Home Movies Reviews ‘Tetris’ Apple TV+ Movie Review - Offers Scant and Ephemeral Pleasures

‘Tetris’ Apple TV+ Movie Review - Offers Scant and Ephemeral Pleasures

The movie follows Henk Rogers and tells the story of how one of the world’s most popular video games found its way to avid players around the globe

Vikas Yadav - Thu, 30 Mar 2023 21:07:12 +0100 1734 Views
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Jon S. Baird's Tetris is constructed like a video game. It introduces key characters as "players." For instance, Henk Rogers (Taron Egerton) is Player 1, Alexey Leonidovich Pajitnov (Nikita Efremov) is Player 2, Robert Stein (Toby Jones) is Player 3, Robert Maxwell (Roger Allam) is Player 4, and his son Kevin Maxwell (Anthony Boyle) is Player 5. So does that mean Baird treats everyone like pixelated creatures and simply plays with them for his own pleasure? It's true that some characters don't have much shade to them, and they look either too good or too bad. Consider Alexey, the man who invented Tetris. Here is someone who designs a viral product and displays no trace of greediness after finding out that his creation is worth millions or billions of dollars. Wouldn't it have been nice to see him with some streaks of gray? Or take Valentin Trifonov (Igor Grabuzov). He is your usual corrupt, unidimensional bad guy whose black wardrobe only accentuates that this man is evil. Grabuzov is in good form, but his expressions remain within a restricted spectrum, and thus, he becomes tiring to see after a while.

Perhaps, to balance out this criticism, the movie allows Henk to reveal his different shades to us. You get Henk, the family man who loves his wife and children and promises one of his daughters he will definitely attend her concert. There is Henk, the dreamer, who notices great potential in Tetris and takes risks in Russia. We also have Henk, the good friend who forms a friendship with Alexey (they practically become brothers, completing each other's sentence when talking about video game programming). Finally, we have Henk, the selfish prick who becomes so obsessed with his work he forgets about his daughter's concert. Naturally, Henk is the only interesting character in the film, and Egerton makes a meal out of his part. Observe the mesmerized look in his eyes when he plays Tetris (or sees Game Boy) for the first time. He goes into a trance, which is why he is able to sell that passionate speech to Eddie (Rick Yune) in the office.

The only other watchable character besides Henk is Nikolai Belikov (Oleg Stefan), as we get to see him stuck between wanting to do the right thing and being forced to take the wrong step. It's underwhelming that the movie decides to do less for its characters and more for its pace and plot. Henk's mission of acquiring worldwide rights to Tetris from the Soviet Union proved dangerous and complicated. The movie could have elevated the stakes and the tension if it had made its characters flesh and blood individuals. But they are merely used to raise excitement. Watching Tetris is like playing a video game to pass your time for a few hours. And it's not just because the establishing shots are all animated, but because you are thrilled as long as the movie runs. When the end credits roll, you find that nothing much has stuck with you except for the feeling that you were not bored.

When Henk refuses to leave Moscow, his family is threatened back home. You can call it an empty threat because all it does is tell us that Henk is involved in a serious business. The weight of this warning is never felt. Henk's wife, Akemi (Ayane Nagabuchi), calls him selfish when he misses his daughter's concert, but this familial trouble is neatly (and superficially) wrapped up during the end. As far as Sasha (Sofya Lebedeva) is concerned, she exists for a twist that appears unnecessary instead of shocking. When Henk tries to hug Alexey at the airport, the latter says, "No, it's no time for American emotion." Baird, too, mostly stays away from emotions and focuses more on exciting the audience.

The movie wants to be a high-stakes thriller, and it works as a thrill dispenser. The meetings and the car chases are all imbued with verve. The enthusiasm with which Henk talks about video games or the joy with which he and Alexey improve Tetris is infectious. The computer geek in me loved looking at the codes and listening to the sound of keyboards. These pleasures are scant and ephemeral because Tetris has low ambitions. But within its boundary (one with a narrow vision), it hits all the right notes.

Final Score- [7/10]
Reviewed by - Vikas Yadav
Follow @vikasonorous on Twitter
Publisher at Midgard Times



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