Tetris – Film Review

There is one game that almost everyone will know and has played at least one. Tetris. But do you know the origins of the game?

I for one only knew that it was released with the original Nintendo Game Boy way back in 1989. Simply titled Tetris, the film explores the origins of the Tetris game and the fight to secure the rights to publish the game in a dramatised biographical film.

I did not know what to expect when walking into the special Apple TV+ screening at Melbourne’s ACMI, but I am extremely glad that I got the chance to see this film that has easily become my favourite of the year so far.

Starring Taron Egerton as Henk Rogers, a video game designer and founder of Bullet-Proof Software. The film opens with Rogers at the Consumer Electronics Show. Rogers is trying to gather interest in his new game, ‘Go’, only to find his own assistant at another booth playing someone else’s game, Tetris. Rogers gave into his own curiosity and after playing for only five minutes he was hooked. He then sets out on a mission to own the publishing rights to the game.

Publishing Rights for games are not as simple as one might think. You don’t simply buy the rights to a games title; one must also buy the rights to the platform that the game is to be played on. This is where the excitement of Tetris begins. And with the game’s origins stemming from the former Soviet Union, Rogers is not only fighting for the publishing rights across as many devices as he can obtain, but also fighting against Communist Russia.

Written by Noah Park and directed by Jon S. Baird, Tetris is one of those films that I have not stopped thinking about since I saw it. It helps that it is based on true events as I am always a sucker for biopics.

The music for this film is not only from the incredible 80s era of music, but the iconic Tetris Theme is also ever present and is played in different cultural styles and languages, but still easily identifiable. There are also visual nods to the game itself with the film split into ‘levels’ with 8-bit style graphics used as transitions when the film visits different destinations. These points only scratch the surface of this incredible film.

The cast of Tetris are all fantastic in their roles. Nikita Efremov is impressive as Alexey Pajitnov, the original creator of Tetris. Efremov’s body language and constant look of fear and cautiousness helped portray what it would have been like living as a citizen during this time of Soviet Russia. Anthony Boyle as Kevin Maxwell is a perfectly arrogant son of a billionaire media mogul that I just wanted to jump through the screen and punch in the face. Igor Grabuzov as Valentin Trifonov, the Communist Party’s representative for Foreign Trade is fearful in his role. Oleg Shtefanko portrayal of Nikolai Belikov is equally as impressive as the others, and I loved how his character evolved throughout the film.

However, the clear stand out is Taron Egerton in the lead role of Henk Rogers. At this point, I am convinced that Egerton can play any role he is given and knock it out of the park. Rogers is driven and is willing to risk everything to secure a future for his family and publishing company. Egerton’s portrayal of this character is flawless. I felt his characters passion deep in my soul and the determination in his facial expressions had me cheering for Rogers the entire time.

Tetris is more than just a film about the origins of an iconic game. It is what I can best describe as an exhilarating spy thriller. It actually reminded me a lot of another of one of my favourite films, Argo. If you have seen Argo, then you can sort of gauge what to expect from this film. I was in deep concentration the entire time and hanging on the edge of my seat. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. I even found myself playing Tetris on my phone just so I could feel a connection to the film again.

It is easy to say that Tetris is one of those films that will sit with you long after you have finished watching it. Thankfully, being that the film is available on Apple TV+, I can watch this as many times as I want from the comfort of my own home. I am thankful that I got to see it on the big screen, and I hope that Apple TV+ and other streaming platforms start doing limited cinema releases of their films. Because films like Tetris deserve a cinematic experience.

Tetris is available now via Apple TV+ to stream for account holders, or to buy via the Apple TV digital store.

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