Pixels assaults your eyeholes with a bunch of “hey remember this, the 80’s were so cool, we get it, we remember” imagery. It’s a big screen interpretation of all the video game segments of VH1’s I Love the 80’s series with less jokes. Pixels is the part of the echo chamber / house of mirrors infinite jerk-off nostalgia strip mine fest. Based on the 2010 short film of the same name, Chris Columbus directs the feature length adaptation with Adam Sandler, Kevin James (who plays the President, naturally), Josh Gad, Michelle Monaghan, and Peter Dinklage (who pulls off a pretty sweet Billy Mitchell truth be told). They are all washed-up former arcade champions (except Monaghan because she’s a girlllllllllllll) who have to defend the Earth from an alien invasion posing as a bunch of 80’s arcade games.
Paper Towns is the follow-up to young adult novelist John Green’s tear-releasing machine in film / book form, Fault in Our Stars. Cara Delevingne is a high school Manic Pixie Dream Girl™ Cara who shows high school Brooding Soulful Depressed Guy™ Quentin (Nat Wolff) how to feel infinite or whatever young adult novels are great at making teenagers feel like. Cara disappears, only to leave behind a series of clues Quentin decides to follow in order to find her because she made him feel alive or infinite only because he’s projecting this idealized self of Cara onto her because that’s what heterosexual Brooding Soulful Depressed Guys™ do when they find some girl whose only job is to make them loosen up.
Much like the yearly battle cry that boxing isn’t dead (in the face of corruption, declining interest, and the garbage fire sport of Mixed Martial Arts), Southpaw is attempting to resurrect the boxing movie genre. Jake Gyllenhaal is boxer Billy Hope, who is at top of the charts when it comes to beating up people of color in sanctioned blood sport, but after his wife (Rachel McAdams) is gunned down in a freak accident, Hope goes on a downward spiral of losing his fortunes and daughter. Hope teams up with inner-city boxing coach Tick Wills (Forest Whitaker) to channel white man angst tempered with the need to see his daughter (what’s up, Ant-Man?) again to make it to the top.
Southpaw is directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) and written by Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter, which probably means this movie will outlast its welcome and will be comprised of nothing but ten minute musical montages featuring songs sung by Katey Sagal (kidding; love you, Katey; you’re delightful). Sutter said the movie was inspired by the life of Eminem and 50 Cent is also in it, so draw your own riches to rags to riches conclusions.
Alternatively, just watch the Creed trailer (directed by Fruitvale Station director and Oakland native Ryan Coogler!) over and over again.
The Vatican Tapes
Speaking of dead genres, The Vatican Tapes is a limp exorcism tale about the devil and God’s homies doing battle over the soul of a pretty white girl (Olivia Dudley). Michael Peña stars along with Djimon Hounsou.