The Social Network Review

Published 3 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.

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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
(Excellent)

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TAGS: the social network

126 Comments

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  1. Great Movie! Great Cast except Justin Timberlake. JT just stop acting please. Go back to your crappy singing. Great story line, but mostly false. The real story would be too boring to watch. Next stop, i created twitter or youtube the movie, and or Al Gore i created the internet. This is just lame. The only reason it’s in theatres and not straight to DVD is because of the changes in most of the storyline. I going to start a site with enemies page instead of friends. I call it F@#K U book. My motto is “F@#k ur enemy before they F@#k u”. It’s a character defamation page. F@#K the movie?

  2. Im still scratching my head and trying to figure out why facebook suprassed the other networking sites some of which were feature rich and less cumbersome to navigate.

    Does the movie shine a light on that part of it?

  3. I can’t stand Facebook, so this movie holds no interest for me. Maybe some day in the future I’ll check it our on AMC or something, but it’s not getting my $10.

  4. “You’re not an @$$hole…but you try so hard to be one.” wow. epic. What was that chick’s role in the film again? Ah that’s right, we needed some window into Zuckerberg’s human heart cause we didn’t get one from anywhere else.

    Oh and uh women are only useful when they’re snortin’ off each others’ bellies. Didn’t your mama ever teach you that?

    Two stars for good camerawork and decent acting on the part of Eisenberg and Garfield. Essentially no one else. And what fuxing year is this – maybe I should strip down and gyrate cause that’s the only role I have in the intellectual world. What a joke.

  5. @someone

    you want reasons to hate facebook?

    How about that it’s a site that got popular for ripping off another site that ripped off the site before it and despite that still offers less features , less customization and when it tries to add something new it’s a completely pointless feature like thumbs up or down to a comment. So not only was facebook not an original idea they couldn’t even build on what already existed. It still amazes me that facebook looks so bland is unoriginal and offers less features and custom stuff than it’s competition and still became the most popular social network site.

    Hey every one check it out it’s the hip new kid on the block let’s all mindlessly join it and ignore the sites with better code and more to offer. If ever the term mindless sheep was fitting.

    • Why don’t you make a better socializing website then?

      • No need to Ron there are already a bunch that exist. Almost all the other social sites are better.

        • Perhaps the reason Facebook has succeeded where nearly every other “social site” has failed, is because the things one perceives as making one social networking experience better than another, are not as obvious as you might think?

          • Steve not sure that makes sense at all. Facebook offers nothing that for example myspace doesn’t already. My space has all the same features had them first and is more customizable than facebook as well. In fact the only thing facebook has that myspace doesn’t is inferior code. Is that the key?hiring less skilled people?

            • Daniel,

              Please tell me your joking when you say MySpace is better than Facebook. MySpace sucks. I tried using it for a while and hated it – hard to use, sloppy design. Facebook is clean, intuitive and much easier to use.

              I haven’t been to my MySpace page in over a year – it’s just there as a placeholder for my name so it doesn’t get hijacked.

              Vic

              • Are people actually having an argument over facebook? It’s a website people. I think Screenrant’s better than any of those socializing sites :D

              • Wow Vic I could ask the same thing about you kidding. Facebook is such a lazy site it was put together with out any desighn. It’s plain , boring overly simplistic with no thought put behind it.

                It lacks In features myspace not only has more but the ones they have in common work more cleanly and better on myspace.

                Facebook not only copied myspace but they only half a$$ copied them and left out like half the features. They slowly started adding them and playing catch up but they still lack the awesome customization that myspace has had since the begining and while they continue to improve it facebook fails to even play catch up it’s less customizable now than myspace was with in it’s first year. It’s such a plain site with no detail or substance. It’s look is about as dull as a white wall.

                It’s user friendly and simple working with out any frustration when moving through the site. It’s also pleasing to look at. Not only does face book fail in comparison to myspace but it fails comparred to just about any other site. I’d rather use Live Journal lol.

