The Social Network Review

Published 5 years ago by , Updated February 10th, 2012 at 10:55 am,

the social network image3 The Social Network Review

Screen Rant’s Kofi Outlaw Reviews The Social Network

Facebook is a social media giant that has indisputably changed the world, affecting everything from how people share their lives, to how people market, promote and sell businesses, products and even their own talents. In fact, Facebook is so prevalent in our modern digital age that it even has the power to change the topography of culture, pop-culture, art, politics, and in rare cases, even religion.

Given that Facebook is what it is today, I must admit that it’s somewhat surprising that it has taken this long for a movie to be made about its origins. And while that movie, The Social Network, is an interesting and visually rich exploration of the events that led up to arguably the most influential invention of a generation, a lackluster ending and overall feeling of pointlessness mark it well short of being the film which defines a generation.

By now the basic story behind the invention of Facebook is pretty well known: In 2003, Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) came up with an idea: take the entire social experience of Harvard and turn it into a comprehensive website in a way that other sites like MySpace and Friendster had never envisioned. Along with two of his programmer pals, and his best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) supplying the startup capital, Zuckerberg created “The Facebook,” an early blueprint of what would eventually become the social networking Juggernaut we know today.

Of course with any rose of an idea come thorns, and Zuckerberg’s meteoric rise to fame (and infamy) comes at the cost of multiple legal skirmishes and shattered personal relationships. Being at the forefront of a trend can be be a lonely experience.

There is a lot about The Social Network that is impressive. The film was directed by David Fincher, the man behind some great pieces of cinema such as Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac, and the Oscar-nominated Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Fincher fans generally know and love the acclaimed director for his three main signatures: a perfectionist attitude, impeccable camerawork and his dark yet vividly-colored cinematography. All three of those Fincher signatures can be found in The Social Network, offering viewers a feast for the eye. The early scenes set in Harvard are by far the most gorgeous, taking the historic university and giving it an edgy, dark, rock video sheen. I’m fairly sure Harvard has never looked so cool.

the social network image9 The Social Network Review

Fincher (with help from his screenwriter, Aaron Sorkin) structures the film in way that’s somewhat surprising, yet at the same time refreshing and clever. Most memoir films are pretty linear in form (beginning of the event, up until the thematic climax), however The Social Network takes another approach. At first it seems as though we’re getting the standard beginning-to-end structure, but around the 20-30 minute mark the film suddenly begins to jump around in space and time, showing Zuckerberg caught up in the midst of various legal battles.

It’s a bit jarring at first, until Fincher eases us into the realization that it’s actually the conversations in these legal depositions that are driving the story. Lawyers ask questions, and the answers lead to flashbacks about Facebook’s inception; what is revealed in those flashbacks lead to further legal questions which jump us  yet again to one deposition or another, as Zuckerberg tries to defend “his creation” from various attackers. It sounds more confusing than it actually is; in the hands of a skilled orchestrator like Fincher, this unique structure works to the movie’s benefit, adding a sense of movement to what could’ve been a boring film, otherwise.

The Social Network Jesse Eisenberg The Social Network Review

The performances are pretty spectacular – especially those of the two leads, Eisenberg and Garfield. Eisenberg has been tagged in some circles as “the other Michael Cera,” referring to the latter actor’s penchant for playing the loveable nerd in virtually every role he takes on. This is not at all true for Eisenberg, who portrays Mark Zuckerberg as something of a tragically ironic figure: an acerbic genius who is totally clueless when it comes to human interaction; a guy who earns fortune and fame off a website dedicated to social circling, but has very few “real friends” to call his own.

Eisenberg flat-out steals just about every scene he’s in, glaring at people around him like they are nitwits, while delivering scathing insights that could make a person feel that very way. A definite standout performance that is worthy of recognition (provided people don’t find his character too unlikable).

the social network image5 The Social Network Review

Andrew Garfield is a fast-rising star: he’s already been tapped as the new Spider-Man in Sony’s reboot of that franchise, and he has another prestige picture, Never Let Me Go, due out this fall. Here, Garfield plays a near-perfect straight man foil to Eisenberg’s eccentric genius. Eduardo Saverin is the type of smart kid who (ironically enough) prefers the actual social experience of college to sitting in dim-lit dorm rooms creating an online imitation of it. Garfield successfully builds Saverin into a three-dimensional character with a range of a emotions, a slightly naive kid caught up in a gold rush that is moving way too fast for him (or anyone) to keep ahead of.

