Tetris: Sounds fake but a (sort of) true story

When I first heard we were getting a Tetris movie, I was immediately concerned and very apprehensive – picturing something like the 2015 film Pixels, or some sort of gritty video game adaption where puzzle pieces are actually aliens or something bizarre – but once I heard more, that it was a re-telling of the true story of the creation of Tetris, I was fully on board. I was pulled even further on board when I learned that our leading man for Tetris was Taron Egerton who was playing underdog Henk Rogers. Henk is a video game designer and the founder of Bullet-Proof Software who has an entrepreneurial spirit that had me rooting for him the entire time.

While the idea of a film about the history of the classic video game Tetris might initially sound like a far-fetched Hollywood fabrication, the truth is that the story behind the game is extremely fascinating. Tetris brings this incredible story to life, offering audiences a chance to learn about the origins of one of the most iconic games in history. I found myself as excited about Tetris as Henk Rogers was the first time he had his hands on the classic video game at the Consumer Electronics Show in 1987 – it had me digging out my grey brick of a Gameboy and playing a few games of Tetris a few days later.

One of the most striking aspects of Tetris is the cast’s resemblance to their real-life counterparts. This attention to detail adds an extra layer of authenticity to the film, allowing viewers to feel even more connected to the story. It is worth noting that while most of the story depicted in Tetris is true, certain elements have been intensified for dramatic effect. This creative license, however, does not take anything from the film’s overall impact and educational value. The added tension from the inclusion of KGB agents in the plot helps to create a gripping narrative that kept me engaged the entire film.

A particularly charming feature of the film is the pixel art visual cards scattered throughout that sort of break the film into chapters. These cards serve as a love note to the roots of gaming in general, reminding viewers of the humble beginnings of an industry that has since grown into a multi-billion-dollar powerhouse from 8 bit visuals to the 3D graphics we’re used to today.

Tetris not only tells the intriguing story of the game’s development and the challenges faced by its creators, but it also provides a broader commentary on the significance of gaming in popular culture. The film successfully blends drama, history, and nostalgia to create an engaging and informative cinematic experience that is sure to delight both gaming enthusiasts and casual viewers alike. I think it also does a great way of showing audiences that publishing a game is not as straight forward as someone sending their game to a console company like Nintendo and it appearing on the shelves. Publishers are one of the less understood aspects of the game industry by the general public or casual gamers, so to see the potentially complicated bureaucracy behind publishing games shown to the wider world is pretty cool. It’s a huge labour of love to get a game shipped and into your console – and Taron Egerton does a fantastic job showcasing that passion.

The rest of the cast are also fantastic – but a standout is Nikita Efremov as Alexey Pajitnov who was the original creator of the game does a fantastic job portraying Alexey’s growing warmth towards Henk and to see his resolution in the film has great emotional payoff. Roger Allam plays Robert Maxwell who is almost a walking caricature of a capitalist, accompanied by his son Kevin Maxwell portrayed as Anthony Boyle who feels he is suitably entitled to things going his way. Oleg Shtefanko portrays Nikolai Belikov, the director of Elorg handling negotiations for the publishing Tetris played the role well, feeling at first like an imposing figure but you could see him develop overtime to someone more sympathetic despite the cold soviet exterior.

As Tetris was more then just a film inside a videogame, but rather a film about the love of videogames I’m hoping that with its success that more video game films that come out will follow suit and tell a story about the history of gaming in general. The industry is a fascinating place with a lot more drama than you’d expect behind some of your favourite titles. 

In conclusion, Tetris is a must-see film for anyone interested in learning more about the history of one of the most iconic video games of all time. With its impressive cast, attention to detail, and heartfelt tribute to the gaming industry, Tetris is a captivating and enjoyable journey through a fascinating chapter in the history of gaming. You can watch it on Apple TV!

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