Art Imitating Life
The Imitation Game Film Review
Part character study, and part exploration of the events surrounding the cracking of the Enigma, The Imitation Game largely gets the balance right despite sometimes taking an audience-friendly approach to the unquestionably tragic subject-matter.Slick and polished, and prepped for our Stateside cousins, on the one hand it’s quite a surprise that this poignant drama earned little more than a few Nominations when it came to the Oscars and, on the other hand, perhaps apt when you consider the lengths taken to make this a more palatable affair. Initially focussed far more on the heavily fictionalised Enigma thrills, the true dark core of the matter relates to Alan Turing himself, as he battles demons from inside and outside, and is ultimately rewarded for his service to the country by being chemically castrated for his outlawed homosexuality.Benedict Cumberbatch turns in an admittedly impressive performance as Turing, standing out amidst the familiar cast (Knightley also makes the most of her solo female contributor, whilst both Mark Strong and Charles Dance provide welcome scene-chewing cameos), however, given his career choices, it never feels like that much of a stretch for the man to play an eccentric, aloof, near friend-less (and possibly homosexual) genius, does it? If there’s one criticism, it’s that the film focuses more on the Hollywood-friendly code-cracking than on the tortured soul who ended up a broken wreck; a far more tragic story beneath the surface which arguably should have been brought into focus more readily – and which would have made for a far more distinctive biopic.
Blu-ray Picture QualityThe Imitation Game comes to UK shores courtesy of a Region B-locked package which promotes the feature with a 1080p/AVC-encoded high definition video presentation framed in the film’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen. It’s a very US-friendly film in visual stylisation, popping with vibrant colours and making the period pop with visuals that veer more towards the direction of impressiveness than authenticity.
Bletchley Park has probably never looked this good.
Close-ups reveal fantastic detail, with strong facial rendering, skin tones and texturing and lines, whilst clothing weaves and fabric appear rich and textured. Wider shots spring to life, whilst, for the first time in a while, there’s actually cause to talk about 3D pop as some of the characters practically come forth in separation of their backdrops. The colour scheme, as stated, is highly stylised, but does still appear steeped in rich UK locales, whilst black levels are strong and rich, allowing for strong shadow detail. It’s a surprisingly beautiful-looking movie – with even a couple of gorgeous sunsets thrown in for good measure – and it makes for welcome, warm demo material.
Blu-ray Sound QualityOn the aural front the accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is a strong mix, limited only – as you would expect – by the restrained material on offer. Dialogue is given keen presentation across the frontal array, with a subtle score undercutting the piece and giving it both quiet pause and some emotional heft when necessary, but never intruding on the proceedings.
Not exactly a demo offering, the accompanying audio still does a valiant effort with the material.
Effects provide some welcome atmosphere and ambience, with a little directionality and some surround usage, mostly coming to life through key setpieces and events, from the whirring of Turing’s machine to the newsreel war footage. It’s unlikely to ever be used as demo material, but it’s a faithful and decent representation of the material nonetheless. It’s worth noting that the disc defaults to the alternate LPCM 2.0 track.
Blu-ray ExtrasIn terms of extras, it’s mostly featurette-based, with Making The Imitation Game; Alan Turing: Man and Enigma; and The Heroes of Bletchley Park looking at the production, and recreating the period sets and setting; focussing on the genius himself; and dipping into the wider array of characters, with interview snippets from the cast and crew strewn across them. The disc is rounded off with some preview trailers.
The Imitation Game Blu-ray VerdictThere is a dark core to The Imitation Game, which hints at a more compelling tale about winning the war via a triage-style 'greater good' approach, and ruining the man whose efforts largely made it happen, but these elements merely flavour an otherwise quite glossy, Hollywood-friendly take on the usual 'cracking the code' tale that, for the most part, plays it quite safe.
Despite a strong cast and some great ideas hidden beneath, The Imitation Game still largely plays it safe for wider audience entertainment.
This Region B-locked UK release boasts excellent video and solid audio, as well as a decent selection of extra features, leaving this a must-have purchase for fans of the film and a strong package for those intent on a blind buy. Certainly worth seeing, majority opinion would suggest that you're likely to enjoy this well-made film, even if The Imitation Game does not quite reach the heights of greatness to which it aspires.
You can buy The Imitation Game on Blu-ray here
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