“We live in a time where people seem to be re-embracing the corrosive notion that what we want to be true is more important than what is true.”
— Craig Mazin, the writer and creator of Chernobyl
This is what it took to claw my attention away from a board game I’m designing. After being convinced to give it a watch by The Critical Drinker from cocksucking YouTube (and I will continue to use some derogative adjective, even a half-assed one that might not even be considered an adjective, to describe that site until things change or until it burns to the ground to pave way for better sites like BitChute or DailyMotion or something), I gave it a watch. I can recommend it, but with some serious caveats. Hey, if they want to make something based on a true story, they’re going to eat a serious shit sandwich from me, and approved by Jill Valentine, for anything not historically accurate about it that ticked me off. Especially from an event as big and serious as this, which had the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. franchise spawn from it, both the film and the game series, let alone Metro 2033.
Rated: 2 / 5
So they did it, they made a modern adaptation of the novel (itself I have reviewed). How is it compared to the novel? As in most novel-to-film adaptations, not as good. And it suffers from some of the problems that I feared it would. Yet does have some balls with some of the subject matter contained, which is something that is much needed today. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go as far with it as it should have, which is something the book did.
Oh, by the way, I will be spoiling both the book and the movie here. But I’ll be doing this review under the assumption that you’ve read the novel. Because if you haven’t, you should. Plus it’s a short book anyway.
Anyway, so the film is in a more modern, somewhat futuristic (by our present day standards) setting, with the only real technological advances being that video is shown along the entire outside of a building. So sort of like modern day New York, but more extreme than that. And it just doesn’t seem practical. You know how fucking difficult it is to keep something like that cleaned? What if it breaks? What if there are pixels that need to be repaired? Plus the film doesn’t do the one thing I was expecting it to do from a technological standpoint, and that’s having a living room with all the walls made out as television screens. Considering that was something not only in the main protagonist’s home in the novel, but also that it was considered common, and considering the film has entire skyscrapers that act as one big-ass tv screen, you would think the movie would’ve had that in it.
But I digress, it does have some nice modern touches to it, such as having an Alexa-like unit in most places, responding to questions, offering advice, and spying on you (even when you think you’ve shut it off). And it does have the whole “brainwashing kids in school” thing, though the film is being a bit devious about this by having law enforcement figures be shown doing the brainwashing (thus metaphorically saying, “Cops are bad, m’kay?”). And it does a bit of satire on social media, by having all the news stuff showing little facebook-like icons floating all around live feed bits, showing people’s reactions to them (in a far too simplistic manner in my opinion; The Orville did that better in one of its episodes, and I thought that show was mediocre).
But other than that, the film is just a typical by-the-numbers movie, rather boring at times, and not all that interesting. It doesn’t get across the important bits of wisdom as effectively as the novel did. Probably because it dumbs it down, which is rather ironic considering what the novel’s message is. The acting is decent, but none of the actors seem to have any real chemistry, and the relationships all come off as forced.
It also doesn’t help that our protagonist Montag, played by Michael B. Jordan (who’s casting has been met with some reservation by die-hard fans of the book, for reasons I’ll get into later), doesn’t have a wife in this adaptation, like he did in the novel. Instead, it opts to let him have a more close relationship with the captain of the fire team, a sort of father-son relationship (even though they’re not actually father and son), or sort of bromance, a comradery thing. This causes the film to suffer in a great way compared to the novel. For starters, the relationship in the novel demonstrates how isolated the husband and wife are from one another, how they don’t really love each other, how the wife is more into television shows and chatting with her friends about said-shows. The media creating a kind of isolation, something I pointed out as a danger to society in that film Suicide Club. And it shows just how far gone she really is, how much the way society is, the instant gratification mindset, the materialistic mindset, has led her to not care about Montag at all. It’s a symptom most in this society have (at least in the novel version), which showcases the overall problem on a smaller scale. We don’t get that in this film. Rather, it just does the typical totalitarian society ala 1984. Look, if you wanted to do a modern adaptation of 1984, then just do a modern fucking adaptation of 1984. Fahrenheit 451 isn’t supposed to be like that. It’s about how society has become its own worst enemy, rather than those in charge being the ones as the primary cause of the harm.
