In early 2007, I had what felt like the greatest phone of all time. It was an iPod, a mobile phone and an internet communication device. But it wasn't an iPhone, because that hadn't been unveiled yet. It was a BlackBerry Pearl.
Before the iPhone, the BlackBerry was the undisputed king of smartphones. Used by politicians, journalists and anyone else who wanted to be contactable by email at all times, it was as much a status symbol as it was a tool. And then the iPhone came along and pummeled it into dust – partly because the people who made BlackBerrys simply didn't believe that the iPhone was real.
It's a classic case of hubris with a big dollop of not-invented-here syndrome, and it's a hell of a story. And it looks like BlackBerry the movie, which is in US cinemas now, tells it brilliantly. It's currently sitting with a whopping 98% Rotten Tomatoes rating from the critics and 92% from viewers.
Is the Blackberry movie worth watching?
Yes. Engadget hails its "brilliance" – "it makes the BlackBerry's journey feel like a genuine tragedy" – while the Chicago Sun-Times says it's "one of those whip-smart, character- and story-driven gems that grabs you from the start and never lets go."
The LA Times loved it too. "What emerges from the electronic noise and fussy aesthetic of 'BlackBerry' is a compelling portrait of a company that flew too close to the sun," Katie Walsh writes.
The obvious comparison here is Tetris, which is streaming on Apple TV+: that too is the story of an iconic tech product. Engadget didn't rate that one, and says that "lackBerry has everything Apple's Tetris film lacked: human drama grounded in actual history, without the need to spice things up with car chases and fantastical storytelling."
It sounds like a must-see to me, but sadly I'm in the UK where a release date hasn't been confirmed yet. However, the film is distributed by IFC Films, and that firm has an ongoing relationship with Hulu so Blackberry should be streaming there later this year. I'd expect a UK release, most likely on Disney+, to follow shortly afterwards.