Chris Columbus recruits arcade nerds to save the world in 'Pixels'

Thu Jul 23, 2015 8:53pm EDT
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - As an alien race wages war on Earth using vintage arcade games, Adam Sandler leads the nerds taking the spotlight in director Chris Columbus' visual effects spectacle "Pixels."

In "Pixels," opening in U.S. theaters on Friday, aliens mistake old arcade games sent into space in a NASA time capsule as a declaration of war, and they challenge mankind to "play for the planet" with larger-than-life video games attacking Earth.

The president, modeled on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and played by Kevin James, recruits his childhood arcade friends - Adam Sandler's dorky Brenner, Josh Gad's eccentric Ludlow and Peter Dinklage's over-confident 'Fire Blaster' - to battle alien arcade games.

"They're the only ones who know how to play the games, and I was immediately taken with that concept. It just felt fresh and original in a summer of lots of superhero movies and sequels," said director Columbus.

The director, whose hit movies include 1990's "Home Alone" and two "Harry Potter" films, said his biggest challenge was using visual effects to bring games alive.

The film's appeal hinges on nostalgia for the arcade culture of the 1980s, from a giant Centipede hurtling through the skies of London to an enormous Pac-Man crunching through the streets of New York, chased by Mini Cooper 'ghosts,' and a huggable Q*bert.

The video games characters could draw a younger generation, said Columbus.

"I never had a sense of who the movie would appeal to. I'm sure the studio talked about that, but now I'm finding out that it's appealing to kids," he said.   Continued...

Film director Chris Columbus attends the premiere of the movie "Pixels" in New York July 18, 2015. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz