Just recently, HBO aired the new film Fahrenheit 451 inspired by the famous book by Ray Bradbury. This movie stars Michael B. Jordan as Montag and Michael Shannon as Beatty and also the beautiful Sofia Boutella as Clarisse. The movie is set in the future where books are banned and burned by Firefighters. I for one was really excited to see this not because of the actors in the movie, but because just a few months back before the movie was announced, my sister told me I should check out the book. So, I went on a journey to find the book. [Sidenote: I didn’t finish the book by the time this movie came out. I know…I know…I’m such a slow reader at times.] I was kind of trying to see if I could beat the premiere date and finish the book by the tie it aired. Well, that didn’t happen. But even still, when watching this film I still felt very connected to it. Here’s why.
Now I’m not the biggest Michael B. Jordan fan (and I will be the first to tell anyone that), but after his performance as Killmonger in Black Panther and also after checking out a movie called “Chronicle” that he was in, I think I got a little bit more on board with him. I’m a big Michael Shannon fan, though. He has a special skill with his monotone voice and frequently uses it to his own advantage when playing characters who lack depth or are trying to fight their emotions with logic.
The story starts off with Montag (Jordan) and Beatty (Shannon) having a discussion which then also turns into a friendly kind of fight to blow off some steam, when they then get a call that someone has been reading books or hoarding information to try and restore databases filled with books. We see that Montag and Beatty have a very close relationship but in a person-in-charge and second-in-command kind of way.
I truly loved the camera angle they used everytime the fire truck was going down the street, it kind of made you feel like you were riding along with them or were part of the action. As the Salamanders, which is what they are called, arrive at their destination, they break into the house to rally up and ruffle up the hackers. Montag finds the mega database, but this is also the first time we see him hesitate to burn something. Beatty finds him and ask why he hasn’t burned or destroyed the database, and Montag says “I was waiting for you”.
Montag’s Crisis: Now I won’t give a full review on this movie because there’s parts in here that could be spoilers, but I will say that Montag has basically known the fireman way his whole life. All he knows is burn, burn, burn. But recently something has been making him feel like there’s more to life than just burning these books, breaking into people’s homes and putting them away in jail or making them fugitives. Montag starts to question things, but he’s kind of afraid to ask Beatty who, even though they’ve known each other for years Beatty is still that hard nose do-things-by-the-book person. So he keeps to himself, until he meets and talks with Clarisse (Sofia Boutella).
Clarisse is a free thinker. She’s not afraid of what the law says, and feels like everyone needs to see beyond what society is thinking. She feels everyone is too stuck in society and they should take time to look at the sky and smell the night air, and even wonder why certain things happen the way they do; instead of monitoring everything and controlling it. Montag is skeptical of her, but in the book they become really good friends, while in the movie Clarisse is kind of like Montag’s escape and they become lovers almost. He ultimately sees that she has the right idea about life and how it should go.
Montag is still skeptical, but he soon comes is own beliefs. His turning point is after the Salamanders go and raid this woman’s house who has a massive library. Montag and Beatty have a conversation on why certain books got banned or why society is the way it is because of these books. This whole sequence changes Montag’s perception of everything that he’s been doing up to this point.
Now while watching this movie, I really started to realize this is what Harry Potter fans must feel like. I mean I love the Harry Potter movies, but I have only read a few pages of certain books. I know everyone reading this is probably thinking you are so behind. But while watching this movie I caught myself reciting lines, or already knowing what scene was next. The movie wasn’t predictable, but knowing how it’s going to play out is something else. Now I’ve seen multiple movies that have transformed from books to movies, and have said I am going to read the book, but never got around to it. This is one of the few times where I have actually read the book and got well into it to understand the premise of the movie and what was going on. I enjoyed just seeing what else and what direction they would go if they would use most of the book or throw it in kind of a modern way for the viewers to pick up on the movie.
Now before I watched this film, I saw a lot of mixed reviews. A lot of people who felt the movie kind of drifted from the book and put in it’s own things, but I mean every director and writer does that to not be exactly like the book or to put their own spin on a film. The directors and writers don’t want the movie to be totally predictable where you can’t enjoy it. Sometimes movies are predictable, but still enjoyable.
I thoroughly enjoyed this film. For many who do not know, this is one of the first major films out of Michael B. Jordan’s film production company that him and his partners have made and put out. It’s a good start for the company. But I also feel a lot more could’ve been done with the film. The pace was really fast in the movie. I don’t know if it was because of all the action or me being really into the book, but I noticed it. Movies that have a good pace really make you sometimes feel like you are engulfed in the film or you want more at the end, and I didn’t really feel that with this film.
I will make it my mission to finish this book, but Michael B. Jordan (even though I’m still skeptical of his acting) did a good job. Michael Shannon did great, and Sofia Boutella (wish she was in more movies) did great too. If you are still skeptical of this film, I say definitely give it a try and see for yourself, but also read the book. Ray Bradbury did great with creating this world and it almost kind of makes you wonder about back in the Holocaust days of all the books that were burned and how society would be today if that still occurred.
Riceball Rating: 7.5