- Taron Egerton, toby Jones, Soya Lebedeva
- Jon S. Baird
- Biography, Thriller
- Release date
- March 31, 2023
- Where to watch
- Apple TV
At the time of writing this, Apple TV was offering a free 7-day trial and there are much worse reasons to take them up on that offer than to watch Tetris.
It’s not just a movie about a video game. It’s a movie about a video game that consists entirely of rotating blocks that the player moves left and right, so how good can it be? The answer is really good. In fact, Tetris might be the best movie that I’ve seen in years.
On its surface, Tetris is a movie about Nintendo securing the worldwide game rights for Tetris from its Russian developer, the State-owned ELORG software company. As boring as that sounds, you have to remember that 1984 Russia was still a communist paradise, that is to say, a tyrannical surveillance state ruled by fear and poverty (you know…like the American Left likes it), and it is Communist Russia that is the movie’s standout star.
Much like The Lives of Others, Tetris perfectly captures the panic-inducing claustrophobia of a police state, and it’s made that much more visceral by its point of view character. Played by Taron Egerton, who is most well known for his role as Eggsy in The Kingsman, Henk Rogers is a struggling video game developer who literally bets his house and puts his life and freedom on the line in order to secure the game’s rights.
Rogers’ bullish determination to do right by his wife and children in the pursuit of financial success should resonate in the hearts of every red-blooded American man who’s still left in the U.S. It is Roger’s outsider naïveté and optimism along with his entrepreneurial drive in perfect contrast with the drab and weighty oppressiveness of 80s Russia that makes the movie pop, and Egerton’s charisma has you rooting for him from the first moment that his mustache enters view.
Mirrored by Rogers’ drive to succeed is Tetris’s creator, Alexey Pajitnov, played by Nikita Efremov. Alexey is a government drone (i.e. communist citizen) who works full-time as a computer programmer for the State. Unlike Rogers, Alexey’s life goal is merely to survive while keeping his wife and two sons fed and sheltered, and himself out of the Gulag. Exuding a lifetime of deference and subjugation like heat waves off of August asphalt, Efremov’s performance is pitch-perfect.
It’s not a perfect movie, but even its mildly clunky opening exposition dump is made charming by a combination of Egerton’s commitment to the role and a lot of fun music and graphics. Also, mostly used to good effect, there are a number of times that 2D 8-bit videogame-like cut screens are used as transitions or to aid in exposition. However, there is one unfortunate moment during the movie’s climax in which a cut screen is inserted and nearly completely kills the film’s momentum. Fortunately, it last for only a split second and the movie is able to get back onto its feet.
`Ultimately, Tetris does a first-rate job of building and holding tension, but most importantly (and this is why it is one of the best movies that I’ve seen in a couple of years) its pay-off is cathartic, which used to be why we went to the movies in the first place. I can’t recommend it highly enough and have happily placed it within our Worth it section.
- Set in a time and place when woke BS would have earned you a smack (if you were lucky) there was an attempt to boost the visibility and importance of one or two female characters that felt somewhat artificial. However, it’s so minor that I think that only nitpickers like myself will notice.
- Young people who think that AOC has more than a couple of brain cells to rub together should be made to watch this as a cautionary tale of the spirit-killing qualites of communism.
James Carrick is a passionate film enthusiast with a degree in theater and philosophy. James approaches dramatic criticism from a philosophic foundation grounded in aesthetics and ethics, offering insight and analysis that reveals layers of cinematic narrative with a touch of irreverence and a dash of snark.