Hollywood’s last foray into the inner world of videogames resulted in the brilliantly tongue-in-cheek Wreck-It-Ralph. The 2012 family comedy explored the workings of a regular gaming arcade when the humans leave and the 8-bit inhabitants of its games run riot. While that caper delighted in its animated format, for Sony’s summer tentpole comedy Pixels, those iconic characters come to life in a live-action extravaganza.
Brought to the screen by Chris Columbus (Harry Potter, Mrs. Doubtfire), Pixels takes its inspiration from a 2010 short film and expands on its retro-meta story. After NASA sends a time capsule into space, packed with pop culture items representative of life on earth, an extraterrestrial race seizes it and misconstrues its contents. The aliens who receive the goods mistakenly conclude that the bundle of video games included are actually a threat from humans – and so begins an intergalactic war.
The twist? For their Earth-bound assault, the aliens appear in the guise of Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Frogger, Donkey Kong, Qbert and a similar wave of recognisable gaming figures, utilizing the game formats to facilitate a deadly attack. It’s now up to the President (Kevin James) to enlist his old buddy Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler) – a noted video game champion – to lead the planet’s counter-attack.
As the first chunk of footage has now debuted in the teaser trailer, the broader aims present themselves immediately. This is a gigantic, summer blockbuster with no expense spared on the CGI. A cluster of iconic gaming avatars run amok around New York City, trampling it to rubble like digital Godzillas. It’s impressive to witness, and hopefully the finished movie will wring out more comedy from its talented ensemble of actors.
Pixels arrives in theaters on July 24. Michelle Monaghan, Peter Dinklage, and Josh Gad co-star.
When intergalactic aliens misinterpret video-feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war against them, they attack the Earth, using the games as models for their various assaults. President Will Cooper (James) has to call on his childhood best friend, ’80s video game champion Sam Brenner (Sandler), now a home theater installer, to lead a team of old-school arcaders (Dinklage and Gad) to defeat the aliens and save the planet.