The other issue with the film is that these firemen (and I assume many in the society) take drugs via eyedrops, which I guess is supposed to suppress emotions and/or emotional memories. You know, like the drugs in the film Equilibrium. And none of that shit was in the novel either. So why did they do it? As I indicated in the last paragraph, it dumbs down the ideas in the novel. In the movie, they take drugs to make their job easier, to function in society with less emotion and less remorse. In the novel, members of society drifted into this direction without drugs because of the instant gratification mindset, because of the simplistic tv shows (doubtful they have full-length movies, considering the attention span). Sure, people took drugs in the book, but not for the same reason they do in the movie. It was mainly anti-depressants, a side-effect of becoming so isolated via technology and the lifestyle. Montag (in the novel) also has this mindset; he smiles and acts happy even though he isn’t. And he has been doing this for so long he has forgotten what true happiness is, and just assumes he really is happy even though he isn’t. This is not something the film contains within it, for anyone. Makes the film shallow and uninteresting.
In fact, the manner in which Montag gets an awakening from this mindset is also far different than in the novel. In the novel, he meets, by random chance, some little girl who acts carefree and different from everyone else. This is to highlight what the children are actually like, what they’re expected to be, and emphasizing an important quality that all humans should have, lest they lose semblance of meaning and happiness. Now, this little girl isn’t in the movie per-se, but there is an older substitute (otherwise I guess some would mistakenly assume Montag is a pedophile or something, because we can’t have adults having an innocent conversation with a child, in the middle of the night, alone on the street, with no one else around; the 50s were a more innocent time period). An older substitute that he eventually makes out with (well now that would just make the novel version awkward). The thing is though, she doesn’t awaken Montag to this way of thinking so much as she brings him in to the revolution. Yep, it all comes back to challenging the totalitarian pricks in power, as opposed to pointing out how society is flawed because of its own self-inflicted wounds. Again, why the fuck do this and call it Fahrenheit 451 as opposed to 1984?
Oh, and also, there’s no killer robot dog in this. Ah, whatever.
There’s also this strange plot development halfway through the film. The revolutionists, somehow someway, have utilized digitized versions of old novels and created an artificial DNA molecule that can be implanted into DNA. It’s not explained too well, but I guess the implication is that, once this spreads into more humans, it will eventually infect everyone with this DNA strand, and they will naturally know about all these books on an instinctual level. The more I think about it, the more dumb it seems compared to the ending plan in the novel, which was also far-fetched but at least seemed more achievable compared to this. Besides, this plan never made it to the human stage, it only got into a single bird species. How the fuck is it supposed to spread to humans? DNA spreading doesn’t cross-species like that! And even if it did, it would take so fucking long it wouldn’t even matter by the time it kicked in! The bird species might have died off by that point! Honestly, this would be one of those contexts where that speech Yoda makes in The Last Jedi would actually work (sure as shit didn’t work in that movie). Plus it all ignores the other plot element in the novel about the other danger to society being the way it is. Lack of compassion leads to not caring about impending doom to the point where no action is taken when a fucking missile blows up an entire city! I don’t know, maybe it was a budget thing.
Lastly, the main actor himself. He’s black. Some have an issue with this, and they’re not KKK members or neo-nazis. They take issue with this the same way they take issue with having the human torch from Fantastic Four being black in that one incarnation no one liked. Not accurate to the novel/comic. Now, personally, in this film’s case, I didn’t have a problem with it in terms of being faithful to the novel. But it is worth bringing up an element of the novel that I just knew this film wasn’t going to have the balls to do. The novel mentions that minorities are one of the potential faults in society. Not necessarily because minorities in of themselves are bad people so much as it’s easy to put the blame on them for when something goes wrong, like the stock market crash of 2008 or some shit like that (indicated in the film The Big Short). However, while they can be used as scapegoats for something they didn’t do, there are some bad things they are responsible for, and it’s addressed in a very brief manner that gives something for the reader to think about. And when this book was written, blacks were considered minorities. Today, many would still attribute that label to them. And considering the manner in which the captain has a conversation at certain points with Montag (in the novel), he addresses him as a white man, telling him how black men are (grouping them with other minorities). It’s not done bluntly, it’s on the more subtle side, but it’s there.
With that being said, I didn’t really give much of a shit about them changing the main protagonists race, he could be played by anyone (don’t push it with the sex change though, we’re already getting enough of that shit with Ghostbusters: Answer the Call and Ocean’s 8). But I do take issue with the intention behind it, and this is a thinking outside the box sort of thing that is inconsequential to the events that happen within the movie itself. It’s the same reason why all the villains are white, and why the leader of the revolution is a black lady. The whole subliminal thing of making blacks out to be the good guys, and whites out to be the bad guys (excluding Black Panther, where Michael B. Jordan played the villain, but that film is an exception). Another one of those films which we’re going to see much more of that take little jabs at the white guilt complex. It’s really petty stuff honestly. Did find it a bit strange that Montag was pretty much the only black guy on the fire team though.
