HUB Movie Review: The Imitation Game

Story posted April 3, 2015 in News, CommRadio by Sofia Westin

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

That…that’s just…a beautiful statement. *sniffles*

Here comes the movie based on true events of the man who created the computer and won World War II for the Allies, only to be chemically castrated for being a homosexual years later. Sure, no one knew he had won the war as it was not declassified until quite recently, yet you do question the irony. It’s a funny world we live in.

Meet Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock, Star Trek: Into Darkness), a brilliant mathematician who, through his dislikable nature, becomes in charge with breaking the German Nazi encryption code, called Enigma. By doing this, the British may decrypt Nazi messages and win the war. But, as it turns out, “Enigma is always smarter.” At the same time, he has to deal with the people who don’t understand and generally hate him, while also keeping his homosexuality secret.

Can he do it?

Well, spoiler alert: I don’t know about you, but you may remember a little something from your high school (yes it was many moons ago, but come on) history classes regarding the outcome of WWII. Hint, hint.

The Imitation Game was praised all around by critics and audiences, and was named a top runner for the awards for Best Film, Best Actor - Leading Role and Best Screenplay - Adapted early on in its campaign.  It ultimately was nominated for five Golden Globes, eight British Academy of Film & Television Arts and Academy Awards, for the above categories, among others. But, it only brought home one award which was the Oscar for best adapted screenplay, and the Oscar’s are what really matter.

Audiences at IMDb rated it at 8.1, and 93 percent of RottenTomatoes audiences liked it. It was also certified fresh with 87 percent of its top critics liking it. Over on MetaCritic it received a score of 73 with zero (!) negative reviews. The general consensus was towards Cumberbatch’s outstanding performance of Turing.

On the Penn State Scale...

1—when Penn State loses a game,

2—an 8 a.m class (which are awful),

3—a canceled 8 a.m class,

4—free books for a year,

and 5—free Creamery for a year,

Imitation Game, without a doubt, received all the top marks and thus rightly deserves (and is) a 5. Performance, story and theme wise, it is quite the masterpiece. 

The performances by both the leading and supporting actors are phenomenal, as they portray their respective person and showing the emotional difficulties brought on by war. Cumberbatch obviously stands out as he takes on this “odd” man, with his stuttering, fear of discovery, and blatant innocence to jokes and sarcasm.

The movie doesn’t only focus on Turing during his time solving Enigma, but also goes back in time to Turing during his school days, which helps further understand his character. It also follows him after the war, which is really when the story is set. Turing actually rather explains his past. So, the film doesn’t go in chronological order, but is weaved quite beautifully together that builds with themes that follow throughout the different time-periods.

Though Turing’s story is rather grim, The Imitation Game brings on lots of humor (albeit a little dry) which makes it a bit easier to watch. So it’s not that depressing (though it may bring on the water works, but that is all thanks to Cumberbatch’s performance). But, it is noteworthy that this film doesn’t just bring Turing’s work and existence to life (like I said, it wasn’t declassified until a few years ago), but also brings attention to that of the treatment of homosexuals during this time, when it was a punishable offense. So it serves two purposes: it celebrates this brilliant man and those who are different, or have ever felt different. The latter theme was especially prominent in Graham Moore’s Oscar speech when he won for best adapted screenplay. 

I do warn you though not to take everything as pure fact. It is based on true events, but some things have been added or skewed to either make it flow better or to make it more dramatic (a.k.a. a better story). Yes, you may cry in anger for that, but truth is it is done all the time, and every year the same debate comes up around Awards season about how well the based-on-true-events films really follow actual events. 

Well, my fellow Staters, enjoy this one and appreciate it. 

Sofia Westin is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism and economics. To contact her, email sgw5090@psu.edu.