Geek Review: Tetris (Apple TV+)

Publishing a video game is challenging but who would have realised that building the foundations of one of the biggest game titles ever made would involve Russians, The Cold War and seven simple blocks?

Talk about having everything fall neatly into place, with well timed drops of course and that’s the beauty of Tetris, a game that many of us have played but few can claim to be an expert on, almost 40 years after its debut.

Advertisement ▼

Apple TV+’s newest film Tetris channels the frenetic action of the classic puzzle game and follows the tiresome and dangerous journey publisher Henk Rogers and original game designer Alexey Pajitnov embarked on just so folks like us can still download the game from the App Store and spend hours playing it on our iPhone 14s. It is educational, sure, but just like the game itself, Tetris is colourful and fun! 


A puzzle game in which geometric shapes called ‘tetrominoes’ fall down onto a playing field and the player has to arrange them to form gapless lines, Tetris was first created by Russian scientist Pajitnov on an Electronika 60 before a Dutch video game developer and businessman living in Japan, Rogers, brought it to the beloved Game Boy – but the journey there was not so smooth-sailing.

Directed by Jon S. Baird (Stan & Ollie, Filth), Baird keeps Tetris fun by including video game elements in his storytelling. Each act and juncture of the film is presented with its own level title card – fit with 64 bit pixel art – and stylised fonts as subtitles. Random graphics also appear here and there throughout the movie to introduce characters or add some light-hearted humour or dramatic emphasis to the situation. It’s very Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, which if you don’t know already, popularised this style of mixing live-action and video game elements to tell a story. 


Aside from making the film visually fun, this style helps to keep viewers engaged in the story. This is especially since a good 70% of the movie is Rogers, played by Taron Egerton, and his competitors Robert Stein from Andromeda Software (Toby Jones) and Robert and Kevin Maxwell of Mirrorsoft (Roger Allam and Anthony Boyle respectively) negotiate with their Russian counterparts in a bid to win hand-held console rights to the game. There’s a lot of back and forth and adjourned meetings in the movie that Tetris could very easily become boring so the added video-game elements keeps it visually fun for viewers. 

The other 30% of the film is focused on the home life of Rogers, who missed numerous significant quality family time because he’s too busy flying back and forth from Tokyo and Moscow in his race to win Tetris. These segments humanise the story and make it a little bit more emotional for viewers.


It also features the budding friendship between Rogers and creator Pajitnov (Nikita Efemov) who are both kind, honest and protective over each other. Mind you, this is still the 1980s where tensions between America and Russia are incredibly high and such friendships can be considered as an act of disloyalty to the USSR so their friendship is not only a touching story, but a dangerous story too. Add in a little bit of KGB action and you’ve got a pretty wild ride – all for a single video game. 

Egerton leads the film as Rogers in this fun dramedy. Best known as Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin in the Kingsman movies, Egerton brings an honest and everyday-man vibe to Rogers. Even though we don’t know how the real Rogers is, Egerton really made him look like a likeable, dreamy and ambitious fella by always choosing the kinder and higher path amidst the cut-throat negotiations, lying and back door agreements. We can’t help but root for him, even though we know that he emerged victorious at the end. 

One might think that Tetris will only speak to gamers, but we think otherwise.

Sure, the video game elements and the subject matter may specifically pique the interest of gamers but one doesn’t need to be a gamer to appreciate the history and impact of Tetris. There is plenty of nostalgia attached to the game that one doesn’t necessarily have to be a huge gamer to enjoy the film. If you grew up anytime from the 80s to early 2000s, chances are you have heard or played Tetris, or are familiar with the other games mentioned and easter egg-ed throughout the film.

Nostalgia is a strong element ever present throughout the film, and when you pair that up with fun video game-like visual elements, Cold War–era thriller, double-crossing villains, unlikely heroes and a nail-biting race, you’ve got yourself a film that will keep you entertained for a whole two hours.

PS. We want to play Tetris now. We think after catching the film, you might want to too.

Tetris premieres globally on 31 March exclusively on Apple TV+.



Tetris is a fun dramedy heavy on nostalgia, geeky video-game elements and nail-biting thriller that will have viewers falling in love with the classic game like tetrominoes all over again.

  • Story - 8/10
  • Direction - 8/10
  • Characterisation - 8/10
  • Geek Satisfaction - 9/10