The scenes of Saverin and Zuckerberg in their happy days at Harvard juxtapose well to the later days when they’re ultimately sitting across the table from one another, talking through lawyers.  The climatic scene of their falling out actually packs some emotional punch, which is a credit that goes directly to the talents of both young men.

the social network image7 The Social Network Review

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker, the inventor of Napster who eventually partners with Zuckerberg to transform Facebook into the behemoth it is today. Timberlake manages to shed his celebrity image and slip into his role pretty well, portraying Parker as an extremely savvy businessman who is simultaneously chock full of B.S.. All in all, Timberlake continues to prove that he is not the joke of an actor some people may want to label him as.

Continue to the disappointing aspects of The Social Network

Our Rating:

4 out of 5

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  1. Thanks for the review Kofi. Been waiting for this for a while. Wanna see this so bad. But i have one question : why does everyone leave out alien 3 in finchers filmogrophy?

    • Because that movie sucks (at least in my opinion is the worst alien movie)

      • Have you seen the assembly cut? Makes way more sense. Plus fincher got screwed with everything on that film. The theatrical cut is horrible, the only one to watch is the assembly cut.

        • No, I didn’t know about it, I will watch it, thanks

      • ‘Alien 3′ is decent. If any is the worst in the series it’s ‘Alien Ressurection’ easily.

        As for the movie, I’ll wait and see it on DVD.

        • Ressurection was so bad. At least alien 3 didn’t try to make a black comedy out of it, which is what they tried to do with A.R.

          • The only thing I liked about AR was Ron Perlman, even Weaver sucked it that film.

            • Matt
              You ever read boss whedons original script? Way different from the film. No wonder he hates it.

              • Joss not boss, stupid droid x predictive text…

                • I completely agree that Weaver suck in AR, her dialogues were so bad but anyway I enjoy the film more than the third one (just my opinion)

                • Dude? Joss Whedon is still the same as “Boss Whedon.” :-)

                  • I thought he was mashing up Boss Hog & Joss Whedon :)

  2. I have to admit that I’m shocked by how many good reviews this is getting. Fincher is a great director but in all honesty I have no desire to see this. Nothing about this movie seems interesting to me. I can tell from the trailers that parts are cliche and I know how all this ends so I just don’t see the point in paying to see this. Now I’m not saying that the acting is crap or anything. I haven’t seen the movie. Its just really suprising to me at how many good reviews this is getting.

    • Well of course we know how its going to end, its a biopic lol! Fincher just has a sweet style he delivers with each film he does. We all new how zodiac was going to end too :)

  3. “a lackluster ending and overall feeling of pointlessness”

    I do hope someone recognizes the irony of this statement.

    • I would say that an overall feeling of pointlessness exactly defines this generation. The ending for any person unable to connect with and trust others will always be lackluster. Duh.

  4. Great review Kofi. I absolutely LOVE Fincher & Sorkin. Not to mention the soundtrack is by one of my idols, Trent Reznor. I can NOT wait to see this.

    I have to say something real quick.. Eisenberg > Cera.
    Eisenberg at this point is way ahead of Cera. Look at their IMDB pages and notice that Cera’s better projects were in the beginning of his career and his worst ones are in the end. Eisenberg has pretty much the opposite, but the majority of his film are great.

    And Zombieland is better than Superbad haha.

    But, anyway I can’t wait to see this along with Wall Street 2 and the Legend of the Guardians. Also, I still have to see The Town & Devil.

  5. I love that they set out to do what Myspace hadn’t and yet they simply copied myspace and offered nothing new that myspace wasn’t already offering and then with every new myspace feature Facebook would just add it to their site and copy some more.

    Anyway no interest in this film. It looks so pointless. I have a hard time caring about an over dramatization of a bunch of uncreative guys who just copied an already established idea. Next up the Verizon Droid movie followed shortly by the Sega Genesis film. Followed shortly by the riverting oscar worthy drama about an upstart website called eHarmony about a small upstart site that tries to captalize on the success of who had been out for 7 years before them.

  6. There is absolutely no way I’ll ever pay $15 to see this stupid movie. Facebook? Timberlake? I don’t swallow a lot of this review for some reason and I don’t wanna watch it just to prove it wrong. Everything about it just seems and feels wrong.

    • You have to pay 15 bucks to see a movie? Are you seeing it in Imax or something?

  7. I wanna see this but on rental ive wanted to see it for a long time but i changed my mind it doesnt look that good.

    • Rickster!
      This is the guy who did se7en and fight club and zodiac! Im gonna see it today. I’ll let you know if its good.

