REVIEW: Pixels (12A) **

PA Photo/Sony Pictures
PA Photo/Sony Pictures
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Pixels is an action comedy which harks back to the bygone era before smartphones and immersive 4D, when guiding a circular yellow head around a maze with four coloured ghosts in hot pursuit, was the height of hi-tech entertainment.

Based on a short film of the same title by Patrick Jean, Chris Columbus’ big budget romp imagines life-size arcade games on the streets of bustling modern cities.

Except here, losing a life could mean the end of planet Earth.

Scriptwriters Tim Herlihy and Timothy Dowling fail to capitalise on this neat and tantalising premise, crafting an inane story of triumph against adversity that treats female characters as pretty baubles.

Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler) installs software for a living, while Will Cooper (Kevin James) has become the deeply unpopular President of the United States.

Alien invaders attack Guam military base with energy that has been coded to swarm like the creatures in the arcade game Galaga.

Pixels is a nostalgia-drenched bore, hung on the centerpiece recreations of classic games

In order to halt the alien advance, mankind must compete in life-or-death versions of Centipede and Pacman.

Sam and Will reunite with old pals Ludlow Lamonsoff (Josh Gad) and Eddie Plant (Peter Dinklage) to secure mankind’s victory, armed with light cannons fashioned by military weapons specialist Lieutenant Colonel Violet van Patten (Michelle Monaghan).

‘Let the nerds take over!’ she bellows defiantly.

Please don’t.

Pixels is a nostalgia-drenched bore, hung on the centerpiece recreations of classic games, which result in the destruction of swathes of London and Manhattan.

Sandler sucks the dwindling energy out of every frame, unable to muster any enthusiasm for his two-dimensional role.

Columbus, who directed the first two installments of the Harry Potter films, fails miserably to conjure the same magic.

Regrettably, it’s game over from the opening frames.