The Social Network (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Facebook. Heard of it? Odds are that if you’re reading this review you’ve either come from Facebook or will visit there shortly. It’s a fact. It’s hard to believe that only seven years ago Facebook was but a mere thought in Mark Zuckerberg’s head and now it’s something that world literally relies on. Amazing. The thing about the internet (and this door swings both ways) is that everyone is connected, so getting an idea, picture or anything else to someone is a snap. But it’s the networking part of things that can make or break you. We’ve all received forwarded emails with a funny picture or video that we forward to our family and friends. Facebook is pretty much that, plus a lot more. For those that think this is “the Facebook movie” are only half right. Yes, this does deal with the inception of Facebook and the early stages of how it came to be, but it’s a lot more than that. It’s a work of fiction and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin has taken some pretty generous liberties with the story. So if you want a step by step account of Facebook, check this out. But if you’re looking for a superb movie, then read on.

It’s the Fall of 2003 and Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) has just been broken up with. He heads back to his dorm room at Harvard University, cracks another beer and starts blogging about her. And then…it hits him. He quickly hacks the other dorms on campus and compiles a database of pictures of all the females. He sends links to his friends and they vote on who’s better-looking. In a strange sort of way, this is how Facebook was born. We’re brought through the early steps of the development and Mark’s friend and future CFO of Facebook, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) as he financially backs the startup company. Mark is then approached by three upper classmen with an idea called “Harvard Connect” in which he’s to build a site (much like Facebook) for these three gentlemen. He leads them on and instead continues development of Facebook (then called “The Facebook”). The movie is told in flashback form as Mark is in the process of two courtroom proceedings. Yes, he’s being sued by his best friend and the three classmates who claim that he stole their idea. As Mark so eloquently puts it “If you’d have come up with the idea of Facebook, you’d have invented Facebook.”

Few movies really like up to the hype that surrounds them, but I think “The Social Network” is one of the rare exceptions to the rule. Sharply written and crafted by Aaron Sorkin and expertly directed by David Fincher (who is usually known for much darker works like “Se7en” and “Fight Club”), “The Social Network” manages to tell the tale and keep us interested for the entire 120 minutes. Zuckerberg is played to near perfection by Eisenberg who, until now, I thought was a clone of Michael Cera. Clearly I was wrong in my judgment. And, ironically enough, Eisenberg’s character in the movie “Zombieland” had a quote that mentioned how glad he was that he no longer had to make updates to his Facebook status (now that the world was rid of people). “The Social Network” manages to be smart, sharp and witty without being pretentious and come Oscar time, we might really see the impact of this film.

Video: How does it look?

The 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer for “The Social Network” is just as we might expect, sharp and well-defined. The majority of the mood of the film is dark, it takes place in dorm rooms and later a house in California. The color palette used is very muted, though it still manages to look very natural. Clarity is right up there and we can even see so much detail it allowed me to find a glaring continuity error: Zuckerberg’s computer has Windows 7 installed whereas in 2003 it should have been Windows XP. Flesh tones seem normal, contrast is perfect and all things considered it’s just as we’d expect for a movie that’s new to the format.

Audio: How does it sound?

If you’d have told me fifteen years ago that the lead singer for Nine Inch Nails (Trent Reznor) would be doing the score for a movie about a web site I’d have told you that you were crazy. Still it’s Reznor’s understated, organtic score that really sets the mood for the film. As he mentions, it’s not something that we wanted to be perfect and an exact digital representation. In many ways it was kind of “messy” if you will. The majority of the film is dialogue-driven and if you can keep up with Eisenberg’s motor mouth, you’ll do fine. There is one key scene in a nightclub that really makes use of the speakers and the LFE in particular. Aside from that, it’s a great overall soundtrack and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Trent Reznor pick up an Oscar for his score.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This two disc Blu-ray set has a sampling of supplements but I think I feel a more robust edition in the future. Still, the first disc gives us the film as well as a pair of commentary tracks. The first is with director David Fincher. I’m a fan of Fincher’s tracks and have listened to them on several other films and he delivers yet again here. He’s got plenty of information on the shoot, the script and the actors involved with the project. The second track is a bit more fun to listen to as it contains screenwriter and the ensemble cast. I’ve never been too much of a fan of Sorkin personally, but he is very articulate and delivers a good track. The cast doesn’t seem to get too involved, but does step in from time to time and adds some information.

Moving onto the second disc we find a bevy of featurettes and we start out with a documentary aptly-titled “How Did They Ever Make a Movie of Facebook?” We get some information about the score of the film, the screenwriting, the visual effects used within and the physical locations used for shooting (Boston and Los Angeles). There’s also a brief segment on the “Swamatron”, the custom made tool that Reznor used to make the score. It’s an interesting and unique little device. There’s also a multi-angle feature that breaks down a single scene.

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