“Imitation Game” is no imposter

By Tess Barnett, staff writer

In history class, we normally only learn about the events that changed the course of wars or nations. The life of those who commit these great acts and discoveries is rarely taught to students.

One such man is Alan Turing, who invented the machine that helped to win World War II for the allies. “The Imitation Game” is the story of this incredible man’s life.

My knowledge about Alan Turing before seeing the movie was slightly above average, and I was pleased to see that the writers and directors of the film had maintained a high degree of historical accuracy in portraying the work of Turing during World War II.

Alan Turing, a genius mathematician from Cambridge, was played by Benedict Cumberbatch, who also stars in the wildly popular “Sherlock” television series. In both roles, Cumberbatch is required to play a socially inept genius who solves other people’s problems for the fun of it.

The movie follows Turing’s adventures while working as head of a team in England whose job is to break the unbreakable enigma that will hopefully bring about the end of the war.

Turing is accompanied in his computer building by an oddity in the 1940s world of electronics: Joan Clarke, a woman who surpasses his puzzle-solving skills and is played by Kiera Knightley.

To me, the message of the film was the injustice that Turing faced after the end of the war. The audience witnesses his downward spiral after he is made into a criminal for being gay. Seeing a war hero ostracized for his sexual preferences revealed the naivete of ages gone by.

“The Imitation Game” is one of the best movies I have seen in my life. The actors, particularly Cumberbatch, portray their characters expertly and successfully tell the story of the amazing and brilliant Alan Turing.

“Unbroken” is broken

By Gavin Craig, staff writer

One of the typical filmmaker’s favorite things to do is to find an inspiring true story and bring it to theaters. Some of these films turn out great, and others just completely miss the mark. Sadly, the latter serves as a better description for the recently-released war drama film “Unbroken.”

The film tells the story of Louis Zamperini, an Italian-American who competed in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany, served in World War II and spent time in a Japanese prison camp. This brief synopsis alone makes “Unbroken” sound like a thrilling movie with a great story, but there are a lot of things in between the lines that drag the entire film down.

For starters, Zamperini, played by Jack O’Connell, was not an Olympic champion. He ran in one track event, finished eighth, and set a minorly important speed record. As for his time in World War II, he is only seen eating raw fish and birds from a life raft.The only remotely interesting part of the story comes when Zamperini is captured and sent to a Japanese prison camp. Here, we see the formation and evolution of the struggle between Zamperini and Mutsuhiro Watanabe, the Japanese corporal in charge of the prison camp.

Watanabe, played by Miyavi, is immensely envious of Zamperini’s status as an Olympic athlete, and sets out to punish him in every possible way. He eventually comes to respect Zamperini for both his physical and mental strength, but still seeks to break him, telling Zamperini that they could be friends if they were not on opposite sides of the war.

This forced me to wonder if Watanabe wanted to do what he was doing, or if he was just acting under the “just following orders” mentality, which raised questions in my head about war and what it does to those involved.

The entire ordeal, however, is grossly overshadowed by the endless scenes of Watanabe beating Zamperini with a heavy bamboo stick and torturing him in other ways, probably frustrated that he was unable to break the prisoners under his control.

The lessons that the film teaches about strength and perseverance are noteworthy, and the story between Zamperini and Watanabe is thought-provoking, but in the end, “Unbroken” is merely a disappointment.

 

Going “Into the Woods”

By Ian Carson, Managing Editor
Photo by Halee Evans

into the woodsPerhaps one of the best stage-to-film musicals I have seen yet, “Into the Woods” was no disappointment. With a cast that worked very well together, along with sheer talent, they put on a musical like none other.

Stage-to-film musicals are hard to accomplish in the first place, but when they are done well, they can really stand out. I would not go so far as to compare this to the film production of “Les Misérables,” which will always hold a special place in my heart, but it is definitely up there rank-wise.

The first thing that struck me about the movie was how talented the actors and actresses were. The acting was on par by all those involved. Lilla Crawford, who played Little Red, did an astounding job of singing. Her voice was always powerful and radiant, which is not exactly what one would expect from a child actress.

I must also give credit to Stephen Sondheim, who composed the music in the film. The orchestra always did a spectacular job of backing up the vocal parts; the music itself contained many melodic motifs throughout the musical.

The acting by all the parts was astounding. Meryl Streep, who played the Witch, did an wonderful job of showing the different sides of her character. Her portrayal was spot-on, and I could really see the depth of her character in her performance.

She was not the only one who stood out, however. James Corden as the Baker did a great job playing his character. I really felt like Corden became his character, and had no trouble at all playing his part.

Although mostly serious, the film did have its entertaining moments.

“My favorite song was ‘Agony’ because it really showed how the movie could have comical moments as well as serious ones,” said Katelyn Schuck, 11.

The set design and camera work was beautiful. Dion Bebe, who managed cinematography, did celestial work on her part of the film. The camera angles were always perfect, and she always knew just what sections to shoot. The set was as vibrant as ever, with a realistic and mysterious forest, along with a cute yet small village. This was a section of the film definitely worth mentioning.

The stage-to-film production of “Into the Woods” was a joy to see, although it deviated from the original musical in some instances. For example, this version contained a happier ending than the musical. I could not find anything wrong with this wonderful adaptation. I would give it 4 out of 5 stars.