Plot: What’s it about?
While watching The Imitation Game, my wife commented to me that our generation really never had to deal with something like a World War. She’s right (she’s always right). There was a scene in the film in which people had to take part in a bomb drill. And it hit me – people actually used to have to do that. You had to take time out of your day to prepare for the possibility of getting bombed. About the closest we’ve had to that in this generation is 9/11 – but to compare that to World War II isn’t a comparison at all. Moving forward, I’m looking at my desk and see all of the technology that I’m surrounded by. There’s probably more technology in my phone than there was in the code-breaking machine feature in this film. The computer I’m typing this review on was, no doubt, a brain child of Alan Turing. It’s people like this that have really (and did) make a difference in the world. And it’s films like this that gave us the insight to see what these people truly did. I didn’t know what to expect before seeing this film, but knew the accolades must be well worth it…
Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a shy, yet confident, genius. He’s a cryptologist who’s called into service for the British government to try and break the Nazi’s codes. Turing, along with a team of talented folks, have a nearly impossible task ahead of them. Turing quickly isolates himself from the group, working on his own machine. He enlists help via a crossword puzzle put out in the paper and lands Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), a brilliant code-breaker in her own right. However her parents won’t allow her to work alongside other males. Add to this that Turing has to hide his sexuality as it’s illegal (yes, really) to be homosexual in Britain in the 1940’s. Put under an ultimatum by Commander Alastair Denniston (Charles Dance), Turing and his group must break the Nazi code in a month’s time, else the program will cease to exist. We all know how the war ended up, but how well did we all know how big a part Alan Turing played?
I have to admit that I really had no idea who Alan Turing was before I saw this film. As it turns out, I think the world would be a much different place had he not succeeded with his machine. For all intents and purposes, he’s the father of the computer. Sadly, he took his own life in the 50’s so there’s no telling how many other brilliant ideas he’d have come up with. The Imitation Game stands as my second favorite movie of all the Best Picture nominees (Whiplash takes top honor). It’s expertly written, acted and screenwriter Graham Moore won a well-deserved Oscar for his work (and gave one of the more memorable acceptance speeches in recent history). Keira Knightley holds her own with Cumberbatch, but anyone who doesn’t see the talent in this guy is sorely mistaken. You might not think that a movie about a code-braking machine would keep you on your toes – you’d be mistaken as The Imitation Game is tense from beginning to end.
Video: How’s it look?
I’m awestruck how good some of these movies look nowadays. I remember the days of VHS, LaserDisc and even DVD when things “looked” good, but looking back they really didn’t. I’m hard-pressed to look at this Blu-ray in a decade and say “Wow, what was I thinking – this looks horrible!” History aside, the 2.39:1 AVC HD image is perfect. I mean literally, I couldn’t find a thing wrong with it. Detail is amazing, the little numbers in the dials on the machine, the detail in the background…everything. Amazing. Black levels work well with contrast creating a very solid picture in every sense of the word. This is one of the better-looking live action movies I’ve seen on Blu-ray and it will not disappoint.
Audio: How’s it sound?
By and large, The Imitation Game isn’t one that will shake the room. There are a few scenes, however, that really do just that when the LFE get involved and the surrounds come into play. Vocals take front and center here, and they all sound strong and crisp. Cumberbatch’s performance carries the film, but his understated yet “confident” demeanor are conveyed by his voice. That said, the front stage handles the burden of the soundtrack, but I was amazed at how lifelike some of the sounds actually were. The little “clicks” in the machine and my head craning. It’s a very understated, yet effective DTS HD Master Audio mix.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Audio Commentary – Director Morten Tyldum and Screenwriter Graham Moore (who won an Academy Award for his work on this film) collaborate on this track. Admittedly, it can be a bit dry at times, but it’s chock full of some interesting tidbits and it’s clear that the efforts of these two men made the film what it is. It’s a nice listen, though I doubt I’ll ever listen to it again.
- The Making of The Imitation Game – Running a tad bit longer than most of these “Making of…” pieces, this features a pretty lengthy look at the real Alan Turing as well as some interviews with the cast and crew. It’s fairly interesting, admittedly.
- Deleted Scenes – Two total, though nothing of real substance.
- Q&A Highlights – This is three Q & A sessions from various film festivals that are shown in succession. Essentially the same topics are covered, but it’s a nice feature to have nonetheless.
- DVD/Digital HD Copy
The Bottom Line
Of all the Best Picture nominees I’ve seen, this one surprised me the most. I was expecting it to be another dry, “British” film but was surprised at how moved I was. Benedict Cumberbatch gives an amazing performance as does the supporting cast. The Blu-ray looks and sounds amazing and has enough features to warrant a purchase. Highly recommended.