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Stars: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Josh Gad, Peter Dinklage, Brian Cox, Jane Krakowski, Sean Bean, Dan Aykroyd, Lainie Kazan

Director: Chris Columbus

Bewilderingly certified 12A but suitable for children of all ages, this special effects action comedy, falling somewhere between Mars Attacks! and Ghost Busters, is pretty enjoyable once it gets going.

Things begin none too promisingly, with Sandler, as Sam, a TV/gadget installation man, trying to kiss Violet (Monaghan) when she cries after getting her husband's text that he's leaving her - a scene that in real life would likely result in police action.

Anyhow, it turns out that young Sam (Anthony Ippolito) was an arcade game nerd only narrowly beaten at the world championships by demon dwarf Eddie (Dinklage), though it seems to us that Sam has won.

Now his childhood arcade friend, who just happens to have become a US president in the George W Bush mould (James) calls him in to deal with an invasion by aliens bombarding Earth with lethal versions of such arcade games as Pacman and Donkey Kong, copied from video feeds: the games are eating buildings and people alike. Oh yes, and Monaghan turns out to be top brass at the White House.

With a fellow nerd (Gad) from arcade days and a released-from-jail Dinklage, promised a pardon and a date with Serena Williams if they succeed, they become the Arcaders - Earth's last hope of survival.

'All we have to do,' says Monaghan, 'is get inside the mother ship and stop them.'

Familiar figures from arcade games of the 1980s (no Space Invaders, alas) diving from the skies or charging down Main Street make for fairly engaging and certainly fast-moving (if perhaps slightly lazy) fun. Even Sandler is a lot less objectionable than usual. Serena Williams can't act, but hey, why should she? She must be worth zillions as a tennis star.

David Quinlan

USA 2015. UK Distributor: Sony (Columbia). Colour (unspecified).
105 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 08 Aug 2015