Tetris – Film review by Andrea Carnevali

Tetris ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️- Review by Andrea Carnevali

The story of how one of the world’s most popular video games found its way to players around the globe. Available to watch on Apple+ from 31 March and on limited release in selected cinemas.

The beauty of the game Tetris lays in its simplicity: all you need to do is slot falling four-cubed shapes into place to clear the board and win points. Easy-peasy.

But apparently getting the actual game to us players across the world, was anything but simple.

The film is the story of how that happened (or almost didn’t), and surprisingly a lot of it is true, which having seen the film I can safely say is absolutely bonkers (and when you see it too, you’ll agree with me).

The complex plots circles around series of convoluted twists, turns, backstabbing incidents, double-crossing characters, and even the involvement of the KGB and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, as different people, from Russia, Japan, and the UK (courtesy of Robert Maxwell, Mirror proprietor, MP and fraudster who is one of the many baddies), all try to get their hands on the copyright for the game, which was originally invented by an unsuspecting Russian programmer in his spare time.

Considering how convoluted the whole plot is, it is a mark of good storytelling that we the audience are actually mostly on top of it, or at least just enough to be able to enjoy the various machinations and go along with the ride.

The film has a lot of fun with all these absurd elements and characters, and even though it is often unsure about its overall tone (at times it dips into a really dark cold war thriller, but often it feels more like a parody of itself), there is no denying that it’s always inventive, entertaining and constantly surprising.

How much of the punches, car chases around Moscow (filmed from a birds eye point of view and hilariously rendered to look like a video game) or the final nail-biting airport sequence are actually true is very debatable. A lot of that is clearly over-the-top and definitely stretches believability, but who cares when it is all so gripping?

Whether real or not, the film clearly wants you to have fun! Just look at the way the characters are depicted: the Russian baddies are unashamedly caricatures of themselves, in typical ‘80s Hollywood style, but however farcical it may all seem at times, the level of suspense remains, and the thrilling aspect of it works surprisingly well.

In the end Tetris just wants to be a popcorn-whimsical-comedy- spy-thriller driven by that ‘80s nostalgia that a lot of films seem to have these days.

Its soundtrack too is infectious and makes the most of its catchy tunes, from The final countdown by Europe to Bonny Tyler’s I Need a Hero (I challenge anyone not to tap with feel along with either of those), but also has a ball at rearranging an old Russian folk song (which famously was eventually used for Tetris the game itself) into an orchestral sweeping and exciting score.

All of which contribute to the adrenaline level to rising up as the ever reliable Taron Egerton still manages to keep the emotional heart of the film firmly on the ground, sometimes in a slightly cheesy fashion, but that too is part of the ‘80s, isn’t it?

It’s probably not for everyone, but I found it thoroughly engrossing and riveting.

The film is released on Apple+ on the 31 March and on limited release in selected cinemas (and as always the infectious laughs of the audience I saw this with, helped me like it even more).

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick, and a co-creator of the Chiswick In Film festival.

See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali

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