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Aug 172016
 

Remember the old classic arcade games of the early 1980s like Asteroids, Space Invaders, Defender, Frogger, etc.? Well here’s a movie that puts them all together with a modern twist called Pixels.

Home theater installer Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler) was once a video game wizard and even entered an arcade world competition. The secret to his success was memorizing the patterns. Unfortunately, Sam lost on the final game, Donkey Kong. You’ve got to admit that it’s a hard one, since remembering patterns isn’t always the key to succeeding like many video games we have today.

After the competition ends, the footage from it gets put in a time capsule and sent out into space in hopes of finding alien life. Thirty years later, aliens did find the capsule and saw it as a declaration of war, even though that was not Earth’s intention at all. It often seems like any gesture of peace toward extraterrestrials ends up mistaken for war. Like on Mars Attacks when a dove was released, then the aliens go crazy and shoot everyone.

When the aliens arrive on Earth, they attack in the forms of the old classic video game characters, starting with Galaga, then Arknoid. Luckily, Sam’s best friend Will Cooper (Kevin James) is the President of the United States, since Sam’s expertise in gaming is the key to stopping these aliens from destroying the planet. Sam needed that connection so he would be allowed to share his knowledge with the government despite that everyone thinks that President Cooper is a buffoon.

With the assistance of conspiracy nut Ludlow Lamonsoff (Josh Gad) and Lieutenant Colonel Violet Van Patten (Michelle Monaghan) a new squad is formed called the Arcaders. However, it also includes Sam’s old nemesis and arrogant gaming champ Eddie Plant (Peter Dinklage).

The next game the aliens attack with is Centipede. The look from the original game was pretty tame, but this new updated look is cooler and edgier. The battle was exciting and smooth once Sam and Ludlow had the opportunity to take action themselves, even with the giant spiders jumping around.

It’s also neat that even though the aliens don’t show their true forms, they disguise themselves as celebrities from the 80s like Ronald Reagan, Hall & Oates, and young Madonna. Even Max Headroom (Matt Frewer) makes an appearance. Remember that character?

The next game is PAC-Man, a true classic, but as a twist PAC-Man is the enemy. Sam, Ludlow, and Eddie drive cars that represent the ghosts in a wild action sequence. If you thought that it couldn’t get any more exciting, think again.

In the climax, the Arcaders face their greatest challenge yet, Donkey Kong. What are the odds that it’s the one game Sam struggles with most? On the other hand, it’s so awesome that you get to see the game play from such an intense angle.

Although it’s definitely not something you would expect from an Adam Sandler film, Pixels was a creative movie about a love for video games that has plenty of nostalgic value as well as Adam Sandler’s brand of comedy. It’s especially humorous with Q-Bert’s antics.

Sep 032014
 

Loosely based on The Snow Queen, Frozen is about sisters Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel) and Anna (voice of Kristen Bell), who are the princesses of the kingdom of Arendelle. They used to be very close, but a lot changes in a short time.

Elsa was born with ice power, even though it isn’t hereditary, and it gets stronger as she grows older without anyone to teach her how to use it. Elsa accidentally hurts Anna with her ice power. Although Anna was saved, her memories of Elsa’s powers had to be removed. Then instead of providing a teacher, the king and queen keep Elsa isolated in the castle and keeps her power hidden from everyone. Now how is that going to help?

Meanwhile, Anna is completely in the dark about Elsa’s problem and desperate for companionship. So desperate that on the coronation day ball, after Elsa becomes queen, Anna instantly decides to marry a prince she had just met that day.

 

The prince in question is Prince Hans of the Southern Isles (voice of Santino Fantana). He’s the youngest of 13 sons and seems to have a lot in common with Anna. It’s like they were perfect for each other.

Soon disaster strikes when Elsa ends up revealing her powers and causes an endless winter out of fear. Elsa retreats to the mountains, where she never has to hide her power ever again. This led to the song Let it Go, which is the most popular song in this whole movie.

As Anna goes in search of her sister, she finds a trading post. It’s a strange one, but not because it has a sauna. It has plenty of summer clothes, but very few winter supplies. Seriously, why would anyone want to buy summer clothes at a shop in the cold mountains?

There, Anna meets Kristoff (voice of Jonathon Groff). He has a reindeer named Sven and likes to pretend that he can talk, which is funny. However, it’s gross when they share carrots.

Anna also meets up with Olaf (voice of Josh Gad) the snowman. He’s sweet because he loves warm hugs and the thought of summer. Olaf is also funny and tends to literally fall apart, but always manages to pull himself back together again.

There’s also a race of trolls that take the guise of rocks. These trolls are friendly and became Kristoff’s adopted family. When they meet Anna, they tried to get her to marry Kristoff. They don’t feel that way toward each other, or do they.

I enjoyed this film, especially for its level of adventure. When I first saw the trailer it was misleading. It left the impression that Elsa was evil, trying to freeze Arendelle and it was up to Anna to stop her, which would’ve really made this movie interesting. It turns out that Elsa was never evil to begin with and I think that’s a good thing.

One last item: Not too long ago, I went to the Frozen parade at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Olaf