I have to admit that when I heard that there was a film based on the Tetris game in the pipeline my heart sank just a little. After all, I remember the farce that was Super Mario Bros and Street Fighter. I couldn’t begin to imagine what the narrative would be but I did have visions of multi-coloured blocks dropping from the sky and wiping out vast swathes of the landscape. Instead, what we have is a dramatisation of how Tetris came to be seemingly ubiquitous from the late eighties onwards.
And, by onwards, I mean up until the present day; I just had a quick look and there it is in the Apple app store. And, just like in the early days of the Nintendo Gameboy, it is there for free. What isn’t obvious is the half hour I’ve just spent playing Tetris because that game is still pretty damn addictive! The new version has been updated as far as the screen resolution, colour, gameplay, and control interface but the delightfully tinny quality of the Korobeiniki theme tune has been kept.
Ah Yes, I Remember It Well
I knew that the game had been devised by a Russian guy back in the old Soviet Union but I wasn’t aware of all the machiavellian manipulations that went on behind the scenes. I didn’t realise that Robert and Kevin Maxwell were involved; they are the father and brother of Ghislaine Maxwell who has been in the news recently. So what we have is an entertaining dramatised quasi-documentary along the lines of Micro Men which told the story of the rivalry between Clive Sinclair (Alexander Armstrong) and Chris Curry (Martin Freeman).
The story starts in 1988 with Henk Rogers (Taron Egerton) of Bulletproof Software struggling to sell his electronic version of the game Go at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show. While there he stumbles across a game called Tetris which he spots as the winner that it is and seeks to get control of the distribution rights for as much of the world and as many formats as possible. In his way stand Robert Stein (Toby Jones) of Andromeda Software and Robert Maxwell (Roger Allam) and Kevin Maxwell (Anthony Boyle) of Mirrorsoft.
This Is History?
Tetris is one those films which resonate for me with the smallest of cues. Kevin Maxwell mentions to his father that there seems to be a “few million pounds missing from the employees’ retirement fund” and he is told that they had to “rearrange the balance sheets for the year-end” and you know what is lurking just around the corner! This sort of thing is too fresh in my mind to actually be history…
What we also have in the mix for Tetris is the deft hand of Matthew Vaughan. This is the fifth collaboration between him and Taron Egerton after Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014), Eddie the Eagle (2015), Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017), and Rocketman (2019). I have seen and enjoyed all of those films as well as most of the stuff that they have done individually. Frankly, I can’t wait to see what else they do together or separately.
Movie Grade: A
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Former teacher, lecturer, homelessness administrator, pharmacy dispenser now happily retired, happily married, and a very happy granddad. I live next to the Mersey but on the side Daniel Craig and Taron Egerton come from rather than the side the Beatles came from!