WTF…Thursday: Tetris

(Update: A year and a half after this horrible idea was revealed to the world, they’ve made it pretty clear they plan to make a trilogy out of it. I can’t even fathom who thinks that’s a good idea.)

It’s been a while since I was clear headed enough to look upon the face of stupid and not blink. It’s hard to speak of stories that make me go “WTF” when the shit being shaken off of walnut trees is making me go “I wanna die”. But as I finally started to feel clear again I looked up and found myself seeing something that just could not be fathomed. For this, I have donned the appropriate attire and lifted my mighty keyboard once more to cast it against the wall in sheer aggravation.


But what I have returned to tell you of is not going to be easy to hear. No, in fact, I think it may drive many to the brink of madness. Those of you out there who are writers of any sort will cringe at the very mention of what I have come to say to you on this day. So, if you are reading this on a phone, or a tablet, or anything else that would allow you to be standing, I will need you to sit for a moment and brace for the shit I am about to lay out for you.

Are you sitting? Okay, if you are, click the jump…

They’re Making A Fucking Tetris Movie

The house of ideas

It was recently that I first saw the stories that someone had purchased the rights to adapt Tetris into a film. At first, it was just a random story that I believed to be a hoax or some sort of practical joke that had gone too far. Maybe it could have been an attempt by film critics to troll people and make them realize how stupid adapting everything could actually be. Perhaps it was even just that some foreign film had a similar name and we were just unable to understand it without context. Whatever the case may have been, all that was left with me were the urges to play some Tetris and make jokes about the line block being played by Jim Caviezel.

Though others have pointed out better shapes

But when following the urge of playing Tetris I went to Facebook where I often play Tetris Battle – a fun little romp of playing Tetris competitively and feeling good about yourself until you get high enough that you’re inevitably crushed by wave after wave of opponents with names spelled in Asian characters. As I approached this, Facebook flashed me with something that made me temporarily lose all faith in common sense and logical thinking.


It was all fucking true.

Since seeing it, I’ve also seen a lot of people who aren’t as dismayed by this, citing the likes of Battleship and Super Mario Bros. as signs that film producers are willing to adapt anything. But this is where I’m probably going to blow your mind a second time: Battleship could have worked. Battleship should have worked.

I know, that sounds like crazy talk, but I’ve always been a proponent of the idea that you can make a story about anything provided you have one of three things:

1)    A Premise
2)    A Setting
3)    Unique Characters

Given one of any three of these you can make a story. For a lot of people this is where they go blind on Battleship because they see “film about a board game” and blank on the fact that Battleship doesn’t just have one of these, it has two. Don’t believe that’s enough? Give this pitch a whirl:

“Struck by a sudden solar storm that has crippled most of their electrical equipment, two naval commanders from enemy nations are forced to deal with a problem they’ve never had: fighting an enemy they cannot see. Knowing that both fleets are out there, but blinded to their exact location, these commanders face each other in a deadly game as they’re forced to fight blindly across the endless seas.”

See? All you have to do is plug in a few memorable characters and your movie is made. The problem with Battleship wasn’t that it was based on a board game, that should have made it easier because you didn’t have to worry about adaptation decay. When the thing you’re adapting literally has no plot you don’t have to worry about fucking up the details. Adapting a board game is like a writing prompt with no baggage, a cakewalk for anyone who doesn’t over-think it.

Coming Soon with Adam Sandler – I’m not kidding

But the Battleship writers just couldn’t stay the course, they had to include inhuman creatures to the plot – and an alien invasion! In fact, Battleship ended up accomplishing something that continues to shock me every time it happens: it was overcomplicated and yet incredibly thin at the same time. Only film can accomplish such a feat because it is the only place where you can throw millions of dollars at a special effect that completely warps the nature of the story you’re telling and yet still have it equate to nothing. One needs to only look as far as the filmography of Michael Bay to know that complexity and depth need not travel in the same circles when CGI is available.

Though they did make Shia Labeouf seem incredibly lifelike as he was holding that MacGuffin

But okay, let’s just assume you think that Battleship being adapted without a plot is a fluke. Let’s just say that you still think it’s in the same stupid domain as a Tetris movie. How about we throw some more examples at you?

Genre: Action

Originally Has: Character, Setting, Premise

“No one expected him to escape, certainly no one expected him to become so attached to a human woman, but now he’s disappeared with her. A simple carpenter with a story no one will believe is now forced to confront the beast high above the city to save the woman he loves.”


“Oh sure”, you’re thinking, “but that already had a paper thin plot.” How about these, then?

Genre: Horror

Originally Has: Character, Setting, Premise

“Trapped in a haunted maze with vengeful spirits, a man does everything he can to stay alive, scavenging for food and running for his life in hopes he can eventually find a way to escape. Little does he know the maze hides a power that can banish the poltergeists back to where they came.”

pac-man-keep-calm-posterGenre: Adventure

Originally Has: Character

“Faced with losing everything but remembering old family stories of a mysterious rare crop, a merchant captain sets sail in hopes of finding the thing that will save his family from ruin. Traveling to all corners of the Earth, he and his crew face perils at every turn as they search the seven seas for the elusive… crunch berries.”


And, just to show you that it isn’t even the KIND of game that makes it a problem.

Genre: Fairy Tale/Fantasy

Originally Has: Character, Premise, Setting

“Swept away to a mysterious land of candy and fantastic creatures, one little girl wanders through a magical world, solving problems for all of the creatures she meets in a sweet adventure for all ages!”


So by now, I’m sure you can see that having these elements could allow anything, no matter how ridiculous, to be adapted into a credible movie – even without a plot. But then I have to ask you: what the HELL does Tetris have? It doesn’t have a setting, that’s for sure, unless you were to take the title screen literal and decide to just put it in Russia. It doesn’t have characters unless you’re going to cast people as the actual blocks, and Hayden Christensen might be too busy. The only thing you could have for premise is the protagonist eternally falling from the heavens and people saw that last year!


No, what Tetris has is jack and squat. There is no premise, there are no characters, and there is no setting. Whatever executive thought this was a good idea was either high on shrooms from his “research” into rebooting the Super Mario franchise while holding a gameboy, or had a brick fall on his head and decided that was enough to build two hours on. If you want to see rigid characters who can only fit a specific role and show nothing related to human emotion besides shock as they repeatedly fall for no fucking reason, go watch the Twilight movies.

Because, despite my belief you can make a story about anything once the essentials are covered, the closest thing you will ever get to a live action Tetris that is watchable is this guy.

Unless they’re remaking The Wizard.

(I write books. The one silver lining about this is that it proves I’m probably going to have a movie someday too.)