review: the imitation game (2014)

“It’s all a game. Are you paying attention?”

After some dreadfully long weeks of hearing about this film, and not watching it – I finally did it. And after everything I’ve heard about The Imitation Game, I can say that I am definitely not disappointed.

Synopsis (IMDB): English mathematician and logician, Alan Turing, helps crack the Enigma code during World War II.

I hate these tiny IMDB synopses, because this single sentence does not even begin to describe what happened in the glorious 114 minutes, where my wide eyes seemed to be literally glued onto the screen.

WHAT I LIKED.

Benedict Cumberbatch.
See, I never got the appeal for him. He always just seemed like a not-very-attractive male actor, who had creepy blue eyes and a cool name. Man oh man did this film change my perspective of him. No, I am still not attracted to him, and still don’t get his physical appeal, but I am definitely attracted to his talent. This man can act. And Alan Turing was the absolute perfect role for him. It’s like he was born to play the character. His subtle little mannerisms, his strangely straight posture, his measly little hairstyle, his range of emotions, his comedic timing, and so much more were just phenomenal. He was great at playing the closed off computer genius, and then just released what seemed to be every single emotion held up in his bones at the exact perfect moments. Definitely deserves any award he receives for this role.

Alex Lawther as young Turing.
With minimal experience, it’s amazing how well-rounded this kid’s performance as the young Alan Turing was. Not only was his solo performance unbelievable, but even better when matched alongside Cumberbatch as the adult Turing. While Lawther looks enough like Cumberbatch to portray his younger self, they don’t look THAT much alike, and I think it was the incredible similarities in their subtle mannerisms – like the twitching of fingers, the quivering of lips, and the pauses/stutters in speech – that really connected the young Turing to the old one. As a young actor, who is already aware of those minimal things that enhance character portrayals, this kid is on the right path to go far with his onscreen career.

The screenplay, and the integration of comedy.
Obviously this was a very serious film, about serious events, and serious technical elements – but I absolutely loved the integration of comedy into the screenplay. I expected a great film, but I did not expect to laugh – and I did a surprisingly large amount of that during this film. The screenwriters just so witty with how they developed Turing’s character, and Cumberbatch delivered perfectly. The comedic relief was definitely an asset to this film, and really is the factor that sets it apart from many other of these “oscar-worthy” films.

Intercutting shots of Turing working on his machine with shots of him running.
When watching the trailer for this film, I definitely thought the running sequences that they showed had a very different context than what actually happened with these sequences in the film. I thought Turing was running away from something – but it seems he was literally just on a run. At first, I was a little thrown off, and was critical – thinking that they had just included these shots in the film just because they looked kinda cool, and helped make the working montage sequences, as well as the film trailer, look more exciting. However, I realized these shots were also very helpful in the development of Turing’s character. We saw his emotions during this run, something we didn’t really see much of, especially near the beginning of the film. These runs were where he sort of let out his emotions and showed weakness – not in front of other people – but in front of the larger world outside. It also seemed like he was trying to run and catch up to something that we couldn’t see, and didn’t know of – which is pretty much exactly what he was working towards with the building of his machine. And these were also really cool shots that made the trailer very exciting.

The score.
I had somehow downloaded the score onto my computer by accident, and literally just found a folder of them in my downloads folder one day. I gave them a listen, and was absolutely blown away. So I’m just mentioning here again, that the score was unbelievable. The compositions themselves were very powerful, but used in a way that didn’t overpower what was happening in the story, or on the screen.

WHAT I WAS ON THE FENCE ABOUT.

The use of archival footage.
I didn’t like, nor hate the archival footage – I’m honestly a little confused at how I feel about it. It was very powerful in relating the film to the real-life events that occurred, but also threw me out of the story a little. It might just be my OCD, but I like it when quality and style of shots remain consistent throughout the entire film. I’m wondering if it would have been better if the lower quality archival footage was replaced with similar shots, but shot by the same crew that shot the rest of the film? I’m not sure though, because again, the archival footage was very useful in connecting the film to real events – sort of reminding us that the overall story wasn’t fiction. So I’m on the fence about this.

The speed/amount of technical information.
I thought the amount of technical information included in the screenplay and the speed at which they were delivered to us was perfect – but I also study computers. My parents were a bit confused at some parts, and didn’t understand some events that occurred – like Turing’s breakthrough after talking with Helen at the pub about her communications with the German soldier. I understood everything, but was it too fast for the general public? Let me know in the comments!

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE.

There literally wasn’t anything I didn’t actually like.
Yep.

FINAL COMMENTS.

Yeah this was really good. It’s one of those films where it ends, and you just sit there, amazed at what you just witnessed. Yeah – it’s going to sweep award season, but no one should complain because it definitely deserves any award it receives.

Speaking of award season – I need to go edit my personal selection of winners for the Golden Globes.

“Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.”

just my rating: ★★★★★

Other reviews on The Imitation Game (2014)
Salty Sees – “The Imitation Game” Film Review
thepeoplescriticblog – Review: The Imitation Game
Bendict Fans – For Benedict Cumberbatch, Imitation is sincerest form of flattery

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