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July 31st, 2015

Movie Review - Pixels


Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad, Matt Lintz, Brian Cox, Sean Bean, Jane Krakowski, Dan Aykroyd, Penelope Wilton, and more.

Directed by: Chris Columbus Screenplay by: Tim Herlihy and Timothy Dowling Screen Story by: Tim Herlihy Based on the Short Film "Pixels" by: Patrick Jean Cinematography by: Amir Mokri Music by: Henry Jackman

Premise: In 1982, Brenner discovered video game arcades and the fact he could figure out the patterns and score really high on them. In the same year, he entered a video game competition, which was being filmed and sent as part of a NASA probe carrying info on Earth for possible contact with alien species. 33 years later, Brenner has yet to live up to his potential, while those around him have fulfilled theirs. Yet when there's an attack on a US base in Guam, his time to shine might finally have arrived. (Rated PG-13)


1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Playing the dispirited underdog is one of Adam Sandler's strengths, and he does it here very well. Michelle Monaghan makes a nice foil for Sandler, especially after the misunderstandings after they first meet. Kevin James did an exceptional job as Cooper. Totally loved the use of Penelope Wilton as England's Prime Minister, especially since she's already played the PM in Dr. Who! (Yes, I am easily tickled! :P)

2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: This film truly had a ton of lovely special effects. Seeing a bunch of beloved 80's arcade games come to life in 3D was a treat.  They even replicated the best bits from the original short by Patrick Jean - watching buildings shrink by matching Tetris tiles was too fun!

All my favorite 80's games and more were represented. Donkey Kong, Joust, Galaga, Centipede, Asteroids, Pong, and a ton more. My favorite replicated character was Q-bert! Though it was weird to hear him talk English. Heh heh. He was too cute!

The most impressive effect of the lot is probably Pac Man. They made him scary! Centipede up close was rather scary, too!

During the credits - they go super old school. They do the entire movie as a 2D low pixel game. Adorable!

For anyone who played arcade games in the 80's this will be a fun trip back in time. :) They even sneak in some of the original game music!

3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: When I first saw the trailer for this film I was sure it would either be good or very very bad. I'm happy to say it ended up on the 'good' side. They actually worked at it and even had a couple of plot tracks running at once, giving the film a little more substance than you'd expect.

One of the main themes played with at multiple levels and situations was love. Yep, you read right - love. Even geek love! Heh heh. (Even rather 'weird' love, too!)

Some of the humor was lukewarm, but other bits were quite precious. It all depends on your taste in humor.

And believe it or not, they actually have a surprise or two in the plot! Even some commentary on the difference between games then and games now. Using 80's shows, personalities, and commercials for how the aliens communicate - priceless! (And wait till you see the surprise speaker when the crew tries to get under the mother ship! Squee!) (My daughter had no idea who I was talking about. So sad...)

4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: Great job by all the people running, screaming, jumping out of half disintegrated cars, etc.  Some cool driving scenes, too! Especially during the Pacman sequence. Nice work!

5) Music - Total Thumbs Up: Lots of popular 80's titles along with some great background music by Henry Jackman.

Conclusion: "Pixels" is a fun little film with tons of 80's arcade nostalgia thrown in. Watch the credits for a condensed version of the movie in old style 2D pixels!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

For fun, I've included the short film by Patrick Jean the movie is based on. Too darn cute!

Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic



(2015) Fantasy

The King is Dead! Long Live the Undead King!

"What are you implying?"

The magister glided forward and scrunched down beside him.

"That in order to bathe, you must first actually get into the bath."


(2014) Urban Fantasy

It took everything from her, except revenge!

The muscles in my right arm jerked from tension as I tried to make it move and it resisted. A shrill scream inside my head insisted I didn't want to do this. That if I did, there'd be no way to take it back. "I...I'm afraid."


(2011) Young Adult – Fantasy

Which is worse…the monster without or within?


Home—family—the two things he would never have, the two things forever denied him…because of her.

Anger welled inside him, the heat of it suffusing him to the core, gurgling with seething emotions the total opposite of the coolness splashing down from the fountain nearby. Before he realized what he was doing, Jarrin stepped inside the gazebo.

(2007) Young Adult – Fantasy
“Harry Potter meets Dragon Riders of Pern”


“Do you need any help?” she asked. “Just tell me what you want me to do. If you prefer, I’m sure I can round up at least a few people to come over and give you a hand.”

Kel slowly shook his head. “It’s all right. Thanks anyway.” His voice lowered to where she almost couldn’t hear it. “This is all part of my punishment.’

She frowned, not understanding what he meant. “Punishment?”

Kel cocked his head in Clarence’s direction. In a flash, she understood. None of this was an accident. Clarence had landed there deliberately, hoping to make Kel pay for all he went through in the past month. She shook her head, not wanting to believe this, but what the dragon said next took any doubts right out of her head.

(2008) Young Adult – Fantasy
“To save the world she must DIE! Or must she?”


Panic and fear filled with utter helplessness made her dizzy. She knew what would be done with her, she knew what they planned. But there was nothing she could do to stop any of it.

Sharp gasps echoed in her ears as she felt the room’s cold air caress the Eye.

“You were right. She is the one.”

(2002) Adult/YA – Japanese Fantasy Adventure
“The Last Samurai meets Pirates of the Caribbean”


Laying the blade on the floor before him, Toshi parted his kimono until his stomach lay exposed. He tucked his sleeves beneath his legs to hold him upright if he should falter. Ignoring Asano, he took up the blade. His shoulder flared with pain and he tried not to flinch, as he grabbed the blade with both hands. He turned the wakizashi until its sharp point was aimed at his belly, the residence of his soul.

(2004) Adult/YA – Fantasy Mystery
“He tried to forget his past, but his past wouldn’t forget him”


Torren took a step back a sudden shudder racking through him. It was as if he’d never left, as if the boy he’d been would be coming back-though the one who’d loved this room and all these things was long, long dead. That boy died when he’d watched his father’s blood pour forth from his mouth, the end of a sword protruding from his abdomen. That boy died when he survived while everyone else lay dead.

Info, sample chapters, and free reads at www.gloriaoliver.com

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