                Either way i’d rather use Screenrant it beats all sites. ;)

                • Daniel,

                  We’ll have to agree to disagree. I hated MySpace when I used it, found it to have a clutzy interface, had a hard time finding what I wanted, got tons of unwanted spam messages, etc.

                  Facebook is MySpace for grownups.

                  Vic

                  • For grownups.

                    How a website can be “for grownups” is too ridiculous to warrant intelligent rebuttal. So in lieu of that…

                    • Like Harley Davidson is better than Honda?

                      I would mention Apple but…

                      Well, comments that purport such strong adherence to a brand are just the extent which you’ve been branded.

                    • Nik,

                      What I meant is in comparison to the flash and gimmickry of MySpace. Facebook (which is a place where I don’t spend much time, BTW) has always had a cleaner, more elegant look to the design than MySpace has.

                      Vic

                  • Good response.

                    However! I do remember a specific time when Myspace and Facebook were equally thought of, and suddenly elitism starting creeping into the picture. I suddenly jumped both ships when the popularity really exploded. (I fear popularity)

                    Maybe not in your case particularly, but something interesting happened, some kind of critical mass, and when something just gets popular enough, people can’t separate their emotions from the picture and lose and objective viewpoint into why they choose this over that. Is Coke really better than RC Cola? Or is my faith in Coca Cola company stronger than my taste buds’ ability to distinguish.

                    Let us always remain critical.

                    • I run this website. I care about functionality and ease of use, not Coke vs Pepsi.

                      But sure, some things hit critical mass of some sort or acquire some sort of patina that makes them desirable – your Honda vs Harley analogy isn’t bad. Although I’d say that those two brands provide different user experiences and that’s at least PARTLY what draws people to one or the other.

                      Vic

                • “…they still lack the awesome customization that myspace has had since the begining…”

                  Honestly when Myspace first came out, I loved it. I customized and it looked awesome. Then I started to get bored with it and all my friends had made a facebook and I was stuck with Myspace.

                  My point here is that people don’t need “awesome customization” to be able to socialize with their friends and keep up with people that they knew in high school/college.

                  I’m just happy that I get to see how these people are doing now through a website instead of waiting 10 years for a reunion like they used to before social networking.

            • “In fact the only thing facebook has that myspace doesn’t is inferior code.”

              Bahahaha

    • I COMPLETELY agree.

    • I must concur with this fellow’s sentiments, and hopefully I can elaborate on these feelings.

      I can’t say I hate Facebook, but it’s certainly disputable that there’s anything groundbreaking about the idea of saying something, and getting a response. It’s called communicating.

      But here’s were we’ve changed. Say there’s a guy Jack or maybe Jill about whom you don’t give a crap about. Facebook makes it convenient for you to inquire about their comings and goings, when maybe you shouldn’t. Where self restraint is absent, maybe convenience is a bad thing. And why are communications becoming so publicized? Oh, how we all wish to be actors on a stage, but please write via personal email (or call?). Writing on my wall is like coming up to my house and leaving a note on my door instead of simply knocking for a nice visit. Tea, perhaps?

      If the Social Network is about the how human failings find refuge behind the screen, then its just a symptom of the state of society – not the cause. A movie about the cause would be much more enlightening.

  6. Good entertainment, nice plot with twists and intrigue. I give it a 4, worth the ticket price, did not experience a letdown in movie. Ending is thot provoking.

  7. Not sure I’ll go to this. yawn.

  8. Funny Vic cause for me myspace was far more grown up.

    Facebook is myspace but for trendy hipster college students who want to jump on the fresh new thing regardless of inferior quality.

    • I didn’t realize there were 500 million trendy hipster college students. And from the time I spent on MySpace, it seemed like many of the denizens there would never be able to get into college. 8)

      Vic

      • Your right Vic it also features alot of college drop out 13 yearolds and older people desperately trying to stay relevant.

