416. Fahrenheit 451

 

★★

“Fahrenheit 451” feels less a movie and more a 90-minute-long, “as seen previously on” synopsis of a “Fahrenheit 451” mini-series. Production quality is at the same level of an HBO serial, which is frankly pretty high. But among its heavy-handed depictions of Dystopian-social media and uber disintellectualism,”Fahrenheit 451″feels shoe-horned to kick at the Trump era rather than reflecting the troubling times we’ve always lived in.

Based off the landmark novel by Ray Bradbury, “Fahrenheit 451” follows Guy Montag, played by the same “Black Panther” Killmonger guy, Michael B. Jordan. Guy is a fireman, who in the future are tasked with burning books instead of putting fires out. He reports to Captain Beatty, a stern, powerful, single-minded archetype that Michael Shannon has been playing almost exclusively since the early 2010s. Guy starts to question his beliefs after smuggling a banned book out of a criminal’s home and reading the soul-shattering prose inside: “I do not like them, Sam-I-Am, I do not like Green Eggs and Ham.”

Lol jk, I’m pretty sure what Guy read was something by Kafka, but regardless Guy is now hooked on phonics, devastated he’ll never know the joys of a Scholastic Book Fair or casting a robe and wand at a midnight-opening of one of the “Harry Potter” novels. Guy becomes intertwined with Clarisse (Sofia Boutella), a woman whose part of an underground organization where people memorize books from front-to-back in order to preserve them (our hearts go out to the poor soul tasked with memorizing the Dan Brown series).

The whole thing looks and feels like a side episode of “Westworld,” with the same types of shots, pans, and glossy, futuristic landscapes seen in the HBO series. Almost everything in “Fahrenheit 451” happens at night, inadvertently making us tired while watching. One could argue the reason that Guy is a boring character is because he doesn’t have a backstory, since information from his past has been wiped out. But even if a character doesn’t know their true origins, there’s ways to still make them interesting that “Fahrenheit 451” fails to consider.

But “Fahrenheit 451’s” biggest failure is that it sees the opportunity to reinvent Bradbury’s story through our semi-Dystopian times, but doesn’t realize what made our era destructive in the first place. In this “Fahrenheit 451,” its characters adhere to a centralized belief system, where Jesus, Football and the Declaration of Independence are rolled up into one, and that dissenting opinions or philosophies are damaging.

That sort of rings true with Fake News, social media and all that jazz, but really what makes us so capable of self-destruction in the 21st century isn’t our variety of opinions, but everyone’s unshakable stance that their specific opinion is right. The fact that each of “Fahrenheit 451’s” rebels devote themselves to one specific book is an irony that its creators are unable to recognize, immediately rendering this futuristic narrative as hopelessly prosaic.

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