Video game adaptation

Review: Pixels

Jul 24 // Nick Valdez
[embed]219694:42503:0[/embed] PixelsDirector: Chris ColumbusRated: PG-13Release Date: July 24, 2015 In Pixels, Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler) was a kid who was nearly the Donkey Kong National Champion. After losing the big match against Eddie "Fireblaster" Plant (Peter Dinklage), he resigns to an unfulfilling life of installing televisions for a Best Buy-esque company while his best friend "Chewie" (Kevin James) becomes a down on his luck President of the Untied States. When a probe full of their videogames is seen as an act of war by an alien race, Sam and conspiracy nut Ludlow (Josh Gad) have to step up and save the world from three rounds of pixel fueled shenanigans. Also Lt. Colonel Van Patten (Michelle Monaghan) and her son are there to give Sam something to fight for, I guess.  Pixels may share some troubling similarities with Adam Sandler's recent glut of films (which I'll get to in a minute), but it's also got a faint sense of the good kind of nostalgia. You see, his standard schlub act works well here since the entire film is meant to invoke that 80s "average guy with inane skill becomes big hero" trope. And because it works so well, the rest of the film almost plays out like one of Sandler's early 90s comedies (albeit without the jokes). In terms of overall tone, once the film delves deep into the premise and Sam starts playing against the aliens, Pixels is a lot of healthy fun. Everything's wonderfully simplified. The aliens (who deliver their messages through stock footage of 80s icons) don't have a motive other than to destroy the Earth (or needing a million allowances worth of quarters to do their laundry), the games involved (like Breakout, Centipede, and Pac-Man) aren't filled with complicated rules to weigh the fun down, and the pixelated monsters themselves are gorgeous. But that's unfortunately where the positive stuff ends.  Pixels may be a reminder of the fun these kinds of movies used to be, but it also reminds you of how much movies have evolved since then. Because Pixels leans so heavily on the past, it can't help but trudge up all of the problematic elements of the era it wants to embody. For example, there are only two women featured in the film and they're treated horribly (which doesn't reflect well on the current perception of gaming culture as a whole). Lt. Colonel Van Patten is meant to be this "strong" female character, and she even gets one well choreographed bit toward the end, but her first introduction is belittled by Sandler's character. After he compliments her looks, he finds her crying as a result of her sudden divorce not two minutes later. And the second character, a videogame heroine named Lady Lisa, is literally a trophy the aliens give the Earth for winning one of the games which one of the characters ends up marrying. She gets no dialogue, and ends up with most mentally unstable of the "Arcaders" Ludlow, the conspiracy nut who lives with his grandmother and worships the character.  The lack of agency just feeds into the old mindset of gamers being older white males with social misgivings. One of the running jokes is these guys are only acknowledged as "the nerds." In this day and age where every literal kid and grandparent is able to play games on some kind of device, it's jarring to go back to hearing such close mindedness. Especially from a film that wants to celebrate these games (going so far as to have Sam explain why arcades were so important, and feature a scene where he decries the current violent nature of videogames). It's totally a "cake and eat it too" situation where Pixels definitely wants to mirror classic films like Ghostbusters, yet have a cynical eye toward the folks who might enjoy themselves while watching. It's that kind of self loathing that brings the whole film down.  There's just so much more to talk about, yet so little time. That's why I was so confused when I initially started writing this review. Even after all of this, I still have idea who Pixels is meant for, nor do I know who to blame for its existence. I can't even say Adam Sandler did a bad job because he actually wasn't his usual self. Lacking his usual lethargic attitude (which he starts off with then hastily has to change out of thanks to some well placed dialogue degrading his love of shorts), Sandler's never been more physical. There's also a lack of the standard poop and fart jokes you'd expect because the film's not really for kids (there's no way they'd appreciate seeing Paperboy and Joust sprites on the same screen).  Oh right, I guess I should mention there were zero jokes that appealed to me. While there is fun in the way sequences are set up, none of the fun is stemmed from the dialogue. Also, I saw in 3D and would definitely recommend seeing the pixelated monsters in that fashion. Then again, maybe you should avoid this altogether so you don't end up feeling the same confusion? I don't know.  Pixels plays so poorly, it doesn't even get to put its initials on the high score screen. 
Pixels Review photo
Insert coin to ignore
I really have no idea where to start with this. Usually when I sit down to write a review I'll have an angle by which to tackle a film, but with Pixels, I'm at a loss. I don't really know who the film is for. Is it a comedy a...

