Monday, April 3, 2023

Movie review for Tetris: In Apple's sleek but clumsy entertainment film about the top-grossing video game, Taron Egerton does fantastic work


Review of Tetris: The charming entrepreneur who was instrumental in bringing the iconic video game to fans all over the world is played by Taron Egerton to his best advantage in the new Apple movie, but the film is unable to maintain the vigor of its fast-paced first half.

After a deliriously entertaining first half, the new Apple TV+ film starring Taron Egerton, Tetris, degenerates into a mess of its own making, much like a gamer who initially resolves to take the elegant approach before resorting to button-mashing. Henk Rogers, a charming entrepreneur from the 20th century who spotted gold in the hills and worked tirelessly to find it, is played by Egerton.

In this instance, the enduring video game Tetris was the gold. In the first scene, we see how Henk became involved in a high-stakes corporate bidding war that would lead to an international standoff after discovering the game at a convention in the 1980s and realizing its enormous potential. Making the film a cross between a spy thriller and a drug smuggling drama was the smart move by director John S. Baird in this case; neither genre is one that one would expect a movie of this nature to embrace. The best scene in the movie takes place behind the Iron Curtain during the height of the Cold War, when Henk tries to negotiate a deal with the Soviets for the game's rights while balancing his own personal interests with those of his employers.

This sequence has a hilarity to it because the American, who is comically animated and wants to make money for a Japanese company, is questioned by grave-looking Russians. Backroom wheeling and dealing, on the other hand, is reminiscent of the excellent espionage film Bridge of Spies, in which Tom Hanks played an American attorney assigned by his country to facilitate a barter deal between two prisoners of war. He became close to a Russian spies played by Mark Rylance along the way. Henk develops a similar relationship with a local man named Alexey in Tetris; the game's computer engineer, in his spare time away from his drab government job. Continually under reconnaissance, Alexey hesitantly consents to go along with Henk in Moscow, promptly drawing in the consideration of evil looking KGB specialists, yet in the process finding his own organization.

He initially views Henk as the embodiment of what he has been taught to despise as a communist. If you think about it, Henk only cares about money. Even though the movie doesn't say anything bad about capitalism—it literally puts business ahead of art by telling the story from Henk's point of view, not Alexey's—it doesn't mean that communism was bad in Russia, especially during the Soviet era. In point of fact, the Russia sections are almost comically dull, with entire scenes set inside brutalist buildings or on icy gray streets. The tiniest respite comes when Alexey takes Henk to an underground party once and later goes on a fun car chase that Baird spiced up with colorful CGI Tetris brick bursts.

In fact, the video game's 8-bit animation style is reflected in several establishing shots, and Lorne Balfe's background score is reminiscent of the synth-heavy 1980s. Tetris is not based on a video game; A movie about video games is in it. However, at certain points, like the chase, it doesn't hesitate to embrace the candy-colored aesthetic that fans of video games from the arcade adore.

Despite the thinly crafted characters, this type of film typically faces the challenge of keeping the audience's attention. After all, how can one continue to support a person who clearly only wants to win? Tetris tries to get around this issue by combining Henk's personal greed with frequent reminders that he is also a family man. As a result, there are a few scenes in which we see him with his young children and wife. The movie wisely switches to Alexey in the final third, possibly realizing that it cannot expect the audience to remain invested in Henk's journey when he shares the screen with a larger underdog.

However, by that time, the movie has become too entangled in its own plot to care about the characters or expect us to. This is a pity because the performances, particularly those of Taron Egerton as Henk and Nikita Yefremov as Alexey, are vulnerable and captivating. The young star Egerton, who has shown such a wide range in previous projects, is particularly good here. Even though the scenes in which he tries to sell Tetris to potential investors are hilarious gold, he somehow never lets you forget that the film's dramatic anchor is Henk's shaky devotion to his family. In the past, Egerton has been compared to Hugh Jackman because he is such a showman, but in this film, he is like a young Leonardo DiCaprio.

Tetris doesn't quite come together at the end, despite a strong performance by a movie star, a pulsating soundtrack of pop covers, and a lot of visual flair. It could be that writer Noah Pink overstuffed the plot with irrelevant nonsense when he couldn't decide what to do with the characters, or it could be that the film's second half never manages to maintain the vigor of its fast-paced first hour. Regardless, a lesson can be learned from this; Sending a draft back for a few rewrites is always a good idea.

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