  8. Alien Resurrection was GREAT!!! Think of it this way. The series was dead without Ripley. It could have gone on, but would anyone really have wanted it to? “Not I”

    What this hads to do with Facebook… I do not know.

    • The guy who directed this movie directed Alien 3.

  9. Wait a minute, I thought that this was a 3.fiver? Now it’s a four :\

  10. Our comments are stupid? Good one. Nice screen name btw…you don’t like the review then go somewhere else. I for one am excited about this pic, so maybe you should read the comments again and then come back and tell me what’s stupid. People are aloud opinions.

  11. Really smart review here, but this is the second reviewer I’ve come across that argues the film lacks a ‘point.’ Maybe this is the need to find a flaw in an otherwise extremely smart, fast paced and entertaining film– I’m not sure what else audiences expect– a life altering spiritual revelation upon closing credits? I feel the film presents a great, if well trodden theme, which the reviewer mentions; pursuit of fortune can mean the loss of friends. But I feel the reviewer is missing the real ‘point,’ because with this film, it’s for the audience themselves to decide the point… not to be told.

    • You’re the best!

    • Oh, and my screen name isn’t directed at you. I know, it’s stupid.

    • To the reviewer and all those who think this film doesn’t have a point: just imagine saying that to the film’s lead character, and imagine what his response might be, and the tone of voice he would use, and the look you would get from him. That’s what I’m thinking about you right now.

      • Ok. Great. Did you also invent something that made $25 billion dollars?

        All jokes aside, I still think any point being made in this film is a premature and somewhat shallow one. Time will either prove me right or wrong about that, but it was how I felt coming out of this film – which I liked overall, BTW.

      • Mellybee,

        That’s a very interesting comment considering his almost complete lack of personality and social skills.


  12. @ You’re an idiot

    He gives both positive and negative aspects and it was fairly even. Also at first the review was a 3.5 not a 4. No idea why he randomly changed it, but that would explain why it was more negative than you think a 4 should be.

    So because people don’t like this or don’t think it looks good they are stupid ? That’s pathetic.

    You’ve read nothing but universal praise? I’ll pretend I’m shocked. There are very few reviews out yet and most movies tend to start out over overwhelmingly positive.

    If you think the movie is great hey all the power to you. Not everyone else is going to agree with you. Accept that and stop calling everyone an idiot. Go log in to facebook and waste your day with updates on how awesome the movie about ripping off other sites is.

    • I talked Kofi into raising the rating from 3.5 to 4 because I felt that reading his review the negatives didn’t justify such a low rating. The negatives were really along the lines of saying that the entire film wasn’t incredible – that parts of it were just conventional. Not BAD, just conventional. So that’s why the rating was bumped up.

      The negatives are more like knocking some score off it being perfect, not slamming it because it’s not a great movie.

      Oh, and idiot guy, you’re flagged for auto-moderation. Prove to me you can leave civil comments without calling people stupid and dropping f-bombs, and you’ll be welcome to add to the conversation.


      • Really? That’s great because I have a few other e-mails and screen names that I can use to be able to post comments, so how wonderful it is that you have all the power to flag me. And I said that people were stupid who were writing off this movie as “a movie about a site that stole ideas from other sites” before even seeing it. So, I commend your judgement skills. As for the ONE f-bomb, I apologize for so passionately displaying my opinion. That civil enough for ya?

        • UpInTheAir,

          I let this one through because you’re defending yourself and you’re explaining your reason for the previous comments. I understand getting passionate about a movie and mad at folks who write it off sight unseen, but around here we try to behave in a respectful manner even to those who disagree with us.

          If you think that makes me some kind of censor or comment moderation nazi, so be it – but we have a great discussion site here and we work hard to keep it that way. You sound like a guy who loves movies and people like you are welcome here.

          Much better name, BTW. 8)

          Best regards,


          • Thank you, and I don’t think of you in that way at all. I actually have a ton of respect for you guys above any other movie site, and, again, I am sorry for all of the negative emotions I have caused on this discussion board. :)

            • UpInTheAir,

              No worries. You’re off auto-mod.

              Best regards,


          • Your a funny guy Vic. I’ll try to be good too…. Can’t make no promises though as I’m a pasionate man (lol)…. pasionate man… still can’t say that without laughing.

  13. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and i love this website and only recently started posting. But i actually got a preview screening of this on the 23rd and i thought it was phenomenal. I had no interest in seeing it but they let us see it for free so i figured why not. The movie turned out to be fantastic and while i would not say it’s a 5 i would give it a 4.5 with Eisenberg leading the cast with a brilliant perfomance. Either way, if you have an interest or not, i would say go see it because it really was that enjoyable, which sounds weird coming from a movie about facebook but it is true. Either way i thought it was great and well worth the oscar buzz, at least for the actors.