        Don’t get me wrong Myspace was the same when it came out as well neither crowd is exactly the hope of the future but I’d say the people who didn’t instantly abandoned myspace when they heard there was something new are a bit more mature and less concerned about trends. I’m not even sure how this is a debate myspace clearly offers more than face book and certainly looks better since face book looks like a plain background with the word Facebook on it.

        As far as easy to use my brother is on both sites and posts pictures of his kids for family members. My mom wanted to see pictures of her grand kids he tried to show her how to use facebook and she was lost. She said I’ll have Daniel show me and instead I set her up on myspace she picked it up no problem said it’s much more user friendly.

        Granted that’s only one example but I feel the same as well.

        Anyway I’m not sure why we have debated this for this long. Both sites are pretty big wastes of time and while I think myspace is very obviously better than Facebook I don’t actually like or really use either. I log in it myspace about once every month or every other month just to check in with my out of state grandma… By the way it disturbs the hell out of me that she uses a social networking site it’s not natural.

  9. Okay, after read some of your comments, I sit here laughing at the fact that you guys actually took the time to aruge which is better Facebook or Myspace. I have used both Myspace and Facebook for quite some time now, and have realized they are both good websites. Yes! Myspace can be used to make a profile with a background that could have some sort of graphic design, but Facebook, (even though the Website design is Plan and some say “Lame”) it is simple. For example the idea of the “Thumbs Up Like” button is so simple it is genious. I mean if a friend posted a picture of themselves or posted something in their wall that you quite enjoy all you really have to do it click the “Like” button and they person that posted it gets to know that you enjoy it. Piece of cake. haha….So on the real! subject, “The Social Network” I saw the movie and quite enjoyed it, you can Rage on about how he stole ideas from Myspace or Friendster and made billions off it, But in reality all he did was make a website somewhat similiar to myspace, expanded it, and gave the people a choice. Mcdonalds for Example; Mcdonalds was probably the first True fast food chain to hit, but can you truely say that jack n the box, burger king, in n out, etc. RIPPED OUT Mcdonalds? Get real! The other fast food company just make a company and marketed so that the people get to choice. Same goes with Facebook and Myspace, they are both two website with similiar ideas, which ever one you! choice to use is your business….Next subject, is the only reason why people are hating Facebook and the movie, is because they found out that Mark and Facebook have made Billions! off the website. Now you ask yourself “How come Myspace doesn’t have a movie?” Or how come the Owner of Myspace isn’t on the news tell how he made Billions? Well Mark did something Tom Did not do, which was Expand as well as brought Investers for the Website. They started to own Stocks and it Exploxed to own billions. Tom on the other hand did not Exapand they way he should of, and ended up Selling the website to Rupert Murdoch for $580 Million. Which i dont know about anyone else, but I could live with $580 Mill…. So bottem line is Both Facebook and Myspace are Awesome websites and which ever one you use is what you do. Or go Fly a Kite, read a Book or Invent something that is worth Billions, then come rub it in my face. Im 19, use both websites, and find it funny that people can actually waste their time and life aruging something isn’t such a big deal!

    -Peace

  10. Excellent review Kofi, I hope to eventually be able to articulate as well as you can. I just got done seeing it earlier tonight and I was blown away by it. Not in the “masterpiece” sense, but because they managed to make what sounded like a dry story and make it captivating and interesting. Every member of that cast nailed it out of the park, but I think Garfield stole more scenes than Eisenberg did. That’s just my opinion.

    I also didn’t really dig the opening scene. I appreciate how quick it was and how well it was written, but it came off so…robotic to me, like they were just reading the lines. Once the credits hit though, I was invested right away.

    I also have to give props to the Crew race scene; as pointless as it was, the cinematography was absolutely beautiful and the scene that stuck out visually to me the most.

    Again, great stuff man.

  11. Here is a good reason to dislike facebook :
    You will wake up one morning old and realize that you spent at least half of your lifetime on a computer “making friends” or commmenting pictures or looking at someone’s status. I think that’s good enough for me to make me not ever want a facebook. I am 19 years old and i can do better things with my free time.

