TETRIS: FULL REVIEW
Little did I know the absolute chaos that came from the creation of the game of Tetris. With tensions rising over the video game in a falling Soviet Union, director Jon S. Baird takes us on a Big Short-esque styled ride throughout the dramatic acquisition of the game. It's a high energy, maybe too self serious story that balances the line of drama and political thriller without every falling too far into either category.
Henk Rogers discovers Tetris in 1988, and then risks everything by travelling to the Soviet Union, where he joins forces with inventor Alexey Pajitnov to bring the game to the masses.
The story is written well enough to intertwine the struggle to acquire the popular game with the geopolitical climate of a collapsing USSR. We get some glimpses of Henks life becoming an absolute uphill battle as he struggles with the pure goal of acquiring the rights for Nintendo from the game creator Alexey- while in the background, Soviet politicians and agents work in the shadows trying to get their own payouts and successes from the Tetris cash cow. It never felt as if the two themes of drama and political thriller ever interfered from the other one, and the combination of both- made for a satisfying edge of your seat type of story.
With each transition to a new scene, were introduced to a new transition screen made out of the 8-hit animation style. We get a video game esque view of Moscow, Tokyo, and others in these little bits- they're mostly fun, tho occasionally in the later stage of the film feel like they're taking away from the emotional gravity of what's happening. There's a particular moment that comes to mind, where Henk and his wife are having an emotionally heavy fight over all of the familial sacrifices he was making in the name of work- that could've been effective, had it not been for the cute 8-bit transition sequence right before the couples argument.
The mash up of the drab and dreary USSR with the brief influx of life from a high pace energetic Henk Rogers is really echoed by the soundtrack opted for the film. We get these absolutely fun sequences to pick up energy whenever the film catches itself sliding, as it blasts anthems like Bonnie Tyler's 'Holding Out For a Hero' in the most memorable of ways. It really felt at times like a geopolitical thriller that just drank four energy drinks to keep its energy high throughout its run time.
Tetris, was a sound film- it's a bit too repetitive at points, which makes the runtime feel a little bit long in the tooth. You can only have Henk interrogated by the people that work with Alexey, and then interviewed and intimidated by the Soviet agents a few times before it becomes a bit overplayed and nothing new. Yet, I still had a really good time with it- partly because of the energetic Big Short historical film feel, and mostly because of some of the performances that we get in it. Taron Egerton is perfectly casted for the role of the well meaning heart on his sleeve Henk Rogers, while Russian actors Nikita Efremov and Sofia Lebedeva each make their Western film debuts with very strong showings. It's a pleasant enough film that tells a bit of history that I'm sure most of us had zero idea about.