Dire straights. I actually watched my next ‘to be reviewed films’ several days ago. But as usual, life has got in the way. Meeting with friends, juggling assignments and trying to figure out my future. Internal breakdowns are commonplace. It’s not pleasant.
Anyway, the next two films on the list are Lucy and The Imitation Game, which were both pretty good, but for very different reasons.
A Weinstein Company Film, Directed by Morten Tyldum
Released: 25th December 2014
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard, Charles Dance, James Northcote and Mark Strong
Have you ever been so certain of something that you won’t accept anyone’s opinion to the contrary, no matter how practical they may be? The same can be said for Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game, where he plays the infamous scientist Alan Turing.
From the moment the film starts, Cumberbatch’s deep knowledgeable tones enforce a certain gravitas upon the screening. His narration is informative and the lack of true emotion in his voice is reminiscent of Sherlock and his sociopathic tendencies. It also helps set the tone of this bleak mid-20th century drama, and makes the switching between the twenties, forties and fifties much more sleeker.
To some, it may seem as if Cumberbatch is just repeating a performance, but in the Imitation Game, we see the actor portray a greater ignorance, awkwardness and innocence that makes it clear that the two characters are not just rehashes of one another. Here, Cumberbatch portrays a far softer genius; despite seeing that he is capable both physically and mentally, we feel protective of him throughout the film, even when he does things that other characters think to be unjustifiable. Likewise, Keira Knightley is similarly enthralling as the naive young Joan Clarke. She acts as a good mediator to Cumberbatch’s Turing; lifting him up in moments of obliviousness and granting him a true friend in the midst of both his personal and external struggles. The pair remain consistently captivating, and like Clarke, even when Turing has to make horrid decisions that toy with the lives of thousands, we still feel strongly for the protagonist.
The production was clearly aware of the raw star power they were throwing at this film, as the colour palette remain rather bland throughout; there is no visual spectacle to distract from the focus of the film which is very much character and social interaction.
What is even more impressive is the way that the film continuously twists advanced and complicated mathematics into something more akin to a game, as it allows the audience to be enthralled by a complex and diverse system by studying it in terms they understand. Which, frankly, is a stroke of genius in making this a true underdog story; it is essentially a tale of love’s lost and loneliness, and is surprisingly in keeping with the times, what with the debate on artificial intelligence and its dangerous new levels of capability.
With a bold plot, fantastic acting and some especially poignant underlying themes, The Imitation Game could perhaps be one of the finest films to grace our screens this past year. It’s definitely one of my new favourites.
A Universal Pictures Film, Directed by Luc Besson
Released: 25th July 2014
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Choi Min-sik, Arm Waked and Morgan Freeman
Review: Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Lucy.
Again supporting a fantastic cast and interesting premise, the film falls short on delivering a memorable story.
From the moment it hits our screens, Lucy is a beautiful thing to behold. The Asian city-scape paired with Johansson’s funky student wardrobe are both easy on the eyes, and Johansson’s laid back acting makes for a very empathetic protagonist. She is far more convincing here as a spunky student as opposed to the Russian super-spy guise through which she usually graces our scenes in the Marvel movies.
Unfortunately, even with the dulcet tones of the perfectly cast Morgan Freeman as a professor talking us through the possibilities of man, after the iniciting incident, it become incredible hard to find anything to connect with. Freeman essentially takes a back seat, only emerging to theorize what he believes is happening to the increasingly godlike Johansson, whilst the titular protagonist loses any humanity almost as soon as the powers kick in. There is no transition as she discovers her powers; she simply becomes a robotic super-powered being, and the effect is quite a jarring thing to watch. It takes half of what was good about the film, and ejects it a bit too fast for the audiences liking. Her coldness is portrayed admirably, but it doesn’t save the flick one bit.
Fortunately, as previously stated, the visual spectacle is really something. The colours are rich and vibrant, and the way Lucy interacts with her surroundings make the film a must-watch for that alone.
Like Tron: Legacy and Oblivion, Lucy is a sub-par story dressed up in some of the best eye-candy you’ve ever seen.
I’ll be honest though, compared to The Imitation Game, there isn’t really much else to say about Lucy.