The Social Network (2010) Review

People have been telling me to watch The Social Network for years and I finally got round to it this week. Knowing a little about the back story, I was not really sure how this would go. It turns out Facebook had a more tumultuous past than I imagined. Would I “Like” it? 

Jesse Eisenberg is always a bit odd when I see him in films, he is only ever worked as the guy in Zombieland, everywhere else he just never fits for me. That’s no longer the case now, as he is perfectly cast as Mark Zuckerberg, especially this version of him. I expected the film to spin things more positively towards him, but this is a sad story about a person so far in their own world they have not made any meaningful connections with other people. He is successful but has nothing outside of a bank balance to show for it.

From the first scene, I could tell who the star of the movie was, and it isn’t Eisenberg, it is the screenplay by Aaron Sorkin. The first scene in a busy bar with Zuckerberg talking to Erica sets the pace for the entire film. There is a lot of information given to you, but in the form of a conversation that’s seemingly about something else. You expect the scene to be about these two people’s relationship, which it does convey to a point, but its real job is to set up the character of Zuckerberg as a self-centred arsehole.

From that point the movie clips along delivering the story by jumping between board room meetings, College dorms, Facebook HQ and at one point an English boat race. Every line of dialogue in the film feels important and furthers the plot. It’s a rare thing to have a script where the dialogue is so sharp and purposeful. Having only seen the film this one time, I imagine with multiple viewings you will pick up little lines here and there that add to the experience.

From a technical standpoint, this movie is pretty much perfect. When all the components come together like they do in this film, they almost disappear. The score adds a lot throughout the film, without sticking in your head and distracting you. Every shot is framed to give you easy recognition of which situation you are watching as it jumps between environments and times. David Fincher makes sure the elements are all blended perfectly and that nothing is left to chance. Fincher was probably as meticulous during this production as Zuckerberg is shown to be in the film itself with his coding.

A stunning technical achievement, telling a story about something we all know of, brilliantly acted, what else could you want? The thing missing from this for me is quite odd. The elements are all there, but for some reason the film just didn’t captivate me. I was taking in all this information; I was enjoying all of the dialogue. Towards the end of the film, I found that there was nothing to evoke the emotional response in me that I look for in my very favourite films.

The Social Network is fantastic. It’s a brilliant showcase in all the technical elements of a film. It gives as much information as a documentary, although how much is accurate is irrelevant for the films purpose. Whilst it’s giving you all those nuggets of information, there is a war or words going on in the board rooms, there is the beginnings of a court room drama, there is a best friend feeling betrayed, there is a man so focused on building a social network, he forgets to have a social life.

Good: A fantastic screenplay delivers the sharpest, most focused dialogue you will find. All packaged in a phenomenally crafted box and delivered to you with pace.

Bad: This is an excellent piece of cinema but didn’t evoke the emotion to be one of my very favourite films.

TL:DR : The Social Network has one of the best screenplays of the 21st century, and it’s expertly translated onto the screen, something you should definitely take the time to watch. 

 

Zombieland Double Tap Review

The first Zombieland was great fun and came out of nowhere. I remember seeing it and being completely surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did. It was quirky, funny, and had the 4 main characters had great chemistry. It was also 2009, and by 2014 I had just naturally assumed there wasn’t going to be a sequel. However, 10 years later, we have the next part of the story and once again I am going in with absolutely no idea of what to expect. 

The core cast are all back, with Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin, who has noticeably grown up over the last 10 years while the other 3 look remarkably like how they did in the first one. It’s like they haven’t aged a day, but then Woody Harrelson has looked like he does now for as long as I have known of him, so I guess it makes sense. He’s one of those ageless people like Keanu Reeves.

Anyway, those four returns and seem to have not missed a beat. Their chemistry is once again the engine that keeps this film going. The banter back and forth between them all really does feel like a group that has been together for a long time so I would guess these four are friends outside of the camera as well. The newcomers to the cast add some new dimensions, and top of that list is Zoey Deutch who plays a ditzy, oblivious girl who has somehow survived this long. At first, I thought the character would become annoying very fast, but she does develop a little and is not just the idiot she first seems.

Rosario Dawson is the other newcomer and as always, she is great. She is immediately on the same wavelength as the rest of the group and her chemistry with Woody Harrelson adds a new dynamic to his character. I’ve talked about the cast so much because really, they’re the best thing about Zombieland Double Tap. Beyond them and some funny “Zombie Kill of the Year” bits, there isn’t much else here beyond some zombie killing.

The plot is fine, the action scenes are fine, and the special effects are great. That could kind of sum up this film unfortunately. There is no clever plot here, it’s basic and it serves its purpose of giving the characters a reason to go somewhere. Beyond that there is no intrigue or “what’s going to happen”. There is rarely a moment when you worry about any characters and when you do, it’s never for too long. The new Zombie types are fun, and the cleverly named T-800 (Zombieland’s main box office competition is the new Terminator) is an interesting idea, but they quickly become just another part of the horde.

The action scenes do have some fun moments, but there are only so many times a zombie being shot in the head is that entertaining. The film sets up a more interesting fight at the end, but then the finale happens a bit too quickly and there is no time for any cool action scenes. The last fight is practical, rather than entertaining, and even if there are some fun visuals a couple of times, my highlight of the films action was a cutaway skit to a guy murdering zombie in Italy.

What is odd about Zombieland Double Tap is that it doesn’t bring much new to the table, but still feels fun, fresh and enjoyable. It’s a movie we have had before, but the 10-year gap makes the reunion feel like more fun than if we had a sequel a couple of years later. It’s rare that comedy sequels made 10 years later work (see Zoolander 2) but somehow the formula of the first film still holds up in 2019. As much as I enjoyed watching this film, I can’t say I need another Zombieland anytime soon, so perhaps revisiting in another 10 years wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

It’s one of those films where your expectations need to be in the right place when you go in. Don’t expect a stunning sequel that surpasses the first, it doesn’t even try to be that. It’s an update on what’s happened to the characters you enjoyed first time. Like a postcard from someone you lost contact with, you will probably smile, laugh a little, and then forget about it all over again.

Good: Great chemistry between the cast with some laughs. Some laugh out loud moments that got me good.

Bad: Unambitious, very little original content, and unadventurous action scenes.

7/10 – Zombieland is Fine, and I think that’s what they were aiming for.