Apple’s ‘Tetris’ film trades real-life drama for spy fantasies

“The essential position of Tetris of that point was that it began to interrupt down the barrier between folks and computer systems,” Pajitnov instructed me in an interview. Early on, he mentioned folks had been embarrassed to confess they had been hooked on Tetris, and others had been fast to say they don’t play video games, “simply Tetris.” Now gaming, particularly these of the informal cellular selection, can attain nearly anybody.

On the very least, Tetris the movie understands the facility of video games. However it might be stronger if it embraced the fact of the story, quite than attempt to place itself as an affordable spy film. British billionaires Robert and Kevin Maxwell are extra James Bond villains than precise people (admittedly, that is probably not removed from the reality), as they wrangle with Soviet leaders and Rogers over distribution rights to the sport. Soviet intelligence officers, who repeatedly threaten Rogers and Pajitnov, are much more cartoonish. By the point we reached an compulsory automobile chase that, for some cause, additionally turns into pixelated graphics, I used to be virtually fully checked out.

Nikita Efremov in Tetris, experimenting with physical blocks.


It’s doubly disappointing for the reason that film didn’t must do a lot of this. The actual-world licensing dilemma, which kicked off after the British software program vendor Robert Stein bought rights to the sport earlier than the Soviet Union’s approval, might be compelling sufficient. Previous to Rogers’ discovery of the sport, Stein had bought rights to the Maxwell’s Mirrorsoft for European distribution, and to Spectrum Holobyte within the US. Rogers’ snagged Spectrum’s rights, however rapidly realized that Steins’ contracts had been probably illegitimate. To the film’s credit score, it additionally covers this licensing drama, however it’s virtually all the time overshadowed by the extra fantastical components added by the filmmakers.

Whereas the items don’t fully match into place (sorry), if Tetris pushes extra folks to discover the precise historical past of the sport by way of different media, just like the BBC’s documentary Tetris: From Russia with Love, Dan Ackerman’s The Tetris Impact and the graphic novel The Video games Individuals Play, it could have been price it. Nonetheless, its existence additionally means we gained’t get to see some other diversifications, like a Halt and Catch Fire-esque restricted sequence, anytime quickly.