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The Reviews Are In: Does 'The Imitation Game' Stand Out?

Here's what critics have to say.

What do you get when you take one part "Sherlock," one part real-life history, and a bunch of other stuff? "The Imitation Game," of course.

The new movie, out in select theaters today and starring Benedict Cumberbatch, follows English mathematician and all around smart dude Alan Turing, who played a major part in cracking the Enigma Code during World War II. Morten Tyldum, a relative unknown, directs Cumberbatch along with Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode in the drama.

So, did Cumberbatch and Co. crack the code? Here's what critics had to say about "The Imitation Game."

A document of today, almost a century ago

"The film’s sexual politics may be musty and retrograde, but in other respects, it is very much a document of the present. There are lines of dialogue that sound either anachronistic or — it may amount to the same thing — prophetic. It is thrilling and strange to hear the words “digital computer” uttered a half-century before any such thing existed, and when Turing says “think differently,” it is impossible not to hear a grammatically fastidious premonition of the once-ubiquitous Apple advertising slogan. Another sentence — a slightly clumsy invocation of the power of imagination — is repeated three times and sounds each time as if it had been plagiarized from a TED talk. More fundamentally, “The Imitation Game” is a parable of disruption. It not only provides an origin myth for the digital age, but it also projects the ideology of the present back into the past." -- A.O. Scott, The New York Times

A career highlight for Cumberbatch

"Good as he's been in the past, however, the richness and complexity of Turing's character make this portrayal of an arrogant, difficult, sure-of-himself individual the role of Cumberbatch's career. His performance makes Turing accessible, even palatable, and gives us a sense of how smart, how impossible, yet how finally human was this man whose idea of a compliment was to say, 'That is not an entirely terrible idea.'" -- Kenneth Turan, L.A. Times

Yes, another professorial biopic

"Although vaguely positioned as an Oscar-season contender thanks to its stars, its English period setting and its historical and cultural resonance, 'The Imitation Game' is forever doomed to be the other 2014 film about a famous Cambridge professor. I’m not sure it’s ultimately a worse movie than the Stephen Hawking biopic 'The Theory of Everything,' but it’s much closer to solid, capable British TV drama, and never makes much of a case for itself as a big-screen experience. As middlebrow, medium-impact melodrama goes, you could do worse." -- Andrew O'Hehir, Salon

Score for the score

"But 'The Imitation Game' is most on its game when it primarily sticks to being a John le Carre-lite espionage version of 'Revenge of the Nerds,' beginning in 1939 as it introduces a battleground of the mind that relies on superior intellect rather than bombs to beat the enemy. Norwegian director Morten Tyldum in his English-language debut provides just enough science to explain what is at stake while escalating the beat-the-clock tension involved in the mission conducted by Turing and a handful of other high-IQ cohorts. Alexandre Desplat’s hauntingly propulsive score further enhances the suspense while capturing the gravity of the situation." -- Susan Wloszczyna, RogerEbert.com