REVIEW – “Tetris”

When you hear the title for Tetris, you’d probably assume that it’s Hollywood attempting to make a big-screen adaptation of the popular video game. Instead, the film tells the surprisingly crazy story behind the creation of Tetris, as well as the high-stakes legal battle to secure the rights to the game. And you know what? As amusing as it would be to see Hollywood try to spin Tetris off into some sort of action/adventure film – I guarantee nothing like that would be nearly as exciting and fascinating as the true story being told here; a riveting, well-acted, and quite simply fun delve into the history of one of the most popular games the world has ever seen. 

Tetris follows Henk Rogers (Taron Egerton), who is the game publisher of Tetris – and from the moment the film begins, Egerton really affirms himself into the role. Egerton is pretty well known for his performance as the main character Eggsy in the Kingsman films and turned in a really great performance in last year’s Black Bird (also on Apple TV) – but his performance here is just really impressive due to how seamlessly charming and easy to root for he is. Henk Rogers is a man who makes a lot of questionable deals and questionably puts a ton on the line, but due to Egerton’s performance, you completely back every decision he makes and want to see him make it through unscathed despite all the legal, political and financial threats that face him. 

Obviously we all know that Tetris made it out into the public and became one of the most popular and influential video games of all-time, but if you’ve never read into the true story behind its creation, I promise the story is absolutely fascinating due to all of the different parties and countries involved. One of the most surprising elements is how political the situation gets, despite the core objective simply being launching a video game to the public and securing the rights for it. A lot of this is in credit to Noah Pink’s great screenplay and how effortlessly he takes this already fascinating story and milks it for pure entertainment. 

The first act of Tetris is absolutely dynamite – a completely fast-paced and unique story told with a lot of style and personality. Once the film enters its second act and Henk reaches Russia, it does begin to show a bit of mileage in its pacing, as it gets a little too bogged down within the business talk and politics of it all. There are certainly a lot of intriguing elements here, such as how Russia looked at Tetris as something more than a video game but more of something that represented how Russia can’t and shouldn’t be bought out by foreign agents. It’s just in comparison to the first act of the film, this side is slightly less entertaining and loses a bit of the edge that made it so unique as it was beginning. 

Thankfully, Egerton’s performance and the screenplay from Noah Pink are what really keep Tetris going from start to finish; even when it slows down, it never fully stops being engaging and feels well-worth watching by the time it’s over and you have a full scope of the craziness of the story. There are certainly times where I wished the film balanced the tones of light-hearted and fun with political intensity and drama a little more delicately, but by the end of the film, it’s hard to not appreciate what director Jon S. Baird and writer Noah Pink are going for here. In an age of filmmaking when so many true stories feel like they are simply adapting the Wikipedia summary of a historical event/figure – it’s hard to not immediately appreciate a film like Tetris for being unique to itself and daring to have a personality all its own.


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