It is still a Tuesday and with a main weekend lot done and dusted, I did get a chance to take a look at my watchlist. With that I finished watching the new English film Tetris which is now streaming on Apple TV. Probably the 90s kids would be the last generation to truly enjoy video games. To give others a perspective, it wasn’t anything similar to the ones that you would find on your mobiles. It was a separate device with inbuilt games integrated as a software. It was almost a thing that would be flaunted, thus being an integral childhood memory of most 90s kids!
One such video game that we often did play and enjoy was Tetris. The game did have pieces of blocks which would fall from the top of the screen and once an entire line was completed, that part would disappear thus resulting in points. The game was a rage back then and almost as addictive as the smartphones today. I remember owning a video game of exactly that and being glued on it for hours. And so when I did come across this new film Tetris, I was really curious on the story behind the game and how the rights were acquired. With much hope, I did venture into Tetris, does it live up to my expectations, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Tetris follows the story an American salesman who discovers the game Tetris only to be entrapped in a web of lies and corruption with respect to the rights of the game. The story here is refreshing and almost unassuming as a thriller. Being set in the late 80s, the thing to be noted is that the series of events that took place amidst the backdrop of the Cold War between US and the erstwhile Soviet Union. The screenplay standing at a shade under 2 hours does make for a compelling watch that would keep you on your toes right throughout.
The drama does open with the introduction of the protagonist who accidently does stumble upon the new game Tetris at an event. He is definitely interested in procuring the rights for the game and here the writers do well in introducing the viewers to the other main ‘players’ involved. The scene transitions are designed to be a video game by almost being pixelated that does give an impression to the viewer that the entire setup is a video game in itself. Soon, you are introduced to the main conflict wherein the writers tactful integrate the geo-politics which was unfolding during the time with US and USSR being are logger heads with one another!
The proceedings are engaging and engrossing and at times I did find it slightly difficult to even keep pace with the drama. The events are filled with jargons related to the erstwhile technology with traces of business terms which might be slightly overwhelming for a viewer. But I found myself drawn to the drama unassumingly given my technical(and now business) background. In fact, it was almost fascinating to understand the chain of events to acquire the rights of the game in an era where spying on people was a common phenomena. The politics in the drama does make the drama textured and flavourful wherein the prevalent game of one upmanship was nicely established here.
In between the chaos and the politics, the writers do integrate a tender little subplot of friendship between two unlikely individuals. The concepts of a communist nation followed by a steady eye on every indivudual was nicely touched upon. The events leading up to the final act are exhilarating but my one criticism here being that it ended prematurely. The setup was very much there for an Argo or a Baby type finale and the writers could have further escalated the tensions as opposed to just tapering off the drama. But taking nothing away from the journey which can best be termed as unassuming and something that almost unfolds like a thriller despite this being a biographical drama(ofcourse with liberties).
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The entire drama is designed to be conversational and the dialogues here add authenticity to the drama with the right mix of technical jargons. The only drawback would be if the viewers are able to absorb those terminologies which is a subjective discussion in itself. But I thoroughly enjoyed it. Also, the lines are spread across Japanese and Russian along with English that add another layer of authenticity to the drama.
The music is excellent and it elevates the drama at several places. The inclusion of yesteryear’s classics are a clever way of showcasing the bygone era. The BGM is pulsating and absolutely brilliant. The cinematography and particularly the VFX is top notch and both contribute to make this drama technically superior. The editing is crisp and sharp too. Director Jon S. Baird does a phenomenal job is constructing this unique thriller which is far too unassuming. The fact that I was completely invested in the drama does make a good case for the direction of the film which was excellent.
The performances are top notch here. Toby Jones are Robert, Igor Grabuzov as Trifonov and Anthony Boyle as Kevin Maxwell have their moments to shine. Sofia Lebedeva as Sasha is impressive and does a swell job as does Ayane Nagabuchi as Akemi. Nikita Efremov as Alexey is sincere and earnest in what is an affable character. Taron Edger as Henk Rogers is absolutely brilliant and anchors the movie beautifully through his amazing act.
Tetris is an unassumingly brilliant thriller with splendid performances that makes for a compelling watch. Available on Apple TV and Highly Recommended!