But anyway, at the end of the day, the film is dull, a poor adaptation of the novel, and dumbs down if not altogether eliminates the important points made in the original source material. Plus I don’t think they had the budget to pull it off. It’s just not that interesting of a film, which is frustrating when it has such interesting subject matter. The potential is there, which makes it all the more tragic and infuriating that it has been wasted. The irony.
I used to enjoy John Oliver. I liked how he covered various topics that deserve to be covered that a lot of mainstream news wouldn’t cover. I liked some of the causes he took up to try and make the world a better place. And sometimes he was funny. I didn’t always agree with his more liberal (that’s not the right word to use for people like him, let’s just say democrat) stances, but I was willing to overlook those for everything else. But nowadays it’s just gotten way to politically biased, too skewed, and too condescending when the same complaints he makes can be turned on him. I’ve had enough, so now I’ve gotta get this pent up rage out of me.
The only positive I’ll give this episode is its covering of the Wells Fargo thing that’s been going on. But there were 2 other topic he covered that finally angered me enough to where I just had to respond. Probably going to stop watching his show if his next episode doesn’t shape up. And I know what some of you are thinking, “Oh come on, it’s a comedy show, he’s a comedian, he can be biased and unfair.” Which is true, but that doesn’t mean someone can’t call him out on his biased bullshit.
So he begins with the whole Charlotte incident, with police shooting a black man (so this becomes a #blacklivesmatter thing now), and the riots and looting that erupted from that incident. Oliver’s first point is that the police are not being transparent about the incident, not releasing the video, and makes a case for this by being biased, in that he only shows a portion of the interview with Charlotte police chief Kerr Putney to make his case. Transparency vs. releasing the videos to the public. Oliver stated that it’s hypocritical to claim to have a transparent status while not releasing the police footage, which is a fair point. But it’s also fair to mention that the chief stated they would only show the footage to the victim’s family, and not to the public, at least not right away (the footage was later released and is pretty much exactly what the chief said it was, bodycam footage that didn’t show anything the public hadn’t seen already). Now, I’m not sure if I agree with that or not, but it’s a fair gripe on Oliver’s part.
Where he takes a stance I disagree with is his response to a statement made by Rep. Robert Pittenger (Republican).
“The grievance of the mind is uh the animus, the anger, they hate white people because white people are successful and they’re not. I mean, yes, it is a welfare state. We have spent trillions of dollars on welfare, but we have put people in bondage, so that can’t be all that they are capable of being.”
Oliver replies, “Wow, that is some toxic stuff,” and goes on to state that this is racism being put on display here.
My reply to Oliver’s reply, is it racist if it’s true? Is North Carolina a welfare state? Is the black community being put in bondage by the system to where they rely on welfare? Are they jealous of the white community’s status? Because I have to tell ya, I’ve seen some convincing arguments that that is the case.
Dinesh D’Souza, for instance, argues that Democrats make laws and environments where they make black communities reliant on welfare and government-run programs to where they are no longer dependent and can’t live without it.
Hell, this same argument was made in the 90s in the film Higher Learning (1995).
And from other sources:
So no, you can’t just brush off Pittenger’s remark as just being racist and hateful when it’s just stating the obvious which fucktards like you, Mr. Oliver, choose to ignore.
Anyway, that’s one of two points Oliver covered that ticked me off. The other point is Hillary vs. Trump. To my surprise, he covered some of Hillary’s scandals. The problem is that he didn’t go anywhere near the depth with them as he did with Trump in the past, not even close. He brought up the Whitewater scandal, the Benghazi scandal, and a fictionalized Swiss File Transfer scandal that he made up just for a joke on the show. It’s funny he should fictionalize money/file transfers from a corporate entity, considering that’s pretty much what the entire film Clinton Cash covers.
Not to mention, just because the Clintons weren’t prosecuted on those scandals doesn’t mean they aren’t guilty of any wrongdoing, anymore than the idea that the justice system is fair.
By the way, a documentary also covers at least one bad thing Trump did in great detail, which I’m surprised Oliver hasn’t brought up yet, but it’s worth noting so that I can make it clear that I believe both candidates have major faults.
John Oliver then brings up the e-mail scandal which is still ongoing. He goes into it to some extent, but not enough. He failed to mention how she lied about the emails, how she released all the emails, but then more are found, how it demonstrated her lies about the Benghazi incident (“It was because of a youtube video! What difference does it make!”, said before an email showed that she knew it was a premeditated terrorist attack). And of course he mentions that, “She wasn’t charged with any criminal wrongdoing,” failing to mention the controversy with the head of the Department of Justice meeting with Bill Clinton and the potential conflict of interest that brought about, the silence from those who worked with/around her on her emails, the hindrance from other politicians, and how at the very least, even if there wasn’t any intentional criminal intent, that such negligence, lack of knowledge, and faulty memory would make her a poor choice for president. Besides, I’d like to see just how excusable of their innocence he becomes if Trump doesn’t get prosecuted for something he should be prosecuted for. I doubt he would be as lenient.