Warcraft photo
Warcraft

These Warcraft character posters are certainly something


Jul 12
// Nick Valdez
San Diego Comic Con took place this past weekend so that means we've gotten all sorts of news and first looks. But since we're not at the convention we won't see any of the truly juicy stuff until studios decide to show foota...
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Michael K. Williams joins Assassin's Creed, Ghostbusters


Omar comin'
Jul 07
// Matt Liparota
Michael K. Williams is set to join a couple of big movies next year that'll have nerds in a tizzy. The fan-favorite alum of The Wire will join Paul Feig's Ghostbusters and Justin Kurzel's Assassin's Creed adaptation. Williams...

Assassin's Creed photo
Assassin's Creed

Assassin's Creed pulls in another female lead in Ariane Labed


Still no word on casting for hay carts
Jun 25
// Matthew Razak
Yes the Assassin's Creed movie is actually happening this time we promise. With Michael Fassbender behind it and Marion Cotillard all signed up, plus promotional posters announcing the release date of December 21, 2016, ...
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The Rock will star in live-action Rampage adaptation


Hopefully he plays the giant lizard
Jun 23
// Matt Liparota
It's something of a pop culture truism that it's impossible to make a good – or even competent – movie based on a video game. That doesn't stop studios from trying, of course, probably thanks to the fact that the ...
Video Games photo
Video Games

New trailer for Hitman: Agent 47 spoils the ending


Come watch the entire film
Jun 23
// Matthew Razak
A word of warning before you click play: this is like one of those trailers that gives away pretty much all of the movie. The first trailer for Hitman: Agent 47 actually got me a little excited for the film if for no oth...
Pixels Trailer photo
Pixels Trailer

Newest trailer for Pixels is gamey


Sort of like how deer meat tastes
May 19
// Nick Valdez
I have a hard time figuring out exactly who Pixels is made for. Is it for the man children that Adam Sandler has spent his entire career trying to sell to, or is it for folks who'd recognize videogames in general? In the same...
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First look at World of Warcraft's Orgrim


Do you even lift, bro?
May 18
// Matthew Razak
It's been a long road for the World of Warcraft movie, but we're at a point now that it's actually happening. No, really, guys. Here's a picture of a character from it. Not just any character, one of the leads. Orgrim, p...
Five Nights Movie photo
Five Nights Movie

Warner Bros developing Five Nights at Freddy's movie


Apr 08
// Nick Valdez
Every day I get a bit older, and every time something like this happens, that fact really sinks in. In less than a year, Scott Cawthon's Five Night's at Freddy's videogame series (which follows a night security guard watching...
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Metal Gear Solid adaptation to be written by Jay Basu


METAL GEAR!
Mar 31
// Per Morten Mjolkeraaen
As Deadline reports that Jay Basu will write the screenplay for Sony Pictures feature film adaptation of the hugely popular Metal Gear Solid video game, it seems the pieces are finally falling into place.  We've hea...

