Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"It's hard to find a single detail gone awry."

The film that inspired the blockbuster flop which might have ended Adam Sandler's career, 2010 short Pixels has recently come to public attention due to an overzealous anti-piracy operation which, confusing it with the latter, attempted to remove all traces of it from the internet. it's a poor reward for its director who has, to be fair, received a heftier sum from Columbia than many other people involved with its project are likely to be taking home, and it's also a shame for film fans who should still make the effort to hunt this down if they can because it's a great piece of work.

Proof that a simple concept, nicely executed, can offer much bigger returns on investment than a multi million dollar overbaked studio mélange, it admittedly owes a lot to the games that came before it, and it coasts along on the affection viewers have for them. Like the best fantasy cinema, it makes no half-hearted attempt to justify its premise, instead plunging us straight into the action as the likes of Pacman, Space Invaders and Donkey Kong attack New York City. As Jean's camera soars around the skyscrapers, cars are swallowed on the streets beneath, beeping bullets crash into ostentatious spires and whole subway stations disappear, leaving only a few loose building blocks behind.

It's the tetris blocks that are most sinister, dropping down, forming rows, inexorably levelling the city's proudest buildings to the sound of familiar happy little tunes. A water fountain sprays 8-bit droplets into the air; where they land, the ground starts to give. This is a full on Eric Drexler grey good scenario, a nightmare of the information age which sees everything reduced to neat units of information. Move over, Terminator. When the machines come for us, they will be cute.

For all its simplicity, this is clearly a film that took weeks of focused effort to create, and it's hard to find a single detail gone awry. The transitions from photographed building to crumbling animated pixels are perfectly managed to create a viewing experience so seamless that the skill involved is destined to be invisible to most. All the more impressive because it was only Jean's second film, it heralds a talent well worth keeping an eye on.

Reviewed on: 09 Aug 2015
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8-bit creatures invade New York City.

Director: Patrick Jean

Writer: Patrick Jean

Year: 2010

Runtime: 2 minutes

Country: France


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