“It’s bad, but it’s not as bad as it looks.”
Blow it out your ass. Oliver didn’t cover a single goddamn thing from Clinton Cash. Plus, when he does bring up the Clinton Foundation, he fails to bring up a point brought up in the Hillary: The Movie documentary which mentions that the Clinton Library, located in Little Rock, has only released 0.5% of the documents contained with it, which goes against the Freedom of Information Act (much like the email scandal).
And Trump lies more than Hillary? Don’t make me laugh.
Don’t get me wrong, Trump has many faults, a lot of which are highlighted justifiably in past episodes of The Tonight Show with John Oliver, but it’s hypocritical to just cherry-pick the lighter wrongdoings of the side you favor. If you’re still going to favor Hillary over Trump, be aware of the ugliest things both sides have done, not just the worst of one side and a few fluffy things from the other.
“Great. Freedom of religion protects a bunch of murdering fanatics. And if these guys feel like blowing us off with a line of sermon there’s not a goddamn thing we can do about it. Back home the police would be shoving barb wire up their asses. No wonder they all come here.”
“America. A great place to live if you’re a terrorist.”
This movie is pretty damn eerie, considering it was released in 1997. It’s impossible to ignore the foreshadowings this film reeks of.
Man, the acting in this, it’s of a quality I’m not sure I’ve seen before. You know how there’s mellow serious downplayed acting? You know how there’s over-the-top overdramatic acting? The acting in this film somehow sits between both of those, slightly leaning towards the over-dramatic side. It’s, just, weird. I wanted to laugh at it, but it wasn’t quite over-dramatic enough to laugh at. Has anyone else seen a film where the acting is like that? Like it’s almost too goofy to be good, and almost too good to be goofy? It’s like they wanted to make this a 90s comic book style film, with some energetic comic acting like with Dick Tracey and Darkman, but they didn’t want to quite go that far. I’m not sure if the acting in this is down-to-Earth or overdone anymore than I’m sure of Tommy Wiseau being a human or an alien pretending to be human. It’s like if M. Night Shyamalan gave a little more effort into making his actors act like real people.
The direction and camerawork further supports my theory that the director was trying to shoot this film like a 90s comic book adaptation, with dramatic zoom-ins of the face at just the right moments, close-ups wide shots of faces during interviews.
But I’m not going to consider any of the above a con, because at the very least, it kept the film entertaining. Plus it was paced quite well. It has that great bit of dialogue I quoted at the top that would either make people shake their heads in agreement, sigh in dismay at it, or laugh at it. There’s a couple bits of dialogue that are like that which could create drastic different viewing experiences for each individual who watches it.
I did get an interesting idea from watching this movie though. They make movies about tense scenes disarming bombs. Can’t they make a movie about the tensity of guys creating bombs, knowing how things can go wrong and cause themselves to get killed in an explosion? Then again, I guess that wouldn’t be politically correct, because critics could make the argument that people shouldn’t be feeling tense during scenes like that because that indicates they don’t want to see an explosion go off that kills the bomb-makers. However, one could make the alternative argument that the tension is created from the hopes that they will mess up and blow themselves up, and so the viewer watches eagerly to see that happen. Either way, any audience member would feel tension from a scene like that. I guess the closest we have to something like that is Wages of Fear, and Sorcerer.
But anyway, I guess I’m not talking very much about the content of the movie itself. I’ll just say it’s a good solid prequel to the film The Path to 9/11, which can be watched right after this one for chronological viewing. It chronicles the events from the 1990 assassination of a radical jew leader and how it’s connected to the terrorists who would later go on to bomb the world trade center in 1993, goes through the actual bombing, further plots that they had for bombings in or around New York (such as the Holland Tunnel), and ends with the arrest of the blind asshole sheik and several of his conspirators. It’s a solid entertaining watch. Have to admit though, the actual bombing sequence was pulled off better in The Path to 9/11. But it does expand on events leading up to it that The Path to 9/11 only glosses over, especially the blind sheik. But it demonstrates the same thing that the other film did, showing lack of communication and/or cooperation between FBI, CIA, and other government agencies and law enforcement which creates such frustration. It’s interesting listening to some of the conversations that go on in this film, considering that this was made prior to 9/11, and how eerie some of it gets.