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3D Blu-ray Review Pixels: The HTF 3D ADDICT REVIEW (1 Viewer)

Ronald Epstein

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What can I say? I love 3D! From the moment I began watching 3D content in my home I quickly discovered that I needed more content. I suspect that those of you just purchasing your first 3D hardware will acquire the same ferocious appetite. That's why I became the HTF 3D ADDICT. I personally love images that pop off the screen and come inches away from your face without becoming overly gimmicky. However, I certainly appreciate the nature documentaries that offer beautiful depth and separation. These are not necessarily reviews of the film themselves. I am not going to concentrate on story or supplements -- you can find the 2D reviews elsewhere on this forum. My job is to let you know exactly what kind of 3D experience to expect from the titles that are being released. As I will be receiving a handful of new product from the studios expect to see more title coverage.







PIXELS

Studio: Sony
Product Release: October 27, 2015
Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: 5.1 DTS-HD MA
Running Time: 106 minutes
Rating: PG-13


On A Scale 0-5

Overall 3D Presentation Rating: 4
3D Separation: 4
3D In Yo' Face Factor: 3


I can just imagine the pitch that was made to the executives at Sony Studios....

"We have this great idea for a movie where aliens intercept a time capsule filled with 1980s arcade classic games and misinterpret it as an acknowledgement of war on Earth."

Wow! What a great idea that must have seemed. If only they didn't turn it into an Adam Sandler movie.

As thus, Pixels is a film that's mostly fun, filled with great promise, but unevenly executed thanks to the fact that it has been dumbed down into a Sandler and company vehicle.

The film opens during the 1980s arcade world championships where a young Sam Brenner clearly shows his skills as an ace video game player. Sam has the unique ability to recognize programming patterns within arcade classics and commit them to memory.



Jump ahead some 30 years later where Sam (Adam Sandler) is being summoned to the White House by his childhood friend, and now U.S. President (Kevin James), after an alien invasion has taken place. When Sam recognizes the invasion patterns match that of the video games he mastered as a teen, he gets his rag-tag team of washed-up gamers together to take on the space invaders.

On the surface, Pixels serves as a fantastic homage to 80s video games that explode onto the screen in often-impressive 3D. However, it's been completely dumbed down into an Adam Sandler film filled with bad acting, only mildly amusing humor, and a premise that is probably more interesting to a gamer from that era than anyone else who might be viewing. It's hard to believe that Chris Columbus, the man behind Home Alone and Mrs. Doubtfire couldn't do anything more interesting with the script he was provided with.



Pixels sports an above average transfer with razor-sharp detailed images and convincing green screen effects. Like every other 3D film produced today, this is an effort that was upconverted in post production. However, as such, I was fairly impressed with its results. In fact, the 3D makes a barely tolerable film into something that, at times, is immensely enjoyable. Alien attacks take form of crude graphic classic video games, all presented with immersive depth and pronunciation. The film's finale, a Donkey Kong sequence, becomes particularly impressive when viewers get to watch it in multiple dimensions.

I can immediately understand the budget constraints for a film like this being lensed natively in 3D. It's sad that this opportunity was missed, as Pixels is the perfect candidate for exploiting in-yo'-face gimmickry. The best that we get here are a few minor forward projections, with most of them being mere slip-overs outside of the widescreen bars. Downward camera angles take particular advantage of displaying depth, and I particularly liked how the video game score overlays projected themselves outwards towards the viewer. With all that in mind, the 3D release of this film is a step-up from its 2D counterpart.



Very disappointing to see that this 3D presentation was not accompanied with a Dolby Atmos or even 7.1 soundtrack (which is available only on the 2D release). This is a hugely missed opportunity for the film's engaging mix that we only get to experience in DTS-HD MA 5.1. The good news is that the filmmakers have taken advantage of filling each of the channels with all-encompassing effects that hit you from every direction. The inclusion of a toe-tapping 80s music soundtrack is quite immersive as well. This is genuinely one of the better mixes I have heard of late -- so convincing that I was actually fooled into believing that my rear channels weren't supporting the efforts.

Pixels comes with three 3D trailers: The Walk, Hotel Transylvania 2 and Goosebumps. Both 3D and 2D Blu-ray discs arrive in lenticular cardboard outer packaging. A digital HD copy is included.

Take note of the clever retro 80s Blu-ray menu design when pausing and fast-forwarding. A very savvy addition by the Sony team.



CONCLUSION



I have made it known many times that I am not a fan of Adam Sandler. I don't generally find his films funny or entertaining. It is my opinion that Pixels could have been a monstrous, more successful effort if it had not been dumbed down as it has been. Despite all its shortcomings, it may surprise you to find that I actually enjoyed parts of this film. The 80s action sequences are wonderfully accomplished, and look quite extraordinary in 3D.

In all, I give Pixels a recommendation, though I think it will appeal more to those that remember the era of Madonna and Max Headroom than those that grew up with Playstation and Xbox. This is one of those films that actually is saved by its 3D presentation, and quite frankly, I don't see how it can be enjoyed any other way.



Images are for illustrative purpose only not representative of the picture quality of this disc.

Equipment

Sony HW55ES Front Projector calibrated by Gregg Loewen, Lion AV
Oppo BDP-93 3D Blu-ray Player
Denon 3311CI Receiver
Atlantic Technology H-PAS AT-1 fronts, 4400 center; 4200 rear side and back speakers
SV Sound Subwoofer
 

Matt Hough

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Thanks for the review, Ron. I have been on the fence about this release because of the wide-ranging theatrical reviews it received (some of the worst I've ever read and yet more than a few critics gave it passing grades) and the fact that, like you, Adam Sandler usually doesn't do it for me (I do enjoy his Dracula in the Hotel Transylvania films). I think I'll have to find a discount price on the 3D release to get it, but at least you've kept my interest in it active.


Good job!
 

Tony J Case

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Take note of the clever retro 80s Blu-ray menu design when pausing and fast-forwarding.

Since I would rather die in a fire than watch this movie, the odds of me renting the disc are slim to none. Care to post a screenshot of what the menu design looks like?
 

Aaron Silverman

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FWIW, my son (who is into video games but is way too young for any nostalgia factor here) loves Adam Sandler and he LOOOOOOOOOOOVED this movie.


I guess I would call myself a mild Sandler fan -- I neither love nor hate him. I enjoyed this movie. IMO, it's certainly worth a rental unless you really can't stand him.
 

John Maher_289910

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I am in no way, shape or form an Adam Sandler fan, but I purchased this 3D Blu-ray, because I mistook what I read about the 3D in a review I read for TERMINATOR GENISYS, for PIXELS. Regardless, I enjoyed the film, and the 3D conversion is well done, and I can only imagine that it enhances the enjoyment of the film, but I'm certainly never watching it in 2D to find out.
 

Reed Grele

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Ron, I totally agree with your review.


BTW, the only Adam Sandler film that works for me is Anger Management. Although I really consider it a Jack Nicholson film. :)
 

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