Review: Dead Rising: Watchtower

Mar 26 // Nick Valdez
[embed]219149:42297:0[/embed] Dead Rising: WatchtowerDirector: Zach LipovskyRelease Date: March 27th, 2015 (exclusively on Crackle)Rating: NR  In Watchtower, the zombie virus has spread round the world and the government has issued a super drug, known as Zombrex, in order to cure it. Digital journalist Chase Carter (Jesse Metcalfe) and his partner Jordan (Keegan Connor Tracy) end up getting caught in the latest outbreak when a bad string of Zombrex infects a stadium full of people. As Chase tries to survive, he runs into a woman who's already infected named Crystal (Meghan Ory), and now they must work together to survive the zombies, figure out what's going on with the Zombrex, and most importantly, escape from the group of psychopaths on the loose.  Watchtower had quite a bit of an undertaking on its hands. If you're not aware of the Dead Rising games, just know they're famous for featuring a single guy cheesin' his way through hordes of zombies while he wears crazy outfits, makes anything he can into weapons, and its narrative is one of the worst in zombie fiction. So, having Watchtower not be a complete mess is already a huge plus. It fixes this by creating a narrative all its own rather than try and adapt the current stories available. In fact it relegates Frank West, here in the film awesomely played by Rob Riggle and one of the series' flamboyantly divisive characters, to the sidelines whereas the film could've completely derailed had its tone focused on the wackiness of that character. Instead he's used wonderfully here. Adding a bit of levity in between heavier scenes and getting the laugh like only Rob Riggle can. A line like "I'll smack you with that TV" works because the film allows Riggle to be as slimy and goofy as he can while paying homage to videogames themselves.  With zombie cinema as prevalent as it is, it's hard not to get a sense of "been there, done that" with any zombie film. We've seen everything from the grittiest of grit to the hokiest of cheese, so Watchtower tries its best to find a middle ground between the two. There is a sense of loss as the film struggles to find an adequate tone for a good chunk of the film. It might be a result of the film taking the subject matter at face value. Meaning that any goofiness the series is known for is only implied, and scenes only come off as inherently hokey. While this shouldn't have worked, I really enjoyed the little asides the film gives to its corniness. For example, in an awesome Shaun of the Dead like fashion, one of the first things the characters do when the outbreak breaks is to use whatever they can find as a weapon. Which means at one point, Chase fights a zombie clown holding an axe with a muffler before running it over in such a cool way. It's a nice bit of staging that you don't see much in zombie media. It's always a matter of a survivor fighting with the one weapon they have rather than literally using everything at their disposal. As for its lead, Jesse Metcalfe holds his own well enough but Chase doesn't have enough character for Metcalfe to sink his teeth into. It's just sort of an every man. That's a consequence of having Frank West be a part of the film too. That character is so magnanimous every time he's on screen, that every thing else loses spark unwittingly. That's not to say the film completely lacks personality, however. There's a scene early on that marries the game's quirk with the film's grit and makes for a particularly gripping scene. It's shot well (as it's just a constant, smooth take following Chase through a field of zombies), there's a bit where a weapon wears out and he has to switch, and it was one of the few times there was suspense. Chase just becomes a super zombie killer after that point, and while that's interesting in its own right, it does lose a little pizzazz. Then again, that's also a shout out to the game series so kudos to the film.  Dead Rising: Watchtower isn't perfect as it runs for a bit too long, the psychopaths wear a little thin (as the lead gets a weird speech explaining his motivations), and there's a jarring first person camera trick used too often early on. But don't let that deter you away from watching it for yourself. A fantastic videogame adaptation that absolutely nails why the games sell so well, yet never feels alienating for folks who have no idea where this film stems from.  As one of Sony's Crackle service's big headlining originals, this is indeed a good show of what's to come. If they can keep churning out excellent films like this, I'll definitely stick around to see what's next. 
Dead Rising Review photo
"Zombies, huh? I had a feeling you'd show up..."
Videogames have had a rough time in cinema. Since videogames are such an interactive medium, a film adaptation always misses out on the intimacy of player involvement or the videogame's story struggles to find an identity in ...

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Steven Spielberg to direct Ready Player One


The legendary director will tackle the sci-fi adaptation
Mar 26
// Matt Liparota
The Warner Bros./Village Roadshow adaptation of Ernie Cline's sci-fi novel Ready Player One just got a huge boost in credibility and visibility. Legendary director Steven Spielberg has signed on to helm the video-game fueled ...
Pixels Trailer photo

Remember when it was announced that they were making a full movie based off of that short film about arcade sprites across the New York skyline? Remember when it was also announced that Adam Sandler was starring in the proje...

Dead Rising Trailer photo
Dead Rising Trailer

Newest Dead Rising: Watchtower trailer is pretty fun, actually


Mar 10
// Nick Valdez
Starring the John Tucker Must Die kid, the AllState guy, and Rob Riggle as the best f**king Frank West possible, Dead Rising: Watchtower looks surprisingly good. With this trailer elaborating on the bits we got from the firs...
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Settlers of Catan rights for film and TV acquired


Hopefully it's just not three hours of sheep trading
Feb 20
// John-Charles Holmes
If there's one thing The LEGO Movie has proven to audiences and, most importantly, producers, is that there's a good movie hidden inside every property, including toys.  Which is why I'm not really sure how to react when...
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Marion Cotillard joins Assassin's Creed


It's an all-out Macbeth reunion!
Feb 16
// Per Morten Mjolkeraaen
Marion Cotillard is set to join Michael Fassbender in the Assassin's Creed movie, according to a Deadline exclusive. We've heard talks and rumours about a live-action adaptation of the best-selling Ubisoft franchise for years...
Dead Rising Trailer photo
Dead Rising Trailer

