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Forget Mario: The Tetris Movie Is the Video Game Film of 2023

Last Updated on June 8, 2023

Currently screening on Apple TV, the new Tetris movie is less a digital action romp and more a behind-the-scenes look at the incredible story behind the game’s ownership.

Tetris: The Movie stars Taron Egerton as Henk Rogers, the man who spotted the game’s potential and fought to bring it to the biggest platforms in the late 1980s. Spending a sizeable chunk of time in the grey, wet surroundings of a distintegrating communist Moscow, the two-hour film fails to bore at any moment, keeping you gripped on the most unusual detail: the IP of a game that few had played at the point.

Ostensibly, the game was owned by the USSR, as its creator Alexey Pajitnov was an employee of Elorg, a state asset. While a Mr Robert Stein (Toby Jones) claimed to have the worldwide license for the game, we learn through the movie that this chap was less than honest about his dealings with Elorg.

And then there’s Robert Maxwell.

Played superbly by the always-excellent Roger Allam, Maxwell’s Mirrorsoft is a key player in the story of Tetris; it’s a matter of public record that the preposterous pension fund thief personally petitioned Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev (Matthew Marsh) himself to gain the rights to Tetris, despite his empire being on the brink of collapse. That moment occured because his oft-derided offspring Kevin Maxwell (here played by Anthony Boyle) screwed up various opportunities to seal the deal.

Throw in KGB machinations and corruption (Igor Grabuzov is excellent as Valentin Trifono, as is Sofya Lebedeva as Sasha), head honcho Nikolai Belikov at Elorg (Oleg Stefan) trying to do the right thing for the country he no longer knows, and Ben Miles making an appearance as Nintendo’s Howard Lincoln, and you’ve got a great movie with a satisfying ending. Of course it’s not 100% true, but it does end well, and closes with genuine video footage shot by Henk during one of his trips to Moscow.

In short, if you love retro video games, you need to see Tetris: The Movie. The accompanying video will give you a flavour.

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