Tetris Is One Of The Greatest Video Game Movies Ever Made – In A Roundabout Way
Alexey Pajitnov, played by Nikita Efremov in the film, invented “Tetris” in the USSR in 1984. Because of this, Pajitnov didn’t exactly benefit once his game was licensed and distributed throughout the world … not at first, anyway. Without giving a beat-for-beat recap of the film’s depiction of these events, let’s just say Rogers is not the only one who sees the value in this deceptively simple game. At the same time, the Soviets aren’t particularly interested in playing things straight with the foreigners who want to profit from something created on their turf. As a result, we end up with — surprisingly enough — a Cold War era thriller crossed with an underdog story and a touch of “Moneyball” (read our official review here).
It may not sound like “Tetris,” but it’s the story of how the game made its way to the masses. What the film gets right is, despite all the swindling and trickery involving its real-life characters, the heart of the titular game is never lost. Jon S. Baird and writer Noah Pink remember to infuse the story with what makes the “Tetris” game special, and there are plenty of moments that remind us why it absolutely rules, even to this day. In that sense, it’s incredibly true to the spirit of its source material in a way so many video game movies historically haven’t been.
It’s easy to understand why, in the era of franchise-dominated Hollywood, a studio would want to capitalize on a globally recognized name like “Tetris.” But why try to make a story out of a puzzle game that has no plot or cinematic elements when the very real story of this game is so compelling, lending itself to the medium of cinema? Apple wisely saw the value in that story.