Ants, Pixels, and Superheroes in One Weekend

Sam and Scott are two of the most unlikely underdogs to save the world, but as in many Hollywood narratives, these individuals are “diamonds in the rough,” who salvage themselves through trials and tribulations and save the world.

The first underdog is Sam (Adam Sandler) the lead character in Pixels, directed by Chris Columbus. A few reviews of this film were enthusiastic while others were tepid, but I decided to see the film. If nothing else, I felt I might learn what commentary there would be about game cultures.

The prologue of the film starts in 1982 with 13-year-old Sam  and best friend Will on a visit to a newly opened video arcade. Sam masters many of the games, like  Pac-Man, Centipede, Tetris and Space Invaders.

Fast forward to adulthood, Will (Kevin James) has become President of the United States, and Sam, an electronic repair technician.  The nation falls under alien attack of arcade game figures from, you guessed it, Pac-Man, Centipede, Tetris and Space Invaders. POTUS calls on his childhood friend Sam, who remembers how to crack the strategic code of the invaders. Sam and his former arcade buddies accomplish this as a hopelessly bulky and obsolete military watches in amazement.

Pixels is not a scarry movie nor a sci fi thriller, but the film does work as juvenile fiction that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It is based on a 2010 French animated short by Patrick Jean that has been stretched out and extended with farcical filler. The animation comes off technically well, but after the first few characters built of luminous blocks that look like Jello squares, the animation doesn’t evolve into much of anything else, nor does it bring much surprise.

The second unlikely superhero is Scott, who leaves the life of an exconvict and becomes Ant Man (Paul Rudd). Scott soon redeems his fate as a superhero, guided by the rogue scientist, Dr. Pym (Micheal Douglas).

Ant Man is fascinating in many delightful ways. The science fiction is brought off with convincing  CGI and capitalizes on the industry of the ant world. I went to the film wondering what the director, Peyton Reed, could do with something so ordinary and tiny as ants. But as the film rolled I began to remember how interesting ants became when science teachers presented them as architects, engineers, and builders of colonies. These ants in their forceful numbers show their power. In their own modest and industrious way, the ants, with Ant Man at the front, take out villains, knock out artificial intelligence systems, and save the world.

Ant Man is a good film and you are a fan of comic movies like the avengers, don’t miss it, and don’t miss the TWO trailers after the credits!

Two unlikely heroes in two very different films. Check them out: