Film Review


Catch-22 looks like it was made to be a landmark film and win awards. It features an all-star cast and has great production values. So what happened? Most likely, it simply did not fit with the times, and in many ways it does look ahead of its time and does not really seem dated. Personally, I would prefer its production values over many films released today. The sound mix is great, featuring the tremendous roar of the B-25 bombers. The cinematography is excellent as well; it achieves a brilliant, whitewashed, effect which creates an aesthetic that fits with the absurd-nightmare-you-cannot-wake-up-from feeling of the story. Everything looks fine, sharp military uniforms and strategic maps give a sense of order, but you know that it is all wrong, bitterly wrong. For those that love wide aspect ratios and films that make full use of the big screen, Catch-22 does not disappoint there either. While there is not that much time given to battle scenes, there are a few, and the some of the effects used are absolutely amazing. The climatic bombing scene is spectacular with great pyrotechnics, as is an early crash landing scene. With so much excellent filmmaking, one wonders: what went wrong? The main difficulty many viewers will have will be with the plot. The plot is not central to the film, and if you try to follow it like a traditional plot then you are likely to feel confused, unless you have read the book. Catch-22 is more about mood, which shifts over the course of the film. We follow Yossarian through different episodes, and it does build to a climax, and there is a denoument, but the film does it in an unconventional, dreamlike way. Personally, I enjoy mood-based films and thought the action in the latter half works well, one gets more a sense why Yossarian cannot take it any more. The acting by Alan Arkin is quite fine and underappreciated. His Yossarian is trying to smile through his exasperation, and presents with a mixture of resignation and defiance. The supporting cast is fine as well. The higher ups are brazenly cynical. The crew are cheerfully detached. Both contrast well with Yossarian. The one strike against the performance is partly on the actors and partly on the screenwriting. In some places the lines do not sound natural, as part of the film, but rather they have a quality where you can tell they come from the book, and maybe they read well, but it sounds odd to hear the words spoken. But all-in-all, Catch-22 is a very good film. Recommended to anyone who loves the art of filmmaking and to those who like dark absurdist films (such as Network).

4.25 / 5.0

« selected reviews »

« new reviews »

« all reviews »