Just don’t play along with Adam

WELL, it took much longer than it should have, but the name of Adam San­dler is now mud as a box- of­fice draw.

A long, la­mentable chain of duds has left the ex- fun­ny­man be­yond sal­va­tion in the eyes of the movie- go­ing public.

Heck, San­dler could sin­gle­hand­edly res­cue tens of thou­sands of new­born pup­pies from a burn­ing build­ing, and it would change noth­ing.

There­fore Pix­els – sure to be the last big- bud­get pro­duc­tion San­dler will ever get near – hits the big screen as pre- tainted goods.

Which is, ar­guably, not quite fair. Though San­dler ( who has hap­pily munched away at much, much worse fare than this) and his cast­mates lazily coast along through­out this er­ratic com­edy- ad­ven­ture af­fair, Pix­els is not en­tirely de­void of cre­ative film­mak­ing merit.

So let’s cover off on the good stuff squir­relled away in­side an oth­er­wise loud, messy and of­ten an­noy­ing mo­tion pic­ture. ( Ex­hibit A: the US Pres­i­dent is played by Kevin James, aka the bloke from Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2).

The core premise of Pix­els – based on a ( very) short film of the same name – is un­de­ni­ably

LIFE ( MA15+)

ap­peal­ing. Earth is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a se­quence of alien at­tacks that is man­i­fest­ing it­self in a cu­ri­ously ob­scure form. Put sim­ply, each new as­sault on our planet takes the shape of a prim­i­tive ar­cade video game from the 1980s.

The likes of Pac- Man, Don­key Kong and Space In­vaders are no longer mere an­ti­quated amuse­ments. They are now weapons of mass de­struc­tion.

This sec­tion of the screen­play means that the ex­cit­ing com­bat se­quences in Pix­els – where all kinds of in­con­gru­ous, old- timeygamey hell breaks loose – are just about worth the price of ad­mis­sion.

While there is no one scene vis­ually stun­ning enough to wow any­one who saw the won­der­ful 2012 an­i­mated hit Wreck- It Ralph, the energy at work in Pix­els’ best stretches is al­most in­fec­tious.

How­ever, there is noth­ing ‘ al­most’ about any­thing else on dis­play in Pix­els.

The out- of- form San­dler misses the mark by the widest mar­gin, play­ing yet another whiny man- child ( al­beit one whose dor­mant gamer skills could save the world).

The star does have plenty of com­pany in a rather crowded cast­ing sin- bin, with Michelle Mon­aghan ( clearly em­bar­rassed to be San­dler’s love in­ter­est), Josh Gad ( ev­ery San­dler flick needs a fraz­zled fat dude) and Peter Din­klage ( a lit­tle too scar­ily com­mit­ted to his role) all mark­ing their names in all- caps on the dis- hon­our roll. Di­rec­tor: An­ton Cor­bijn Star­ring: Dane DeHaan, Robert Pat­tin­son, Peter Lu­cas, Lau­ren Gal­lagher Ver­dict: A point, a click, and then he was gone

A CON­SIS­TENTLY in­trigu­ing, if overtly clin­i­cal pe­riod drama, de­tail­ing a brief pe­riod in the all- too- brief life of iconic 1950s ac­tor James Dean. With in­stant and spec­tac­u­lar world­wide fame just months away, Dean ( played by Dane DeHaan) re­luc­tantly agrees to col­lab­o­rate with a strug­gling young pho­tog­ra­pher ( Robert Pat­tin­son) on an ex­ten­sive pic­to­rial es­say for Life mag­a­zine. The re­sult­ing im­ages ( re­mem­ber that shot of Dean’s soli­tary stroll through New York’s Times Square?) are among the most en­dur­ing celebrity por­traits in pop- cul­ture history. El­e­gantly com­posed di­rec­tion from for­mer star pho­tog­ra­pher An­ton Cor­bijn ( A Most Wanted Man) will res­onate with those in awe of those be­hind the lens.

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