The Imitation Game (2014)

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8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Good cast, Cumberbatch

Rather typical biopic

 
Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Imitation Game

Studio:  Black Bear Pictures

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  August 29, 2014 (Telluride Film Festival)/November 14, 2014 (UK)/November 28, 2014 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

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A man and his whacked out machine…

World War II is raging, England is in the Third Reich’s target, and the key to stopping the battle could be Enigma.  Enigma is the German coding machine with millions of combinations that change daily.  Enter:  Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch).  Turing is a socially awkward mathmatician genius who has ideas about mechanics that could break the Enigma wide open and change the course of the war.

Directed by Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game is based on the 1983 biography Alan Turing:  The Enigma by Andrew Hodges.  The movie was released to critical acclaim and received an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay with nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Benedict Cumberbatch), Best Supporting Actress (Keira Knightley), Best Editing, Best Original Score, and Best Production Design.

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This is all just some Weird Science experiment to build Turing friend Christopher again

Unlike many biopic pictures, I was actually already familiar with Turing’s story.  In college, I saw the 1996 BBC adaptation of the 1986 stage play Breaking the Code starring Derek Jacobi.  This gave me a bit of background to the story which had remained a mystery for years.  The movie is what I’d call “Oscar Bait”, but it isn’t the worst case of it I’ve seen.

As with most biopics, liberties are taken with the story.  The movie paints Turing as almost an autistic loner who valiantly fights to create his dream machine to defeat the Germans.  The real Turing allegedly was less awkward, more open about his sexuality, and part of a team (though an important part).  I don’t know that the themes of the movie are too corrupted by these changes, but I sometimes wonder if they are necessary…the story is interesting without changes.

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I can’t wait to get married Joan, but I do have some bad news for you.

The movie also downplays the homosexuality of Turing until the end and it feels a bit jarring.  While Breaking the Code seemed to make his internal conflict a major part of the story, it is less so here.  The homosexuality is a theme throughout the movie but it is not the thrust (the very open minded reaction of Joan Clarke allegedly was true).  The movie then decides to make the whole story about the wronging of homosexuals by the British government at the end of the film.  It feels a bit odd…it also is strange that there is little mention that many suspect that Turing did not commit suicide and that he possibly could have been murdered.

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We sunk Hitler’s Battleship! Seriously, we just did

The acting for the movie is top notch.  Benedict Cumberbatch brings his unusual look and style to Turing (and I think that the character’s oddity was partially crafted to him like his Sherlock character).  The movie also did a fantastic job casting his younger version in Alex Lawther who does look like he could be a young Cumberbatch.  Keira Knightley is good as the spunky and bright Joan Clarke (though this character was also altered for the film).  Charles Dance’s role as Alastair Denniston was criticized for being harsh on Turing (something that allegedly never happened) and Alan Leech as the spy was trumped up for the story.  Matthew Goode is good as the enemy turned ally Hugh Alexander who is charming (but one again altered for the film).

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Alan…this is all in your head since this never happened in real life

The movie looks good.  It is deftly directed and has a lot of style to it while still being simple and  tight.  Biopics often struggle in this sense as they are generally period pieces and they can’t take many liberties, but I did like how some of the battle visuals were handled.

One of my least favorite award winning biopic pictures is A Beautiful MindThe Imitation Game has a lot of A Beautiful Mind in it, but it is better.  There are still faults with the movie and you can tell that the makers were itching to win an Oscar.  In this sense, I am a bit tired with movies like The Imitation Game that just try too hard to be liked.  I do recommend The Imitation Game to see an interesting historical moment that was kept under wraps for years, but I recommend looking into Turing on his own since he was a unique historical figure that helped change of the course of history with his pioneering work on computers.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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