Thursday, March 05, 2015

Movie Review: "The Imitation Game" (2014)

Demand the genuine article. 
This movie review is long delayed, but I promised La Parisienne that I would write one ... and a lady keeps her promises (even if she's not always punctual!).  The Imitation Game is Oscar-bait biopic filmmaking at its most quintessential, and even if the film ultimately failed to win that golden statuette for fangirl favorite Benedict Cumberbatch in his role as Alan Turing, it is still a largely solid project even if it (inevitably) takes liberties with factuality and (even more inevitably) verges on hagiography.  

In short, The Imitation Game is a movie you watch once and enjoy in the watching (hey, look, it's Tanner from the Bond movies, Tom Branson from Downton Abbey, and Tywin Lannister from Game of Thrones!), but it is also a movie that (aside from Cumberbatch's elegantly messy turn as Turing) I swiftly forgot when I left the theatre.  Maybe I should simply refer to the famous Turing Test for seeing if an intelligent machine can be mistaken for a human being.  This movie plays as a machine.  It's not human.  Oh, it tries.  Cumberbatch tries, and he tries on an Oscar caliber level.  But this movie both tries too hard and not hard enough.

I think part of the problem is that the movie keeps leaping among three different time periods: Turing's schoolboy days as an awkward adolescent, the thick of World War II and Bletchley Park's attempt to break the devilishly complex Nazi code enabled by the Enigma machine, and then 1952, when Turing was prosecuted for homosexuality (still criminalized under British law at the time).  The three separate threads do not come together into a unified whole, and so the final product seems disjointed and not a little incoherent.  Besides, Turing as a historical figure is far more (and far more interesting) than "tortured, persecuted genius," and I'm sorry to say that in the end, that is what the film makes of him, first and foremost.

Mad Minerva gives The Imitation Game the grade of B+.  Part of that grade is in grateful acknowledgment of how the flick resists the temptation to be a bloated, 3-hour-long, self-indulgent behemoth.  Another part is for Keira Knightley, who manages not only to be not annoying but actually interesting as a character.  Most of the B+, though, is for Benedict Cumberbatch, who is hands down the single best thing about this entire film.

The Imitation Game runs 114 minutes and is rated PG-13 for sexual references and some adult themes and situations.

Rotten Tomatoes gives The Imitation Game the Fresh rating of 89%.


lumpy said...

Good to see you posting!

Now, any plans for a review of American Sniper?

Mad Minerva said...

That movie is next on my review list!

Tom said...


Also, wow! Spring has hit your blog with new posts popping up all over!


Mad Minerva said...

New blog posts are popping up like snowdrops!

The winter was spent mostly being sick and overworked, but spring is here!