Sandler loses the plot
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.