The Social Network movie (that Facebook movie) review

I really enjoy The Social Network (that Facebook movie) and I think David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin have done a great job in telling an entertaining story. I will focus my review of the film on its entertainment value and defer other discussions till later.

By the way, to complete this review, I will also post some links to other reviews I enjoy reading plus an interesting review by a respected law professor and my personal response to his views.

1. Opening scenes

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Like other reviewers have pointed out already, the opening scenes set up the story beautifully. And Jesse Eisenberg (as Mark Zuckerberg) is greatly helped by Rooney Mara as Erica Albright. In the hands of lesser writer or director, the audiences may not connect with Jesse‘s Zuckerberg character and we might have a film dead on arrival.

2. The “computer hacking” and “social hacking/understanding”

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Many computer code hacking/writing scenes were shown through out the film and they presented in dynamic manner. But more interestingly, the audiences are also made clear that the “social hacking/understanding” is equal or more important.

3. The Supporting Casts

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The supporting casts all did wonderful jobs. The supporting actors/actresses all have great screen time to show their chops.

I really think Timberlake has done a wonderful job in the film and I think we should stop giving him a hard time for his singing past! :) If you haven’t seen it, he was very funny in Mike Myers’ The Love Guru.

4. The rowing race scene (using tilt-shift time-lapse photography)

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I don’t have a photo to show the rowing race scene (above photo is the twins practicing). Anyway, the filming technique used to film the race is a special technique called tilt-shift time-lapse photography. [HT Brandon for leaving a comment to remind me of the name of the technique.]

Following is an example of tilt-shift time-lapse photography from Sydney, Australia by Keith Loutit. [HT Gizmodo]

5. Other movie reviews, news, and

– ‘Social Network’ has nearly 500 million reviewer friends, too, LA Times

It’s about as rare as pitching a perfect game in baseball — a movie that draws nearly 100% raves. But “The Social Network” has come about as close as any movie this year to reaching the milestone.

The three leading film review aggregators — Rotten Tomatoes, Movie Review Intelligence and Metacritic — are, as of Friday, showing that director David Fincher’s fictionalized history of Facebook’s founding has drawn the best marks of any narrative feature this year, with respective scores of 98, 96 and 98.

– Being Social at the Social Network, Huffington Post

The new film the Social Network is as good as everyone says. In fact, it’s better. It’s a brilliant mix of pop culture and eternal themes, from love and rivalry to classism or the simple need to be accepted; and, the need as well, to get back at those who don’t accept you.

– A Facebook Field Trip To See the Facebook Movie, WSJ Blog

6. The movie & law review by Harvard Law Professor Larry Lessig

I have admired Lessig for some years and consider him as a voice that I respect and seriously consider his views and opinions in the fields of IP and copyright laws, in particularly Creative Commons matters.

So I take his critique of the movie in The New Republic article Sorkin vs. Zuckerberg – ‘The Social Network’ is wonderful entertainment, but its message is actually kind of evil seriously. For anyone who want to dig deeper into the legal side of the case, I highly recommend you read Sorkin vs. Zuckerberg in full. Here are some excerpts (emphasis added),

“You will see this movie, and you should. As a film, visually and rhythmically, and as a story, dramatically, the work earns its place in the history of the field.

But as a story about Facebook, it is deeply, deeply flawed. As I watched the film, and considered what it missed, it struck me that there was more than a hint of self-congratulatory contempt in the motives behind how this story was told.

[…] Two lawsuits provide the frame for The Social Network.

[…] We can’t know enough from the film to know whether there was actually any substantial legal claim here. Sorkin has been upfront about the fact that there are fabrications aplenty lacing the story. But from the story as told, we certainly know enough to know that any legal system that would allow these kids to extort $65 million from the most successful business this century should be ashamed of itself. Did Zuckerberg breach his contract? Maybe, for which the damages are more like $650, not $65 million. Did he steal a trade secret? Absolutely not. Did he steal any other “property”? Absolutely not—the code for Facebook was his, and the “idea” of a social network is not a patent. It wasn’t justice that gave the twins $65 million; it was the fear of a random and inefficient system of law. That system is a tax on innovation and creativity. That tax is the real villain here, not the innovator it burdened.

The case for Zuckerberg’s former partner is stronger, and more sensible and sad. But here again, the villains are not even named. Sorkin makes the autodidact Sean Parker, co-founder of Napster, the evil one. (No copyright-industry bad blood there.) I know Parker. This is not him. The nastiest people in this story (at least if Sorkin tells this part accurately) were the Facebook lawyers who show up in poorly fitting suits and let Saverin believe that they were in this, as in everything else they had done, representing Saverin as well. If that’s what actually happened, it was plainly unethical.”

Without turning this movie review into a legal debate, I will simply say I don’t agree with all of Prof. Lessig‘s views listed above. In the confine of a film/story (imagine we are watching “Basic Instinct“) where we base our decision and judgement on the clues/setups in the movies, sure, no contract was breached, but the “Zuckerberg” in the film should definitely pay more than $650. Has America become so litigious that the “right” and “moral” thing will only be done when required and bounded by contractual obligations?

And while the “Zuckerberg” in the film may not have legal obligations to protect his “one friend” and business partner, I sure hope most people’s “one friend” will be honourable enough to warn their friends of pending danger or traps.

On a personal note: In my business life, I have opportunities to take advantage of others in the business world but I refuse to cross the line I call “ethics”. May be I am naive, I think there are different ways to make money while maintaining my high-ish standard of ethics. And the road to “asshole”-ness can be very slippery and once fall from grace, one can take a long time to climb out of disgrace.

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2 Responses to The Social Network movie (that Facebook movie) review

  1. Brandon says:

    “Too bad I don’t remember the name of the technique.”
    It’s tilt shift ;)

    I was actually looking for the music the name of the music that was playing during the rowing race.

  2. kempton says:

    Hi Brandon,

    Thanks for the name of the technique. I’ve updated the entry to include a cool video sample for others to see.

    Sorry, too bad I don’t know the name of the music that was played during the rowing race scene.

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