'Fahrenheit 451' doesn't catch fire with HBO adaptation

Proving you can't judge a book -- or movie -- by its cover, "Fahrenheit 451" turns out to be considerably less than t...

Posted: May 19, 2018 3:22 AM
Updated: May 19, 2018 3:22 AM

Proving you can't judge a book -- or movie -- by its cover, "Fahrenheit 451" turns out to be considerably less than the sum of its parts. Featuring the tantalizing tandem of Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon, this HBO movie adaptation of Ray Bradbury's dystopian novel grinds along sluggishly, eclipsed by similar visions ("The Handmaid's Tale," anyone?) and becoming one of those films that, alas, looked better on paper.

Published in the early 1950s, and previously turned into a 1966 movie directed by Francois Truffaut, "Fahrenheit" is seemingly helped by technological advancements that have made its futuristic world less fantastic, and thus more disquieting. Yet the notion of "firemen" whose job is to burn books and stamp out learning doesn't ignite in the way that director/co-writer Ramin Bahrani hoped, or carry the level of real-world relevance to which it clearly aspires.

Jordan's Montag is, initially, a true believer in his authoritarian mission. He's destined for a promotion by his boss, Captain Beatty (Shannon), who warns him that "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing," alluding to the threat of allowing all that book learning to "burst forth like mosquitos, carrying malaria."

Montag's eyes are opened, however, by his encounter with Clarisse (Sofia Boutella), who arouses his conscience, introducing him to books and an underground society devoted to disseminating them.

It's a slow burn, pardon the expression, from Montag's gradual awakening to his break from the comfortable if destructive life he's known, especially since the challenge he faces -- as presented here -- appears so overwhelming.

There remains something sobering in Bradbury's tale about leveraging ignorance as a kind of weapon, a means of keeping the masses manageable and docile. But a movie like "Fahrenheit 451" doesn't exist in a vacuum, and while Jordan couldn't be a whole lot hotter coming off "Creed" and "Black Panther" -- and Shannon, as always, proves intense in a villainous role -- there's been plenty of more compelling science fiction films in this vein over the last half-century.

HBO is selective about its original movies, operating within an enviable realm that allows the network to explore provocative concepts that fall between the demands of theatrical blockbusters and the financial limitations associated with independent film.

Combining cerebral sci-fi with movie-star leads, this handsome production would appear an ideal fit for that mandate. For whatever reason, though, "Fahrenheit 451" doesn't deliver the necessary spark, despite all the ways that the filmmakers would like you to read between the lines.

"Fahrenheit 451" premieres May 19 at 8 p.m. on HBO.

West Lafayette
Overcast
65° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 65°
Kokomo
Overcast
60° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 60°
Rensselaer
Broken Clouds
64° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 64°
Fowler
Broken Clouds
64° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 64°
Williamsport
Overcast
66° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 66°
Crawfordsville
Broken Clouds
67° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 67°
Frankfort
Overcast
65° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 65°
Delphi
Broken Clouds
65° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 65°
Monticello
Broken Clouds
65° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 65°
Logansport
Scattered Clouds
63° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 63°
Some more scattered rain with windy & cooler conditions.
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 119066

Reported Deaths: 3612
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion21563768
Lake10745324
Elkhart6734112
St. Joseph6679115
Allen6364205
Hamilton4965109
Vanderburgh384231
Hendricks2779124
Monroe267137
Tippecanoe259013
Johnson2362125
Clark226757
Porter222447
Delaware201162
Cass19589
Vigo187928
Madison171475
LaPorte151941
Warrick140743
Floyd140464
Howard133964
Kosciusko127117
Bartholomew119357
Marshall102124
Dubois100919
Boone99746
Grant96636
Hancock94843
Noble92932
Henry82226
Jackson77610
Wayne77314
Morgan73940
Shelby68329
Daviess68129
Dearborn67928
LaGrange64711
Clinton63414
Harrison59824
Putnam59011
Gibson5455
Knox5379
Lawrence51829
Montgomery51321
DeKalb49111
White48814
Decatur46139
Miami4394
Greene42936
Fayette42314
Jasper4032
Steuben3977
Scott39311
Posey3541
Sullivan33812
Jennings31712
Franklin31525
Clay3105
Ripley3108
Orange28724
Whitley2876
Carroll28013
Adams2773
Wabash2758
Starke2737
Washington2702
Wells2694
Spencer2683
Jefferson2523
Huntington2503
Fulton2462
Tipton22922
Randolph2238
Perry22213
Jay1920
Newton17411
Owen1711
Martin1690
Pike1691
Rush1584
Vermillion1320
Fountain1302
Blackford1223
Pulaski1141
Crawford1100
Parke1072
Brown1033
Benton860
Ohio797
Union790
Switzerland690
Warren411
Unassigned0227

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events