tetris (2023) review

april 2, 2023

so.. the tetris movie came out a few days ago! i'd been waiting to watch this movie for a couple months now and after watching the trailer last month i have to admit...... i didn't have high expectations. well, i wasn't expecting it to be a masterpiece, but i hoped it wouldn't be another biopic disaster. i came into this movie bracing myself for the worst and as i watched the credits roll, i was able to say that the final product did not go above or below what i had expected.

what is a movie about tetris even about?!

tetris (2023), directed by jon s. baird and written by noah pink, is a biographical drama about the struggle for the legal rights to a simple game that swept across the globe during the cold war. taron egerton stars as henk rogers, a game salesman who discovers a game created by alexey pajitnov (played by nikita yefremov) called tetris. falling in love with it, he makes it a goal to spread it worldwide on every console he can. when he finds out that obtaining the legal rights to distribute tetris are as puzzling as the game itself, he enters the battle against another company, mirrorsoft, while also trying to avoid creating conflict with kgb agents in the soviet union.

bad things first...

because i'd really rather not end on a sour note, i'll start with what i didn't like about the movie!

the first thing i noticed when i was about 20-30 minutes in the movie was how weird the pacing was. the movie starts with a very fast-paced intro that throws ten million names and important events at you in the span of six minutes, expecting you to remember all of it. the scene follows with a couple scenes of henk doing business stuff, which are quite slow-paced and boring compared to the beginning. the pacing smooths itself out, but i only was able to keep track of which character was who in the latter half.

the only thing funny about the film is that when you search it up on google, it says that its genre is drama/comedy. okay, fine, i can't say that the humor was completely bad. i will say that i let out a small snicker at one joke while watching it. i believe the main reason most jokes didn't land was because they were said at the worst times and ended up ruining tension. i really hate it when there's a heartfelt or dramatic moment, and a joke is forced into it, downplaying the entire scene. the jokes they tried to sprinkle in were just awkward and unfunny.

being honest? i really did not like henk at first. i only started to sort of like his character in the last quarter of the movie. he creates all these problems then pretends like it wasn't even his fault, and i hate people like that. he does own up to his actions later in the movie, but some scenes were kind of hard to watch because of how annoyed i got with him. they wrote him to follow the average cocky filmbro movie protag formula to a tee, which sometimes made him flat and not very interesting. he has the arrogance of mark zuckerberg in the social network, but none of the autistic swag.

the parts i liked!

hands down, the best part of the movie was the soundtrack. as expected, the tetris theme was a main motif, but the ways they incorporated it were quite creative. the songs they used supported the scenes they were in and enhanced the movie in general. i loved how not all of the songs were in english; it added to the atmosphere of the locations henk was at and didn’t give the movie an overly eurocentric/american feel. yes, some of the song choices were cheesy, but none of the cliche ones ruined the scene for me.

the style of the movie was also very cool and unique. pixel art was used throughout it, mostly in transitions, and i really enjoyed that aspect. it wasn’t overused to pander to the gamer audience, it mostly added to the whole aesthetic with the pleasing color palettes and the way they used color temperature as a storytelling device. despite how many color schemes were in the movie, it ended up being very cohesive rather than disorientating.

i think it’s a bit funny that even though henk is the protagonist, the side characters were written better than he was. the best character, in my opinion, is alexey. his character development was the typical “scared-to-confident” type, but this is one of the few tropes the movie utilized well. i liked his interactions with henk, his personality, and his motivations made sense. he was also easier to sympathize with and root for than henk was, haha. being honest, my favorite character was belikov because of how much he changed throughout the film. he had a lesser role than henk and alexey, but his character was just as good as theirs.

"tl;dr just tell me if i should watch it"

if i had to rate this movie, i’d give it no more than 4 stars, but no less than 3.5 stars (out of five). it was pretty good, and i think the main goal of this movie wasn’t to make an amazing 5-star 6 award winning film, but to just make a fun and exciting movie about tetris. the second half was better than the first half (probably because i wasn’t as tired.. i actually paused it in the middle and took a short nap LOL), but i think i’ll enjoy the entire movie more after a rewatch. i recommend watching this movie if you like biopics that are focused on a specific part of the subject (movies like the social network, my friend dahmer, kill your darlings, hidden figures(?), etc… it’s such a specific genre but it’s one of my favorites). compared to other biopics from the last few years, this is one of the better ones. man, after writing all of this i really wanna play tetris now…