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Gotta fit them in into the right quadrant. Must access the correct order. Must have the skills. I have to play Tetris!
Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters is another great documentary for gamers. A video game doc made in the same vain of King of Kong and the recent Indie Game: The Movie, we follow Tetris masters from when they were children to a second world championship in LA. The film also shows off the newcomer champions as they all come together for a fight to the finish. The movie teaches you Tetris and the tricks of the trade in a easy to understand manner, even for newcomers. Throughout the film your taught the game, how hard is to play, and how the champions win or lose.
There's some great back story on the Nintendo World Championships, a sort of addiction players have to the game and a bunch of lovable schmucks to watch. Except I hated Ben, but you can choose who you want to hate or root for in the film.
The film starts off with a great setup about the addiction of video gaming with one player seeing Tetris throughout his life.It's so bad he see Tetris in his cereal, in water droplets and so on. From there were introduced to multiple past champions and new "masters" of the game. Each has their own quirks, each is a huge nerd. The oddness or way each act might make you seeing similarities with yourself or others might piss you off with their attitude. I found it strange any women would be involved, but you get two. Strangely enough, one of them isn't fat and is a pretty cool lesbian with a Janelle Monae,/C. Viper sort of haircut. Dana is her name and she brings her own crew to the tournament that doesn't include her mother. What I'm getting at is each character is different and will have you betting on them to win.
Then there's Ben. Who brought his mother. I hated Ben. There's no real reason too. It's just fun to. Oddly, enough Tetris Master Ben Mullen has a wife, even though he's in uber geek. I had a bet with a friend he'd be divorced by the end of the film. Y'know with a where are they now subtitled section, but that never went up. Anyway, I hated Ben, but I could easily see hating any of these other "Masters". You were close Jesse with your stupid shirt " I > U", which isn't that funny.
The greatest person you want to hate and it's hard, because I would yell at my TV when Ben went on, is Thor. Yes, Thor Aackerlund, who was the original Nintendo World Champion. Mighty Thor, who doesn't even show off his skills, but all his Tetris competitors get so worked over. Thor, powerhouse of Tetris thunder, who hasn't played in years! He is the Billy Mitchell of the film. He even gets scary music when he's mentioned and the other players dig into him. Yet, like a game of Tetris things can change quickly and what you think might be coming or whose really the bad guy gets turned around and then inserted into a block formation, I mean just turned around.
Levels are added to the film with the build up of the next big confrontation and explanations of the game. So it might be footage of a player getting to a secret max out kill screen and then a guide will pop up explaining the kill screen and how hard it is to achieve.
You have different players vying for the championship and on the other hand you see players learning from each other. I'd say the stories main focus is on Robin Mihara who brought the tournament together and came in third at the Nintendo championships in his youth. It his passion that brings the other players together and brings back a fallen to earth god named Thor, or is he Loki, into the mix. I do like the bad guys and by the end Thor was my favorite player, he was my champion!
Oddly enough, I remember writing about this specific Tetris Championship on this very site a few years back. It happened here in the LA at the now Downtown Independent theater, right outside of Little Tokyo. Now there's one held at USC every year.
Like playing a good game of Tetris there's a lot of time and work that went into the film. There's great use of who these players/masters are which is mostly schmucks, but your schmucks. Trivial video game history, an odd addiction to a game and the people who play it make this movie something to both laugh at and study. Tetris is even studied in the movie on how your brain works after playing it.
I hate Ben
Interviews get a bit annoying as it's evident they weren't taken days apart, but were held back and nicely placed. Footage during the main tournament gets odd, I hated the way it was shown. It should have focused on the game. I would have liked some nicer build up shots to the tournament. There's a very odd shot of Thor's reactions to something in the tournament that seem totally out of place, almost as if the cameraman messed up. I know they went to Thor for an effect, but ehh, it doesn't work. Then there's Thor, did he need to be a villain per say, could his back story have been revealed more towards the end possibly? Other than that pacing was fine.
Lastly, the guy from Twin Galaxies weirded me out, but his a great character to pity or try to understand some of his delusions.
DVD extras are all out cool and the menus fun too. You get deleted scenes, original trailers and the actual footage of some crucial matches. There's early work shown, frankly the put on the extras you want. Wathcing Ben playing a tronbone is kind of a gift, what kind, I have no idea, but I still hate Ben.
This is a film you sit down and watch if you love video game trivia and would be great to package with Tetris: From Russia with Love. Totally addictive like the game itself to see to the end, pick up Ecstasy.
The DVD was provided by the publisher for review purposes.