If you’re looking for something a bit different to watch, I can recommend Tetris, a 1 hr 57 min movie streaming on Apple TV.

The main character is Henk Rogers, who in the 80s recognised the potential of the video game Tetris and set about trying to get a piece of the rights to distribute the game.

Henk is a Dutch American video game salesman based in Japan, who initially comes off as a bit of a cross between a huckster and a shyster (a shuckster?) – until he starts to negotiate with the people who may or may not have the rights, and may or may not see the game’s potential. This includes Soviet bureaucrats, Soviet secret police, a British trader, media tycoon Robert Maxwell and his even more odious son, the Japanese head of Nintendo, and the game’s Russian inventor.

Henk is soon jetting across the world trying to sew up at least some of the rights, as the money involved keeps increasing, from $5,000 to $10,000, then $50,000 – I’m about halfway through and Henk’s bank manager is less than delighted to hear he could make a $500,000 deal but has turned it down.

What could be a dry old story is enlivened by a few clever things, including silent movie style card interstices presented as 80s Mario Bros pixel animations of new characters as they emerge; a crystal clear explanation of how game rights differ when it comes to PC, console, handheld and arcade rights in different jurisdictions (all pre-mobile, of course); and a sparkling performance from Taron Egerton (who I last saw as Elton John in Rocketman).

Egerton carries the film, and the more we see him in action, both in his negotiations and as we meet his Japanese wife and family, the more likable he becomes.

Another aspect of the film is its engaging depiction of that moment when an innovation like a new game matches the zeitgeist just as a new platform comes along that can carry it to a huge audience. It’s about who gets it and who doesn’t, and who is prepared to do what to own it.

It’s all based on true events and, while I can’t verify how accurate it is, it’s certainly presented in a convincing way. And, so far at least, it’s extremely entertaining.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *