The Imitation Game

Alan Turing’s is a story that must not slip away from collective memory, so it’s a good subject for a film. It concerns the life and achievements of the man who worked to try and break the encrypted messages from the nazis in WWII and his subsequent treatment by the country’s legal system.

There are some great performances here: Benedict Cumberbatch giving Alan Turing completeness and Alex Lawther as the young Alan heartbreaking in one scene in particular. Kiera Knightley is very good as well, but the stand-out performance for me has to be Charles Dance. He plays Commander Alastair Denniston, a man with high-ranking military confidence and reserve but with a foot stuck in the less complex world of conflicts of the past.

It uses an interesting 3-timeline structure but also feels like it has to inject excitement into the process of code deciphering and computer architecture. This leads it to take a few too many poetic licences with the story where they perhaps are not needed.

Worth watching if you’re not familiar with Turing’s tale and worth watching for the great performances.

3 on 5

Info
Directed by: Morten Tyldum
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Charles Dance, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard, Rory Kinnear UK Release: 14th November 2014

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Kick-Ass

Kick-Ass Poster

A Superhero film which is rooted in contemporary life, the premise here is a schoolkid in New York (but aged about 17/18) wonders why no-one ever aspires to be a Superhero rather than a Paris Hilton, so sets about it himself. It’s a British film, based on a British comic, but with a very Blockbuster feel about it.

It turns out to be a quite violent action comedy, fusing together Superman, Batman, Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Superbad. A lot of familiar comic book storylines and devices with a few changes here and there (one of the superheroes actually gets a girl for a change!) it is actually quite funny and enjoyable to watch. The narrative is not one you see entirely from the start and the characters are engaging, especially Hit Girl who is hilarious and deadly at the same time.

The music is also very good and a number of familiar songs are used well in the film rather than just stuck over the top (Prodigy’s Omen and the Banana Splits themes are two examples) and as the story becomes more gritty and menacing the soundtrack becomes a combination of ‘In the House In a Heartbeat’ versions (by John Murphy for ’28 Days Later’ originally).

But it’s visually that the film is most impressive. There’s no cutting every half a second, or shaking the camera to shorthand action or ridiculous lens flare. What there is are action scenes shot at a distance you can get an idea of what’s actually going on and see some of the action, there’s an animated comic book sequence for a back story that’s moving and 3d, there’s a fantastic scene with Nicholas Cage (or his stunt double) dispatching numerous people around a big warehouse following the character as a tracking shot.

It begins to sag a little in the final quarter and the plot device to usher in the last set-piece is a trifle awkwark, but that’s a minor criticism of a very good and enjoyable film.

4 on 5

Info
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Starring: Aaron Johnson, Nicolas Cage, Chloƫ Grace Moretz, Mark Strong, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Lyndsy Fonseca
UK Release: 26th March 2010