The Social Network: What I Thought

The Social Network is renowned for being, quite deservedly, one of the highest rated films on RottenTomatoes, the only problem being that I can’t ascertain why this is. The film documents Mark Zuckerberg’s journey to stardom, from launching Facebook from his dorm room at Harvard, to enjoying the title of youngest ever billionaire. Unlike many, I have tried to keep on top of Facebook’s clashes with litigation over the years, what with people claiming IP rights over the site, and so on. Luckily, most people aren’t like me, and don’t obsess over the things such as this. It would seem, then, that the film’s appeal isn’t in its story. That isn’t to say it isn’t a well-strung narrative. It truly is. Zuckerberg’s story is relayed to us through a series of committee meetings, and legal depositions, where slowly, we see Zuckerberg’s story unravel, one piece at a time. It’s a story that is told very well, and will have you engrossed. What is the film’s appeal, then? It’s acted well, the music fits just right, and for some, it may even move you.

I think the magic of this film is that we can all relate to it. The premise is far less boring than it sounds, and what is revealed to the audience is a tale of friendship, betrayal, honour, and above all, unrequited love. Like most films in this vein, it both starts, and ends with a girl. The film opens with Zuckerberg’s then girlfriend, Erica Albright (played by Rooney Mara) breaking up with Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg). What then unfolds is a fabulous story led by Zuckerberg’s insecurities, and his quest for not only recognition with women, but recognition from his Ivy League peers, and their fraternity network. Along the way, you’ll see how Zuckerberg’s relationship with his best friend, Eduardo Saverin, co-founder of Facebook, evolves. You’ll see Zuckerberg clash with well-backed socialites Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, owners of social network ConnectU, who claim Zuckerberg ‘stole their idea’ for Facebook from a joint project they all worked on. You’ll also see how entrepreneur Sean Parker, creator of Napster, had a profound effect on Facebook’s evolution. The story definitely has some weight to it, to its credit, with every turn causing the audience to question what exactly is going on in Zuckerberg’s head.

Zuckerberg is portrayed as a ‘typical’ geek; lacking in social skills, but academically brilliant. However, there’s always an idea lying on the table that Zuckerberg isn’t comfortable in being how he is. It’s almost like he is driven in his endeavours to become something better, whether a ‘jock’ on the rowing team, a hit with the ladies, or simply someone who is popular, and well liked. With so many competing themes at play, it’s sometimes hard to decipher why not only Zuckerberg, but the supporting characters act as they do. For instance, Cameron Winklevoss’ initial refusal to sue Zuckerberg, who advocates to deal with his disagreement with Zuckerberg like a ‘Harvard man’, is one notable example. Another is a move made by Saverin towards the end of the film, which could likely have jeopardised their entire operation. While there is a lot of confusion as to the motivations of the film’s characters, that’s part of its beauty, and humanises the characters it portrays to a great degree. These characters feel, more or less, just like you or I. Of course, it’s not every day that we sue our best friends for 600 million dollars, but the feeling is there that this is real life, only escalated to gargantuan proportions. That, I think is what makes this film really special.

How would I rate it, then? I would definitely see the film again, given the chance. I’m also most certainly purchasing it when it’s released. The Social Network is a wonderful film, which is certainly most worthy of your attention.

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Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: What I Thought

I was quite lucky to just so happen to return from my annual holiday on the very day that Scott Pilgrim was released in the UK. Yawning from sleep deprivation, and a not particularly pleasant plane journey home, I wasn’t really in the mood to go anywhere, let alone see any films.

This is because I am silly. I was tempted (and advised by friends) to restrict this opinion piece to the words, SCOTT PILGRIM WAS AMAZING. Indeed, anyone following me on Twitter would have seen last night that my Twitter feed was almost wholly consumed by these words. Suffice to say, ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. The World’ is a fantastic, astonishing film, that works on many levels.

I approached the film as someone who’s been gaming for almost two decades, now. I live, and breathe computer games, and the film appealed to the gamer mentality in a way that was, well, awesome. In the film you’ll find references to Mario, Sonic, Zelda, Pac-Man and other lovingly thematic things related to the gaming canon, such as huge hammers, mental boss fights, lots of coins, extra lives; I could go on, but I’m not going to. If you’re a gamer, you should probably have already seen this film. It feels as though I’m preaching to the converted.

In terms of being an awesome film, the film takes the medium and literally makes it its own. Based on the collection of graphic novels of the same name, by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World takes the series’ affiliation with comics and somehow fuses the two, including the use of ‘frames’, ‘visual’ sound effects (POW, tssch, BOOM, and other onomatopoeic niceties) and other conventions from comics, and manages to cobble everything together in a film that is very much a film celebrating the wondrous nature of geekdom, and all that it entails. It’s not a film for comic geeks, or gaming geeks, or not even geeks in general, necessarily. Think of it into a window to a kick-ass world you might not yet be a part of. Everything from Scott’s amazing t-shirts (ranging from one that trumpets, ‘SARS’, to a collection of Smashing Pumpkins shirts) right down to the cinematography, and the way different shots and scenes connect to each other screams awesome.

It bothers me that I haven’t yet said anything about the film itself. Scott Pilgrim, 22, Rating: Awesome, is dating a high-schooler. Slowly, you get introduced to the elements that make up Scott’s crazy life, such as his insane gay roommate, Wallace, his band Sex Bob-omb, and their attempts to get big, and literally, the girl of his dreams, Ramona Flowers. On a whim, Scott decides to forego his relationship with his high-school girlfriend, Knives Chao, and chase after Ramona, who is anything but oblivious to his geekish nature. Somehow, Ramona and Scott end up together, and Scott has to battle Ramona’s ‘seven evil Xs’ (or exes), while still having to deal with both of their histories along the way. I’m trying not to give too much away, because this is a film you really must see. I laughed so very hard, and came out of the cinema feeling like I’d literally just seen one of the iconic films of our generation.

Scott Pilgrim isn’t like any other film I’ve ever seen before. It’s unique, immensely satisfying, and tries something new (or tries many things that are new) which, despite the film’s clearly massive budget (licensing all those sound effects must have cost a bob-omb), hearkens it to what could have well been an indie film. Crikey. It’s just magical.

Scott Pilgrim did not do well on its opening weekend in the US. This is a shame, not only because it’s the kind of film that deserves to do well, but because good ticket sales are what film executives need to be able to justify their wishes to make ‘outside the box’ films such as Scott Pilgrim. This kind of film is exactly the kind of film the film industry needs more of, and without commercial success, I fear that may not happen. So, if you’re a cool person, who’s interested in awesome things, go and see this film. If you’re really awesome yourself, take a friend, or two. Take your grandma. Take as many people as you can, and let your wallets speak out against the incorrigible Hollywood machine, and the laws of capitalism that govern it. We will fight them in the box office. We will fight them through DVD sales, and we shall say, “we really, really want more.”

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is fantastic. It’s wonderfully put together, it’s bold, and it’s very funny. It’s something that you really need to see.

Would I watch it again? Many times. I’m already trying to plan time in my already hectic schedule to see the film again. I will buy this on DVD when it’s released. I will buy it on Blu-ray. Heck, I would buy all physical properties associated with this film, including Michael Cera, if I could. I am very, very excited, and you should be too.

Do something for your fellow citizens today. Please, go and see Scott Pilgrim.


Aris’ Epic ‘Would You Watch It Again?’ Rating System (TM)

I’ve been looking at the way that people rate things at the end of reviews, and it’s not something I really like. It’s very ‘un-human’ in my opinion. Read the rest of this entry »