Movie Review: The Imitation Game

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The Imitation Game (2014)

Rated PG-13: For Mild Smoking and Some Sensitive Content

Running Time: 114 minutes (1 hour and 54 minutes)

Genre/s: Biopic, Drama, History

Released on November 28, 2014 (US Release Date; Available For Worldwide Viewing)

Presented by The Weinstein Company, Black Bear Pictures, and Bristol Automotive

Based on the biography "Alan Turing: The Enigma" by Andrew Hodges

Writer: Graham Moore

Director: Morten Tyldum

Starring:
  • Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing
  • Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke
  • Matthew Goode as Hugh Alexander
  • Rory Kinnear as Detective Nock
  • Charles Dance as Commander Alastair Denniston
  • Mark Strong as Major General Stewart Menzies
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The Second World War is one event in the history of the world that created a lot of emotionally powerful and awe-inspiring true-to-life tales that simply scream the label of "Oscar-worthy material". While most of those flicks placed emphasis on the brave men and women fighting behind enemy lines, very few stories of heroes and heroines battling the good battle away from the war zone, usually get attention. For this movie review, we return to the year twenty-fourteen, and we discuss one of that time's greatest movies. I remember watching this flick as part of our robotics class, and yeah, most of my classmates were fast asleep that time since it was a hectic month, and I mostly recall the times some of my seatmates inquire me on the events of the flick. During that time, I realized then on how special the film really is, to the point that we just had to include it in our "Magnificent Seven". Welcome back, my friends, to Dateline Movies, and this is The Imitation Game.

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What is the movie about?

It was the era of World War Two, and as the boldest and strongest of soldiers grow increasingly in numbers, as the tides of chaos grow further across the globe, the most malevolent enemies grow smarter, carrying out their operations from the shadows.

The Enigma Machine, a coding device used by the Nazi forces to spread their messages all across Europe, is one problem that the Allies must solve, and that is where the brilliant-minded yet socially awkward Alan Turing, played by Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange), enters the war.

Joined by colleague Hugh Alexander, played by Goode (Watchmen), and later Joan Clarke, played by Knightley (Begin Again), under the supervision of Commander Alastair Dennistion, played by Dance (Game of Thrones), and some from Agent Stewart Menzies, played by Strong (Approaching The Unknown), Turing and his brave team of cryptographers to crack Enigma and win the war for the good guys!

Meanwhile, in the then future of nineteen-fifty-one, Detective Nock, played by Kinnear (Spectre), stumbles upon an older Turing, and he tells Nock all about his untold and secretive story, but as the story continues to unfold, Alan's secret is about to be brought into the light, a secret that can effectively ruin his professional career, and Turing would have to fight the skeletons of his past, in order to face the uncertainty of the future ahead of him.

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What we think of the movie?

Acting = (5/5)

Is it me, or is Benedict Cumberbatch being typecast as an on-screen eccentric genius? Most of his starring roles, from the hit television series Sherlock, the other biopic flick The Fifth Estate, to his portrayal as the titular scientist in the television film Hawking, plus the upcoming movie titled The Current War, wherein he will be playing the role of Thomas Edison, feature this typical trope, and The Imitation Game pushes the envelope for his knack for such roles even further. Mixed with the energy of a mad scientist, but not too much that it reaches the Doctor Frankenstein level, Cumberbatch, with focus placed on more of his inner turmoils, charms the audience, and his performance perfectly portrays Alan Turing as an all-around bright mind, who may be hard to get along with, but has a big heart, nonetheless! While I did not meet Alan Turing in person, meaning that I have absolutely no idea how he was in real life, I have high hopes that he is smiling up in heaven, knowing that Cumberbatch honored him with his work here.

Equally matching Cumberbatch's towering performance is none other than Keira Knightley's portrayal of Joan Clarke. I find it weird that most people did not enjoy her performance here. I thought she was okay, and her on-screen chemistry with Cumberbatch is decent enough. While most historians, including the relatives of the real Joan Clarke, point out that she could have pulled off a better job, her efforts in painting the picture of one of the most important people in Turing's life, namely as one of the people that Turing truly cared about, are nevertheless good in my perspective. Besides, if you did not at least tear up a little bit at Turing and Clarke's reunion in the ending, you either have a heart of stone, or no heart at all. 

Also, in small roles, Matthew Goode, Charles Dance, Rory Kinnear and Mark Strong deliver fine performances as one of Turing's doubting co-workers, Turing's overbearing superior, an inspector exploring the morality of Turing's life, and a mysterious agent working in the gray area, respectively. In addition, Alex Lawther was pitch perfect as the younger version of Alan Turing.


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Direction and Quality = (5/5)

Under the helm of Morten Tyldum, who later on directed the twenty-sixteen release Passengers, a film that we claimed was a somewhat inferior outing for the director compared to this one, The Imitation Game is one of probably many historical biopic that had good cinematography, with this one done by ├ôscar Faura, and decent editing, here done by William Golodenberg.

While it is a war movie, only a handful of scenes actually featured fighting and explosions, and with The Imitation Game, we move away from the battlefield, and into the large server rooms and workshops of Blechley Park. Sure, it may be a war movie, but a movie of such genre does not need to contain graphic deaths or executions to make a movie completely pivotal, and the decision to instead focus on the efforts of people who did not hold a gun to contribute to the battle for freedom, is admirable and commendable.

As most people who have commented about the score said, and I am just paraphrasing from YouTube user "Marianne", there is nothing better out there to listen to, while you are computing for various problems, than this amazing score by Alexandre Desplat. Indeed, the soft, gentle, melodic beats of the striking of the piano keys does make you feel smart, a little, and the work done will just blow your mind, as the score reflects the dramatic, emotional mood the movie is going for.