    • HelloKitty, it’s promising to see that someone in their teens realizes one of the less mentioned negative effects this social networking age has on people. 

      I’m 34 and was working part-time in a bar when FB became popular. Since FB was new and half my younger co-workers were on it, I joined. Now, anyone that’s worked in the restaurant/bar industry knows it’s a soap opera. When it moved online, I deleted my account. All my friends and family live in the same city so it didn’t interest me. 

      Ironically, a long-time web developer back then and still, I found I was spending too much time on the computer as it was and didn’t need another distraction. Problem was, all my clients needed all the Facebook buttons on their site. I’m back on, but with a very small profile and use it almost purely for testing. 

      The MySpace vs FB argument is interesting too. When I saw FB I thought the same thing many are saying – how boring and corporate this looks. Not very warm nor inviting. I don’t use MySpace and avoid visiting it if I can. Although the profiles had character and were more exciting to see, I hated how my browser choked trying to load it all. FB’s site is boring on purpose to look clean and load quickly (when it works). That’s the one thing they didn’t copy and is why the older people and businesses use it. 

      The bad outweighs the good with these sites, unless you’re responsible enough to limit your time spent on it and realize anything you put on it becomes immortal.  As a guy who spends his time plugging other people in, I think I’m going to start unplugging myself at bit more.

      I’m sick of Facebook, or more accurately, what it’s doing to people. I’m tired of putting FB plug-ins on every site I’ve developed but understand why they’re wanted. Every commercial – ‘visit our FB page’. They want you there first, before their own website now! 

      Anyway, this site’s about movies right? I don’t know if I want to see this or not.  Being web-related, I could find it interesting but I don’t think I care. If the story revolved around the effects and habits of the users or took a Super Size Me approach, now that would be interesting.   

  12. I agree with almost all of your points. Without reading your review, I actually did not think that The Social Network missed the point. But after reading your review, I can see it, but only ever so slightly. See as Zuckerberg and his peers in the film are still fairly young, and the legacy of Facebook is still being written, it can’t be helped but to feel that you’ve been left hanging.

    Other than that, I really enjoyed the film. Even went and watched it for a 2nd time. Hope you enjoy my very short review of The Social Network and my short film that parodies Facebook, rather “FaceNovel”, here –> http://thebananatimes.com/blog/2010/10/11/book-of-a-million-faces-vs-the-social-network-a-banana-review/

    Cheers!
    Philbert

  13. I have to say,you make quite a few errors in your discription of the disappointing aspects of the movie.. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and i have no intention of targeting any comment that are opinion based however, one of your main problems with the film was its “lackluster ending”. I feel you completely contradict that statement when you say that the movie shouldn’t have been made when Zuckerberg hadn’t completed his legacy and Facebook was still at its height and growing.. The idea behind the ending was to leave it hanging,to show there was more to come (and also to show that despite his huge success he is a tragically flawed character who may have 500 million friends but the only person he wants to be with is the one person he can’t be with). Also it is not odd that he is sued by the three other Harvard students as this lawsuit actually happened in real life! How is it odd to have it in the movie about the rise in Facebook when the idea for Facebook came off Zuckerberg’s work on the website ConnectU for those three students? Personally your review comes across as you haven’t really done your research… Also,”overall feeling of pointlessness”? What is the point to any movie? The point of this movie was to tell the story of Facebook, seems quite easy to grasp personally. I look forward to your reply and P.S: Its really bugging me all these people writing the movie off before they’ve seen it.. You can’t tell anything about a movie until you see it and i think to say you think its bad before seeing it is ridiculous. Just go see it, you may suprise yourself :)

