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Tetris ★★★★



Director: Jon S. Baird

Cast: Taron Egerton, Toby Jones, Roger Allam, Nikita Yefremov, Anthony Boyle, Ben Miles

Release: 31st March 2023 (Apple TV+)

Few games are as universally recognisable as Tetris, an arcade favourite of the 80s. Iconic doesn’t do it justice. Perhaps less well-known is the story behind bringing the game to the West and across the globe. The story of the battle to secure the IP rights to Tetris is now brought to life by Stan & Ollie Director Jon S. Baird on Apple TV + led by Taron Egerton as Hank Rogers, the Dutch Video Game Designer who held the Japanese rights to the game and managed to help the game achieve its immense popularity with Nintendo.

The story might seem too good to be accurate, but it is a fun spin on what could be a dry story. It helps that the actual life events were so wild that there is natural room to make an entertaining film, and playing it as a Cold War Thriller is perfect, making Tetris a fun throwback with knowing references to the original Tetris game and other beloved 80s games and pop culture moments including the original Gameboy.

Due to the game being developed in the Soviet Union, there is a sense of confusion over how the rights were distributed, with Toby Jones’ Robert Stein dealing with The Maxwells and Microsoft and Nintendo and Rogers coping with a different aspect of the rights. Instead of getting bogged down in Legal jargon, we second-guess how it will play out. The performances of all involved elevate this to a must-watch; Egerton, in his first leading film role since Rocketman, shows his natural charisma and puppy-like energy while Jones is as dependable as ever, and Endeavour and The Thick of It are Roger Allam is a perfect casting as infamous tycoon Robert Maxwell. Everyone is having a blast, and it shines across in the performances and fun touches peppered throughout.

Lorne Balfe’s score is a wonderfully creative addition, driven by Synths and recalling the films and games of the era. Some fun needle drops include Europe’s Final Countdown and Pet Shop Boys Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money).

Jon S. Baird shows his versatility as a director following his Irvine Welsh adaptation Filth and Stan & Ollie. This is a sharply directed film with plenty of fun video game nods and twists and turns, helping to dive deeper into the story behind such a beloved gaming property.

Tetris is a fascinating, constantly fun film that makes the most of its subject matter to position it as a Cold War Thriller with plenty of enjoyable visuals. It’s full of suspense, and the performances help give it an edge. If not in the same wheelhouse as Steve Jobs or The Social Network, Tetris offers something that fans of the game will enjoy and helps inform audiences of the stranger fiction story behind it that many will be oblivious to. This is one for fans of 80s pop culture and, of course, Tetris itself, and it stands on its own as a creative piece of work.

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