The “real” story behind the addictive puzzle game is an engaging tale of underdogs and corporate intrigue that might prove surprisingly fun and complicated for such a simplistic and straightforward game. We zoom back to the late 1980s and two converging storylines: the rise of handheld gaming and the decline of the Soviet Union. Taron Egerton (Rocketman) plays Herk Rogers, an American businessman living in Tokyo with his wife and family who has put all his hopes on the Japanese license rights of a small little game made in Russia. What follows is one man trying to finagle a system of questionable IP rights between scheming businessmen and Soviet KGB agents. The numerous players fighting for dominance over the course of legal copy, meeting rooms, and offers and counter offers was, for me, the most entertaining part of the movie, and the version that felt the most tethered to reality. There are some Hollywood exaggerations in this retelling, especially in the final act where the movie takes a cue from Argo and has its heroes in a careening car chase to get to the Moscow airport and eave the country (externalizing the internal feelings, much like Argo). Since we all know that the game ultimately ends up as one of the best-selling and most iconic, and packaged with the launch of Nintendo’s GameBoy, the appeal of the behind-the-scenes story is the struggle that our heroes overcome, and Tetris succeeds through its accessible but ever-moving plot mosaic that feels like legal knots trying to come undone. I think the movie gets even better when Herk becomes friends with Alexey, the state worker who created the game in his spare time and is hassled by KGB agents for the game harming national productivity. There are a few too many cutesy touches the movie could do without, like the inclusion of 8-bit sprites as visual transitions, something that is layered over the climactic car chase making it look much duller. I also feel like the honeypot twist feels a little too overinflated Hollywood drama for its own sake. There’s already plenty of drama here that didn’t need the help. Regardless, Tetris is a solid drama that stacks up.
Nate’s Grade: B
Posted on March 31, 2023, in 2023 Movies and tagged drama, period film, taron egerton, toby jones, video games. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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