  14. I’m so mad at the creator of facebook. He traded his friends for money. And he took peoples idea and ran with it ..

    • I watched social network, based on a true story, which showed that the guy who invented facebook just stole the idea and ripped off his best mate in the process… also heard that facebook were selling personal information to companies… NICE… The film just highlighted how people can use our own personal information in order to make a financial gain. How on earth did I get sucked into this? Indeed, why did so many billions of people get sucked into this?! The idea was phenomenal but the reality not so cool… This movie changed my whole way of thinking about Facebook… now I hate the idea of being on there… I wish I had never watched the movie :( Yes, I have now deleted my account…

  15. just saw the movie I loved it thought it was great I totally agree with 4/5 my only complaint is that is wasnt 20 minuts longer I hear it had to be 2 hours but it needed to be a little longer in my opinion

  16. Am I the only one who thought this movie was tres cheesy? It’s a compelling story, but the characters were mostly cartoonish, and I was annoyed by all the women in bras so eager to bang powerful men they had to do it in the bathroom !immediately! I felt like I was watching Animal House for smart people (no offense to Animal House). So bored.

  17. godzilla!!!!!

    • and Godzuki..

  18. if the twin invent the facebook, it will not be the what the facebook is right now. facebook is just what Mark want it to be. it is all about who is smarter and who is quicker. nothing is totally original, myspace is there already. twin cant sue them because its not about the money at the beginning.by the way,Justin is so not cute in the movie.

    • @tulipa
      well said mate.. i loved it.. its the fact.. nothing is original.. one who gets it done is the king.. in my view, mark is smarter and i love this movie a lot.. nothing personal, i love it cos its screenplay carries the movie all the way(definitely deserves an oscar).. well done Mr.Fincher.. Hats off to the entire cast and crew.. ll give it 4.5/5..

  19. another mediocure movie with very average performance of Justin.
    seriously what all i can think about the movie is THE TWINS.

  20. worst movie

  21. Very mediocre movie. I’m quite surprised that it has all of the praise that it does.

  22. Agree with Kofi Outlaw “this opening act was the most interesting thing the film offered”, I am still really struggling to get what the overall purpose of making this moving was to be honest. Very disappointing after all the hype!

  23. This is a film that took you through a journey. I listened to the dialogue, payed attention to the music, and payed attnetion to the lighting, and acting. It was constantly evoling. I wasn’t bored, but inspired to create something of my own that people can’t help, but use.

  24. I liked everything about The Social Network except for on thing. I had to keep back tracking the DVD in order to understand the dialogue. The sound was muddled, not only with the music, but it seemed to me that the background noise in nearly every scene was more than excessive. I don’t think it is my hearing, or equipment because this has not been an issue with other recent rentals. May be I just got a bad copy. Great movie. Too bad it took me 3 hours to watch it. Oh well.

    • I agree (with Craig) that the background music volume was distracting…but then I find it difficult to follow conversations in real bar rooms as well! My solution was to watch the film with subtitles on. That helped a lot.

      I enjoyed the film, but remain baffled by Facebook’s popularity.
      I would like to see a film about Facebook users, one that sheds some light on this strangely popular website.

  25. You my dear sir have lost credibility in reviewing movies. U cannot on one hand complain dat a movie lacks a more definite end to which I said it was done because the story has not been concluded and then at the end of your review u say how can the story feel so complete wen d story is still being written? Your review is chock full of contradictions and typos it smacks of a reviewer who has read other reviews and taken their ideas and made them his own.

    • You call someone out for their typos when you have at least five in your comment? And you don’t even write one comma in those two long run-on sentences. What a tool.

  26. I think the social network , was a very good movie in my oppinion.Yes is did change my thoughts on facebook greatly, but in over all that is what life is, fighting to get to the top and finding you screwed everyone over.I think the movie was supposed to open are eyes that it is a dog eat dog world, and you just have to be ready.

  27. I know I’m REALLY late commenting on this review.

    I cannot understand how this won Best Score over Hans Zimmer.

  28. If your a facebook fanatic watch this film very interesting to see how it all started, it’s not a great film, has some funny moment’s but the most interesting part for me was to see how it started.

    Rated 2.5/5

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