Tetris takes a winning approach to a video game adaptation
Apple TV brings the backstory of an iconic video game to homes in the biopic Tetris. Tetris tells the incredible story of how avid players around the globe played one of the world's most popular video games. It also describes how it became so popular. Jon S. Baird directs the film from a script by Noah Pink.
During the late 1980s, Henk Rogers (Taron Egerton) discovers the game TETRIS. He decides to risk everything to bring the game to the masses by traveling to the Soviet Union, where he joins forces with inventor Alexey Pazhitnov (Nikita Efremov). A fictionalized account of a true story from the Cold War era, "Tetris" is a chilling and tense thriller about a double-crossing villain, an unlikely hero, and a nail-biting fight for victory.
Video game film adaptations don't have the most successful history with film fans. While I enjoyed the recent reimaginings of Mortal Kombat and Sonic The Hedgehog, I still remember the stinkers Blood Rayne, House of the Dead, Street Fighter, and Alone In The Dark.
Thankfully the creatives behind Tertis understand the complexities that may arise from turning a movie about blocks into a narrative. Don't get me wrong; there are plenty of video game quirks in the film that I won't spoil. However, the filmmakers' approach is one that even non-players will appreciate.
The simplicity of Tetris and the time we spend on different devices make it hard to understand. One of the people responsible for losing so many hours in the video game, Henk Rogers (Taron Egerton), explains: "It's not just addictive, it's magical." A group of men risked their lives during the Cold War to acquire the 8-bit puzzle because of that inexplicable magic.
Knowing how, where, and who created the little game is fascinating for those who played it but never thought about it: a Soviet official, imaginative and bored, became overnight the most desired man for media empires, such as Maxwells and Nintendo, which caused the KGB not to take their eyes off him. Political, social, and economic elements intersect in this story, which tries to emulate Fincher's The Social Network without obscuring what it is about.
While the film does have a retro and somewhat tacky 8-bit curtain look, its unstoppable rhythm makes it entertaining. Nothing magical or addictive about it, but it'll make you want to play again (not surprisingly).
Final Grade: B
Tetris is available to stream tomorrow on Apple TV