  14. I hate Facebook. I loved Eisenberg in Zombieland. I’ll probably watch TSN in about five years when there is a billion sites like Facebook and the generation being spoken of is trying to pay for healthcare while Mexico invades the US, ha.

  15. This movie is riveting from start to finish,

  16. Vic
    So if u put someone in auto moderation that means you read their comments before it enters the site right?!

    Hey so how was the movie?

    • Rickster,

      That is correct.


  17. When I first heard David Fincher was directing a movie about the founding of Facebook I was incredibly puzzled – what in the world would compel the guy who made “Seven,” “Fight Club” and “Zodiac” to take on this story? I then read the book the film is based upon, ‘The Accidental Billionaires’ by Ben Mezrich. About a third of the way into the book it became crystal clear why the material is such a perfect fit for Fincher. Facebook ‘founder’ Mark Zuckerberg is as much of a narcissistic sociopath as John Doe was in “Seven” and the killer was in “Zodiac.” The difference is that instead of using a knife or gun, Zuckerberg uses a computer. In researching Zuckerberg in the press, its shocking to find that his own actions and e-mails document his unethical and disturbing behavior and beliefs as depicted in the film. Aaron Sorkin’s script takes the facts of Zuckerberg and the Facebook story and sculpts a complex psychological character study very much in the vein of “Seven” and “Zodiac.” Fincher has cast the film perfectly. Jesse Eisenberg’s performance conveys the damage and inhumanity that emerges from individuals with antisocial personality disorders. Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer, Max Minghella and Josh Pence capture just how naïve and self-entitled the Harvard students who Zuckerberg manipulated were. Ultimately, “The Social Network” is not about Facebook – the actual Facebook logo, page and graphics do not even appear in the film until the last scene. Facebook is simply the MacGuffin of the film – the product and intellectual properties the characters battle over could have been legos, post-its, even matchbooks. ‘The Social Network’ is the story of what we as a global culture now value above all else –money and power. It no longer matters if one attains it through lies, deceit, betrayal and narcissistic motivations. The true horror Fincher captures with the film is that in the 21st century, someone like Zuckerberg is viewed as a success and hero because he attained wealth and power through ‘hacking’ – circumventing and disregarding laws, morals and the privacy of others. ‘The Social Network’ is a cautionary tale, one that will be lost on a generation that is no longer taught ‘just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should.’

    • @ Ted

      That’s a good analysis, and certainly gives the movie a whole new dimension of meaning.

      However, thinking back about the movie I find it hard to justify that analysis based on what the film shows.

      One thing that stands out in contradiction is Zuckerberg’s reluctance to monetize the site at first – hey was doing this for ego and personal reasons (to be cool and have better social standing) rather than greed. He was a kid who inadvertently changed the world for petty reasons. The whole scene with Eisenberg and Timberlake (as Sean Parker talking about why he founded Napster) speaks to that.

      In fact, one major issue I had with the film is that it didn’t really tell you with any certainty when exactly Zuckerberg turned the corner and started seeing dollar signs and got greedy enough to betray his best friend. It just kind of…happens. We never know what motivated the betrayal or what turn of character made it happen, which is why I believe the ending of the film was mishandled.

      However, as I said your analysis is interesting and adds some interesting dimensions and philosophical quandary to the film.

      • Your comments here really demonstrate just how complex Fincher has made this character. It’s refreshing to read a film site where the reader is not only prompted to think, but learns and gains incite through the ‘talk back’ feature. Screenrant is always a hopeful daily dose of film sanity – people who love movies and love to think.

      • Betraying his friend wasn’t about greed, it was about envy. It was clear throughout the film that Zuckerberg was rabidly jealous of the social ease that his Saverin possessed, and the club invitation. The “betrayal” is more complicated than simple black and white, because Zuckerberg warns Saverin many times in the film that his focus is not where it needs to be. Pathological as the character is, he has an unerring instinct for what is current. He wants Saverin to have that instinct too, but he doesn’t. Is the film implying that you must be pathological to have that instinct, and that normally socially functioning people don’t have the time, energy and resentment-fueled drive required to be geniuses? Maybe.

  18. Vic

    Ok then thats cool. Hey u should have like something that tells u everytime they(US) use the name vic so u can check out any questions/comments they(US) may ask!!!

  19. Screen Rant crashes my @#^$W@$%&@ computer!!!

    Every time I visit your site Firefox crashes. No other website on the entire internet does this.

