A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The ultimate message of the film is sacrificing one's self for the greater good, but the journey to that point is messy.
Positive Role Models
As Guy discovers that everything he has been told and taught about the world has been a lie, he learns how to make brave, selfless choices to improve the lives of others.
Violence & Scariness
The firemen spend most of their time destroying things -- books, computers, buildings. Several people are burned alive, either by suicide or murder. There's a boxing match at the beginning and fistfights throughout.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Guy Montag has a relationship with Clarisse, but we only see them kiss.
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Some infrequent cursing ("f--king," "f--k," "s--t").
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The firemen are drinkers and seem to spend a lot of time in bars. There's also a commonly used (fictional) drug that erases people's memories.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Fahrenheit 451 stars Michael B. Jordan and is a loose adaptation of the classic Ray Bradbury novel. There's a bit of overt sexuality and strong language, but the latter seems mostly incidental (it feels improvised by the actors, rather than emphasized in the script), so HBO likely intended for the adaptation to be seen by teens. The film does make a big deal about fire: The main characters are "firemen," but rather than putting out fires, they carry blowtorches that allow them to eradicate any cultural material (books, films, music, and electronics) that the government deems dangerous to the population. The firemen use their weapons to show off in classrooms, punish criminals, and destroy property -- and the film makes setting these fires look very cool. Fire is also used to kill people throughout the film. The movie takes major liberties with the book's plot, making substantial changes that end up muddying the message and blunting the impact of the original story. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This fiery book-based tale had potential, but this adaptation ultimately ends up as soggy as can be. "Who controls information?" is a prevalent question in America in 2018, whether it's applied toward cable news, social media, or government. So it's easy to see why the creators of this version of Fahrenheit 451 have seen parallels between Bradbury's allegorical novel and our present society. But after some chilling opening scenes where firemen Beatty (Shannon) and Montag (Jordan) indoctrinate a class of young children into believing that reading books can make you crazy, the director fails at even simply telling a cogent story, let alone a resonant one.
Fahrenheit 451 spends a lot of time on mundane aesthetics: a futuristic world lifted wholesale from Blade Runner 2049, terrible special effects (mostly just different types of screens), and showing how fun it is to burn things. But the film takes its characters for granted. The steps in Montag's turn from wolfish fireman to literate rebel are difficult to track, and there's confusion as to Beatty's motivations throughout -- he seems to have some hidden depths but turns out to just be a two-dimensional villain. With no one to really root for here, and tons of contradictions in the setup, the premise itself falls apart under its own weight.
Did we miss something on diversity?
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