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Story, Dialogue and Flow = (4/5)

For a movie that is more or less based on a true story, you would normally expect that the historical accuracy of the work is at its possible highest. That is, apparently, not the case for this flick, as apparently, as it is revealed in our handy dandy Wikipedia, there are several narrative inaccuracies. While I was not aware of the several mistakes the story contained, the movie could have tried a little bit more to stay true to the actual events, although the movie did end up still delivering a captivating portrayal of Alan Turing. One mistake include Alan Turing's actual depiction, wherein here, he is seen as possessing some certain traits that suggest that he is under the autism spectrum, whereas in real life, it has only been theorized that he might possess those traits, but he is actually sociable. Another misconception includes the very ending of the movie, wherein it is directly stated that he committed suicide, while in reality, the cause behind his actual death is still up for debate.



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Another problem with the story is that it falls into cliche territory a few times, but we will discuss those not-so serious concerns yet, and for now, let us see what makes the movie's story so profoundly brilliant, despite its shortcomings.

My most favorite part about the movie is how it handles Alan Turing's homosexuality, honestly and powerfully. While I may not be a homosexual myself, the fact that the movie managed to make its complex theme into a much more thought-provoking message that everyone can relate to, can just tug a heart string of mine or two. The flashback scenes that feature Turing in his school days, wherein he catches affections for his best friend Christopher, only to be devastated once the young Turing discovers that Christopher did not tell him that he was dying from tuberculosis, and he only found out about this when Christopher finally passes away, fleshes-out our main character. We get to see the many dimensions that reflect Turing, including his struggles to keep his true self a secret.

I personally admire the analogy that the movie made, comparing both a machine and a human being, and then poses the million dollar question, "just because it is different, does it mean that it is not thinking at all?" Okay, I might have the quotation mentioned incorrectly, but whether or not what I said is just as the one heard in the flick is not the main point, but it is whether or not does one person in real life should be discriminated, outcast, shunned, feared, or hated, simply because they do not share similar views as most of us do.

Also, one striking scene in the movie is the part wherein they finally "broke Enigma", after Turing experiences an epiphany, the team makes a difficult decision to allow innocent people to die, in order to preserve their secret, much to the dismay of one of their own, Peter Hilton, played by Matthew Beard (The Riot Club). It, like the analogy, makes viewers question the morality surrounding the situation, and the ever timely concept of "the greater good versus the lesser good."


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Ending, Originality and Story Fulfillment = (4/5)

Like I said, the movie falls under some cliche categories, with most of them rooting from the several alterations made for the big-screen adaptation. Remember that these tropes would not entirely ruin your overall movie viewing experience. The most obvious cliche that can be found is in the form of the premise of the story, the "Chosen Few" cliche, wherein selected individuals form a resistance movement to make a top-secret project, in order to bring down a sinister empire's secret weapon from the shadows. This slightly altered, wherein instead of enacting violence against the enemies, they battle without the use of any form of physical threat, but instead makes use of intelligence, in order to combat the threat.

We also have the "league of the protagonist's own", wherein the leading gentleman of the movie, due to personal problems, is distrusted by the rest of his colleagues, which causes him to work mostly all alone, although he receives some support from his most trusted friend, with Matthew Goode's. Plus, Commander Alastair Dennistion, who was, in the real world, a strong supporter for the project, is dwindled down to the "authority foil", who is not impress at the initial lack of progress, which gives him the motivation to pull the plug on their world-saving project.


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By the time we get to the falling action of the flick, I recommend to prepare a handful of tissue papers, because seriously, you will definitely cry. I will make things brief.

With his secret discovered by John Cairncross, played by Allen Leech (The Sweeney), a Soviet agent unknowingly placed in the group by Stewart Menzies, believing that the Soviets can become potential allies, Turing proceeds to call his engagement with Clarke, revealing to her his homosexuality, and affirming that he really does care for her. After several successful operation they disband, but are to keep their efforts unknown to the public, and fast forward into the then present, Turing's real identity has been made known to the rest of the world.

Turing is then forced to experience several painful encounters, including having him undergo chemical castration, and in the closing moments of the film, we are treated to a heartwarming reunion with Turing and Clarke, and while his spirit breaks, Clarke reminds him of the astounding value of their work.

In the end, as the credits crawl, we realize that for many years, we have overlooked such a noble hero, who has done a lot of good deeds, all of which he was not given any form of recognition then, until today, but not after the world has shunned him for being different. Overall, this movie is a huge eye-opener, and it will just leave you breathless, and for sure, thanks to the film, you will always remember that being different does not mean it is bad.

Overall Evaluation = (4/5)

Many, many historical inaccuracies aside, this movie is a touching and emotional tribute to one of the Second World War's unrecognized heroes, and made more mesmerizing by the likable pairing of Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley

TOTAL = 22/25 (Awesome!)

While it acts more like a fan-fiction based on historical events, The Imitation Game succeeds as a genuinely moving biopic, fueled by emotionally resonant central performances, complete with a powerfully thought-provoking message.


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Well this movie review took way longer than expected. Wow, writer's block can be painful at times apparently. And with that comes the end of our latest movie review, and my oh my, we have not written in a long while. Hopefully I can make more while school is still starting. Also, we just learned recently the legendary Batman actor, Adam West, passed away from leukemia, and we have also heard some more bad news, including the Resorts World Manila shooting. Let us all hope for the best. Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!

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