    • Max,

      Sorry, bud – been trying to figure out the cause of this for months and it’s still a mystery.

      I can tell you that I’ve NEVER had it crash yet using Firefox 4.0 Beta, so I’m looking forward to that getting rolled out.


  20. It crashes your web browser not your computer believe me there is a difference.

  21. This film is terrible. If you know your film history you’ll find that a version of this film has already been released about 15 years ago. I say same version, what I should say is SAME SCRIPT, but obviously they have made a few changes. Don’t quote me on this but I’m sure that story was to do with Bill Gates and the Microsoft beginings. Exactly the same story (well almost). I think they expect the brand FACEBOOK to make people want to watch it, and I suppose most people will watch for that reason. But to just re-hash an old script for another lame film is just really pathetic. Could they not afford to pay script writers? or was Tip-Ex and an eraser just cheaper?

    Honestly can’t believe no one spotted that but me. Pretty lame really and one of the reasons I won’t be watching this film.

    • Paul, I haven’t seen The Social Network yet, but I presume you’re talking about Pirates Of Silicon Valley from ’99. If neither film essentially just concocted scenes out of thin air, (and I know Pirates was fairly extensively researched), then certain similarities in theme are going to be unavoidable. The latter used a flashback/forward technique as well, but it was narrated by the characters of Apple’s Steve Wozniak and Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer talking to camera as if in a documentary. Whether TSN does so or not, I think it’d be pretty difficult to answer the question – as Wozniak puts it – of “How do you get from there to here?” without using some kind of non-linear structure. Especially if we already know the outcome.

  22. I just saw this – EXCELLENT film, I recommend it highly.


  23. Hey its not out at my theater damn! I now wanna see it cuz u recommend it vic!!

  24. I hate Facebook. It went from a great way to keep in touch with friends to a huge advertising platform. The creators are getting PLENTY of money from it, and now people want to give them even MORE money by going to see a Hollywood version of what happened? I’ve long since quit Facebook, and I’ve long since wished I’d never joined. I’m going to go hang out with some real friends in real life, now.

    • Hi,

      I actually read your comments to understand exactly why do you hate facebook. I was looking for stuff like privacy issues, bugs things that bother you as your user experience. But surprisingly it’s nothing like that, you hate facebook because it makes money by serving you ads (which you can easily ignore as they are on the right side of tha page just chilling out there). If this is true than bassically we should hate every website in the world including google (which makes much more money than facebook and their main revenue is from ads). Apple also makes a lot of money and helps you keep in touch with your friends, does that mean your’e gonna throw your iphone into the trash because apple is making money?

      I know that was offtopic and I’m sorry so I’ll try to make it up by saying my opinion about the movie since I saw it a few days ago. It was ok, not awesome, just ok. I had greater expectation from it. Also from what I know the story told in the movie is not even close to being true. If you want a more accurate story about this try reading the book “The Facebook Effect”, that’s a lot more close the truth of what actually happened, though I don’t really think anyone knows exactly what happened there except probably Mark Zuckerberg and the others that were involved in this story.

    • Illiterate spam.

      • That’s directed at “Ghost” – should anyone read this after it’s removed…

    • You know precisely why this isn’t a story about MySpace or Tagged. Don’t play the innocent. If your real agenda was to liberate us all from the tyranny of Facebook, why did you lead in with illiterate misogynist spam, and why are you trying to persuade people to sign up for yet another social networking site? Justify your love or bog off, son.

      • Anti-feminist tirade. Bringing people together. Good luck with that.

        • The Big Dentist,

          I deleted the link to the site.


          • Yeah, that’s a particularly weird one if Mr Ghost’s purpose is to push an alternative networking site.

    • ok dude tagged seriously thats the like the worst social site, has more fake whores than the rest..and facebook is way beyond dweebs and college kids, heck you got hs kids to grandparents on there now.. thats how theres 500 million people on there now


    I gotta say, I disagree with your opinion on the end. While I think that Sorkin (who, I admit, is my personal God and so I’m giving him some room) could have maybe added a bit more of it thematically and story-wise, this began and ended as a story about a kid who lost and cannot regain the love of his life….. a story of a guy who was a terrible socializer and yet created the greatest socialization mechanism of the 21st century… and how even with the mechanism he CREATED to bring people together, still cannot solve his own social problem.

    I loved it.

    • @Matt

      I think it’s hard to say for sure that this girl was “the love of his life,” given how he treated her and what he ultimately reveals to be his thoughts about her.