Tetris: FILM Review

Distributed by: Apple
Directed by: Jon S. Baird
Starring: Taron Egerton, Nikita Efremov, Sofia Lebedeva, Anthony Boyle, Toby Jones

When I first heard that a Tetris movie was being made, dread filled me instantly. Fears of it being made it to a cheap CGI feature like The Emoji Movie with the T block being cast by James Corden or some shit. Thankfully, cooler heads have prevailed….somewhat as the movie is actually about the story behind Tetris and its distribution beyond the Iron Curtain of the Soviet Union into the hands of millions on the Game Boy.

Anyone who has watched the numerous documentaries from the likes of the Gaming Historian to the BBC would know the numerous parties at play when it came to this title and getting the rights to release it. There was Robert Stein from Andromeda Software who initially discovered the game, Robert and his son Kevin Maxwell from Mirrorsoft who had direct connections to the Kremlin and of course Henk Rogers the owner of Bullet Proof Software.

Apple TV+’s approach to the story of Tetris tries to balance as much accuracy as they can with Hollywood flair, while much of the negotiations and such are real, no one would watch a 90 minute movie about all that no matter how many 8 bit animations you spliced into it. So we get thrown in some cutthroat KGB officials, scheming double agents and cameos of higher ups like Gorbachev and Hiroshi Yamauchi with Togo Igawa looking almost a deadringer for the late Nintendo president.

While Henk and his burgeoning relationship with the creator of Tetris, Alexey Pajitnov is the main focus of the movie we get splices of the doings of the Maxwell’s who almost come off as a duo of bumbling idiots. Robert Maxwell is desperately trying to cover up the embezzlement that will ultimately topple him (over the side of a boat) while constantly bringing up his friendship with the USSR’s President. While Kevin is desperate to prove to everyone that he is not just a snot nosed little punk, at least they got off better than Robert Stein who just comes off as uninspiring and was left in the background barring a few moments.

Honestly, my favorite character in the movie has to be Howard Lincoln, the former VP of Nintendo. It’s hilarious to see the man who led NOA’s censorship policies dropping F-bombs throughout the movie. Not to mention being part of the almost spy thriller like car chase in the final part of the movie in a mad dash to the airport with the exclusive rights in hand. This is just one of the examples of Hollywood flair that make things seem more intense, with the abyss part of Henk’s hero journey made way more dire than it was in reality.

When it comes to Video Game Movies of 2023 though, everyone’s attention will be on Mario which is slightly ironic when you think about it. Tetris though will be seen as the more mature and serious of the two, even though it doesn’t take itself too seriously.