The Stream: The thriller aspects seem shoehorned in to make the story more interesting.
The Big Screen: Animation and music are used to good effect.
The Final Bill: An interesting story about a beloved game is amped up by false thrills.– Trip Fontaine
Director: Jon S. Baird
Writers: Noah Pink
Stars: Taron Egerton, Nikita Efremov, Toby Jones
Genre: Drama, Biography, History, Thriller
Rating: R for language
Runtime: 1 hour 55 minutes
Production Companies: AI-Film, Marv Films, Apple TV+, Unigram
Platform: Apple TV+ on March 31, 2023
What’s up, Streamers! Now that you’ve seen that other Nintendo movie, it’s time to see what this live-action Tetris film is all about. I had a lot of questions about this movie. For instance, who is providing the voice of the L-shaped block? What kind of CGI will mimic the feeling of falling? I was not sure about the story, but that’s really secondary when it comes to these video game movies. To my surprise, Tetris stars Taron Egerton as Henk Rogers, an enterprising man in the 1980s who seeks to license and distribute Tetris to the world. I don’t know why I was expecting anthropomorphized Tetris blocks with humanoid attributes – silly me. Here’s how the movie goes.
Tetris, directed by Jon S. Baird, tells the story of the competition to secure the rights to Tetris in international markets. Baird depicts the story as an espionage, thriller of sorts. Henk Rogers (Egerton) discovers Tetris at a Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and begins to chase the rights to license and distribute the game in worldwide markets. When the business dealings with various stakeholders get complicated, Henk travels to the Soviet Union to meet the game creator, Alexey, and cut the middleman out. Henk finds that conducting such business in the Soviet Union isn’t as easy as it sounds and may, in fact, be very dangerous. Block-falling hijinks ensue.
Tetris has some memorable moments. As I stated before, Baird depicts this story as an espionage thriller. He is able to raise the stakes of these business dealings by showing the apparent danger Henk and the Tetris creator, Alexey Pajitnov (Nikita Yefremov), are in. There are thrilling and tense aspects to the story. There is a car chase that gets animated. There are shady characters. These devices make the story exciting. Egerton plays Henk as a determined man who will do whatever it takes to make the deal happen. He really seems like a convincing salesman with a twinge of desperation. Both Henk and Alexey are easy to root for. Also, Baird sprinkles in some cute animation reminiscent of the actual game, which are fun additions.
The biggest problem with the movie is that it feels unnecessary and unrealistic. You can tell that there are a lot of liberties taken with the story. In order to infuse the story with some excitement, the filmmakers injected these thriller aspects. Yes, the thriller aspects are entertaining, but they don’t have anything to do with the actual story. It’s not a documentary, so I guess that doesn’t really matter. Why tell this story if you are not going to go closer to the truth? Whatever.
Ultimately, Tetris is a fun movie that tells an interesting story. There are entertaining aspects that use action, animation and music that harken back to the original game. Egerton and Yefremov give good performances that appropriately depict the stakes of all these cross-deals that are made involving Tetris. Grab a bowl when catching this one on Apple TV+.