‘Tetris’ Is a Nostalgic Retelling of the Game’s Dramatic Origin Story

Still from 'Tetris.'
Apple TV+

Streaming services have really been trying to capitalize on our nostalgia recently, from Blockbuster sitcoms to documentaries about the rise of brands like Abercrombie & Fitch. But while many of these titles have succeeded to a varying degree, the new Apple TV+ movie, Tetris, feeds off a generation's childhood memories in the best way possible.

Tetris stars Taron Egerton as Henk Rogers, the game designer and entrepreneur who secured the rights to sell Tetris on handheld consoles. But the 2-hour movie is so much more than a story about colored blocks. In fact, there are details that will likely be new to most viewers.

As we learn in Apple TV's latest release, the beloved video game was designed by a Soviet software engineer named Alexey Pajitnov. While working for a computing center, Pajitnov used his free time to develop one of the most popular video games of all time. However, the rights for Tetris are quite complicated, and that's where our movie begins.

tetris hero
Apple TV+

Tetris shows how the handheld rights for the game became a global competition, with various companies believing they owned the rights, but the documentation indicated otherwise. All of this came to a head when Rogers traveled to the Soviet Union to get everything straightened out himself, encountering threats, bribes and more in the process (of course, some of these scenes might be Hollywood embellishment, but we're willing to look the other way for the sake of TV).

Sure, some of the legalese can get a *touch* confusing at times, but even if you don't totally understand what's going on, the movie makes it fairly easy to follow.

However, while the biographical elements of Tetris will pique the interest of any history buff, it is also a love letter to fans of the game. Here at PureWow, we had plenty of editors who were transported to their childhoods merely upon hearing the title.

Editor-in-Chief Jillian Quint said, “We had a family Game Boy and all fought over who got to play it before bed... Also I could still probably play the Tetris theme song for you on the clarinet.”

Meanwhile, PureWow's Director of Audience Development, Mary Rogers, noted that her family was “obsessed with Tetris.” She added: “We used to leave post it notes (hello pre-cell phone days hah) with new high scores at our grandparents house to keep track of who had the new high score.”

In a creative stylistic touch, the movie even incorporates graphics from the game into its cinematography. During alternating scenes, this is demonstrated with 8-bit graphics, which then morph into live-action footage. It's details such as this that appeal to video game fanatics, making the movie feel authentic for those who grew up playing the games of this era.

Along with these artistic choices, Tetris is buoyed by winning performances from Egerton and his co-stars, including Toby Jones (Infamous), Nikita Yefremov (The Rehearsals), Roger Allam (Game of Thrones) and Anthony Boyle (Tolkien).

Still from 'Tetris.'
Apple TV+

PureWow Rating: 4.5 Out of 5 Stars

Tetris is not merely another attempt to cash in on our nostalgia. The biographical drama is a love letter to the gamers who grew up playing Tetris. However, it's also an engaging ride for anyone who wishes to learn a bit more about how this game got into the hands of so many people around the world.

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Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Joel is the Associate Editor for News & Entertainment and has been reporting on all things pop culture for over 5 years. Before working at PureWow, he served as a Features...