First teaser trailer for Dead Rising: Watchtower


Jan 23
// Nick Valdez
For a film based off the cheesy Dead Rising videogames going straight to Sony's Crackle streaming service, this doesn't look that bad. Doesn't have enough Frank West covering wars though. Dead Rising: Watchtower is available March 27th. 
Fox Release Dates photo
Fox Release Dates

Fox reveals release dates for Gambit, Assassin's Creed and others


Jan 06
// Nick Valdez
As we've covered here before, Fox has been working on an Assassin's Creed film for some time now. Every time we've gotten a release date for it, it either gets pushed back or swept under the rug. I don't want to say that it's...
Warcraft photo
Warcraft

Warcraft movie reveals cast, characters, and two new posters


WAR HUH YEAH WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?
Nov 10
// Nick Valdez
It may have been in a sticky development the last few years (with Sam Raimi leaving the project, Duncan Jones signing on as the new director, and going through a few rewrites), a movie based off one of the biggest videogames ...
Dead Rising photo
Dead Rising

Rob Riggle is Frank f**king West


Covered wars and such
Oct 21
// Nick Valdez
Remember when I told you all that a movie based on the Dead Rising videogame series was in the works for Sony's Crackle digital service? Yeah, I wasn't thrilled about the concept either, but proving movies work in mysterious ...
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Angry Birds cast announced


People need to not play so much Angry Birds
Oct 01
// Matthew Razak
You weren't excited for it, but some folks out there were. The folks behind the Angry Birds movie set up a challenge to reveal the cast once 1 billion birds were slung in the game. That happened, and now you too can read...
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Tetris is really getting a movie


Cast stands in line, but disappears
Sep 30
// Matthew Razak
Never, ever underestimate Hollywood's love of a brand. They'll take even the most plotless thing in the world and make a movie out of it. Well, now they've found an even more plotless thing. Tetris is getting a movie. No...
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Shadow of the Colossus movie is still a thing, has new director


One day perhaps you will make atonement for what you've done
Sep 04
// Matthew Razak
I'm pretty sure once the Shadow of the Colossus movie is made we'll be repeating that subheader (which is a quote from the game) back at the filmmakers because despite being awesome I fear they will ruin it. Wait, you fo...
Dead Rising photo
Dead Rising

Dead Rising movie gets a director


Aug 21
// Nick Valdez
Wait, did we ever get around to telling you all there's a film based on the almost popular Dead Rising videogames in the works? You think we're ready for the zombie parade again? If there's any good zombie idea, it's how Dead...
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Watch Pierce Brosnan play GoldenEye 007 on the Nintendo 64


Good luck, Mr. Bond
Aug 20
// Liz Rugg
I'm pretty sure everyone who grew up in the 90s either had or knew someone who had the James Bond videogame GoldenEye 007. I literally have two N64 copies of this game. It's probably one of the most popular games of the Nint...
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Images of Hitman: Agent 47 get all bald


Looking a lot like Agent 47 there
Aug 05
// Matthew Razak
The Hitman games make for some pretty easy action fodder, and the movie that released in 2007 based on them wasn't all that bad. It didn't really take off though, so why not reboot! The new Hitman film, Hitman: Agen...
Last of Us Details photo
Last of Us Details

Sam Raimi had to save The Last of Us adaptation from the game's writer


Also, some possible casting news
Jul 25
// Alec Kubas-Meyer
The Last of Us was a fascinating movie with a not-very-good game attached to it. The narrative and cutscenes told a compelling story that were undermined at every minute by stupid decisions forced onto the narrative by i...
Pixels photo
Pixels

Pixels gets images, also cameos from Pac-Man and Donkey Kong


"Quarters! A million allowances worth of quarters!"
Jul 23
// Nick Valdez
Pixels, a full fledged film adapted from Patrick Jean's short film of the same name, is about a group of folks who are asked to fight an invasion of videogame characters when they mistake arcade machines as an act of war. Dir...
Space Invaders photo
Space Invaders

Now we're getting a Space Invaders movie


"Invaders! Possibly from space!"
Jul 21
// Nick Valdez
Next up in the long line of turning random properties into movies because sometimes they make money, is Space Invaders. Back when Warner Bros first acquired the rights for a movie adaptation of the Taito arcade game, they tri...
RE: The Final Chapter photo
RE: The Final Chapter

Next Resident Evil film is probably the last one


Probably. Maybe. Possibly.
Jun 18
// Nick Valdez
The Resident Evil series has been a huge moneymaker. Although the original videogame series has been on a decline the last few years (with their parent company Capcom currently under financial duress), the films have made Son...

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