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Pixels by Henry Jackman (Review)

posted Jul 23, 2015, 4:41 PM by Kaya Savas

There’s no denying that Henry Jackman is one of the smartest and most talented composers working today. His ability to craft an electronic action masterwork and then do something magical with the orchestra makes him so versatile. The one thing Pixels has going for it would be that orchestral sensibility that Henry can whip out with ease. Other than that, Pixels just seems like bits and pieces of what Jackman has done so much better in previous scores.

The fully orchestral score presents a dilemma. It has some wonderfully lush moments, but unfortunately Jackman never gets the opportunity to develop anything except for the finale action set piece with Donkey Kong. In your head you might go, well it would have made sense to go electronic given the subject matter of 80’s low resolution video games sent by aliens. Or you might think that would have been the easy and expected route. All I know is that the last track “Arcaders ’82” is awesome, and I think that would have made an awesome approach for the whole score. But what does it matter? Adam Sandler’s go-to writers adapted a 3-minute short film into a giant mess of a movie. Clearly they temped it with Big Hero 6 and Wreck-It Ralph and just phoned Henry up because of his good relationship doing Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg movies for Sony. I’m sure old fashioned fantasy man Chris Columbus wanted something orchestral and airy too. Anyways, the end result is a nice sounding score that feels more like a generic orchestral demo reel for Henry instead of a fully engaging original score.

The Pixels score album only runs a mere 39-minutes, and most of the tracks are short little interjections. While Henry is running on all his orchestral cylinders for a fun little score, it’s mostly a less than engaging example of things he did much better in Big Hero 6 and Wreck-It Ralph. I feel like if the film was much better and allowed for him to actually write a more engaging score, then we would have something more substantial. The music adds a nice energy and a flourish to the adventure, but there’s no real emotion or character behind it.