Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bengals Suck

Okay, it's official. The 2010 Cincinnati Bengals suck. Today, they lost against the Miami Dolphins, 22-14. It started out good with the Bengals scoring two touchdowns in the first half. Heck, on the first drive, the Bengals drove for eighty six yards for a TD. They led the Dolphins 14-12.

Then came the second half. Five straight three and outs. The offense stuttered. The defense had no pass rush. The Bengals had to blitz to get a pass rush. There was a ninety six yard TD drive by the Dolphins. Game over. Is it too much to ask Terrell Owens to finish routes and fight for the the ball? On the last Dolphin interception, Solomon Wilcots pointed out that TO could have finished the route. Then TO was open in the endzone and Wilcots commented that he could have come back to the ball and catch it. Instead he waited for it, giving the defensive back the opportunity to make a play on it. Maybe TO needs to protect his face for his future television show.

The Bengals are now 2-5. Is the season over? I would say yes. Next week the Pittsburgh Steelers come to town probably licking their chops and looking to humiliate our beloved Bengals.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Keith Olbermann on the Tea Party Candidates

Last night, Keith Olbermann on Countdown, went over the radical ideas of a group of Tea Party candidates. While I may agree with maybe one idea that these nuts have, I agree more with Olbermann. Below is his Special Commentary. Watch it and find out what the Tea Party, which is basically a form of conservative Republican, believes in.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Tribute to Jen Taylor

For nine years, she's voiced the sultry voice of the AI character Cortana in the Halo video game series. She is the lovely and talented Jen Taylor. If you listen to the commentary on the Halo: Combat Evolved, writer Joe Staten identifies the voice of the dropship pilot as Taylor. The point? Taylor also plays Cortana in the same scene. It sounds like two different people. I bet you didn't know that Jen is also the voice of Dr. Halsey in the new Halo: Reach game.

Here's the mini-documentary, Cortana Chronicles: In Search of Halo Fandom featuring the sublime Jen Taylor.

Part Two.

And check out this funny Jen Taylor faux interview.

Finally, check out her body of work at IMDB.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bengals Bungle Again

This game was over at half time. Yep. I know the Bengals got off the mat and went ahead by one point in the second half. But the Atlanta Falcons crushed the vaunted Bengals defense to take a twenty one point lead in the first half, 24-3. And when the defense needed to stop the Falcons, they couldn't. I'm talking after the Bengals went ahead by one point. Falcons receiver Roddy White killed the Bengals. And what Bengals loss could happen without a heart breaking mistake. In the fourth quarter, RB Cedric Benson, untouched, fumbled the ball. Game over. 39-32. That's because the Bengals couldn't stop the Falcons.

One last thing. Chad Ochocinco sent T-shirts to the Falcons defensive backs to advertise his new videogame and to taunt them. That inspired Falcons' Roddy White to play a great game. Memo to Chad. Just shut up and play.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Another Crazy Republican Tea Party Candidate

Stephen Broden, Republican and Tea Party darling, is running for Congress in Texas' 30th District. He also says that violent overthrow of the government is on the table if there isn't change in the leadership. Let's go over the list of crazy GOP Tea Party candidates. Carl Paladino. Sharron Angle. Christine O'Donnell. Now Stephen Broden. Here's Keith Olbermann's piece on this right-wing nut.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rating the Halo Video Games

Now that Bungie has produced its last Halo videogame, it's time to rate their five games. Now there are similarities in all five games, some bad and much of it great. I can point out Bungie's sense of humor by making the cannon fodder Grunts into cowardly Munchkins. Note to those making a Halo movie, leave these adversaries out. Yet all of them have excellent gameplay and compelling storytelling. In that light, there is not one bad or even average game in the series. So let's countdown to the best of the Halo series, starting with number five.

5. Halo 3: ODST. (2009) It's the hardest of the series because you play a regular human soldier. You have no special armor. So that means you have to hunt for health while avoiding getting shot. There are times when you're confronted with a foe like a Hunter and the program doesn't offer you a heavy weapon. And finding the next mission can be tough since you have to find a small artifact to boot the next mission.

But as with all Halo games, the first person shooter (FPS) mechanics are stellar. There's a nice feeling of loneliness as you are cut off from the squad and are searching for them. Nice jazz music. And I appreciated the romance between Tricia Helfer's intelligence officer and Nathan Fillion's foot soldier. The grade is B.

4. Halo: Combat Evolved. (2001) The gameplay is inconsistent. Some missions are straight forward and accessible while others are very difficult. Try navigating through the library level with hundreds of Flood attacking you. And having the last mission to be a race against time in the near uncontrollable Warthog was an act of sadism by the programmers. It's made even more difficult by having ridiculous obstacles put in your path.

Okay, does that mean this is not a great game? Absolutely not. Firing guns has never been more fun. Gameplay is addictive. Controls are magnificent. The storytelling is nice mixture of science fiction and action. It was the success that the first person shooting genre needed to flourish on consoles. This is the game that saved XBOX. The grade is A.

3. Halo: Reach (2010) All the great game mechanics in the series are here. The dogfighting level in outer space is a blast. But Halo : Reach's strength is its story. It's a tragedy. And it exists in a videogame. When you finish the epilogue mission, you might feel sad but you realize the sacrifice was worth it as hope arises out of the fall of planet Reach. It's bold storytelling. The grade is A.

2. Halo 3. (2007) This is the first Halo game for the XBOX 360. It fully utilizes the hardware because the graphics are gorgeous. The mutating Flood troops are remarkable. The action is compelling. Though, I could have done without the deaths of Miranda Keyes and Sgt. Johnson. For some reason, writers want to make drastic changes in the last act of a story. Why? I don't know. Regardless, it's a satisfying conclusion to Master Chief's story. The grade is A.

1. Halo 2. There has been griping about the cliffhanger ending of Halo 2. Yeah, so what? It's the second act of three act play. Some consider Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back as the greatest of all the Star Wars movies. That also had an unresolved plot point. Halo 2 expands on the Halo universe in sophisticated ways. There's greater depth to all the races involved especially the when the story deals with Covenant. There's also lessons in tolerance.

Halo 2 also fixes some of the problems in the first game. Flying the Banshee is now a snap. Driving the Warthog is still hard but driving the tank is logical and fun. While this game is not easy, it's more digestible as far as the difficulty of the missions. The game also introduces online multiplayer. Everything is bliss as far as gameplay. Halo 2 is the perfect game of the series. The grade is A +.

I look forward to what new games Bungie will develop. I also am curious as to what direction, Microsoft who now will be producing Halo games, will take the franchise.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Red Film Review

There was a time when Bruce Willis had hair. And if you're older than thirty you remember it. Now, Willis is old and firmly in the AARP range. So it's fun to see the old man kick ass in the action-comedy, Red.

Based on the Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner's graphic novel of the same name, Red is the story of retired superspy Frank Moses. (Bruce Willis) Frank lives quietly in the suburbs where he routinely tears up his pension check so he can call and talk to Treasury customer service operator Sarah Ross. (Mary-Louise Parker) His quiet life is disrupted by an assassination attempt. Realizing that the assassins were professionals, Frank flees and kidnaps Sarah, fearing that she will also be killed.

They run to New Orleans to talk to an old CIA associate, Joe Matheson, for information. (Morgan Freeman) Joe gives them information that leads to the discovery of a hit list which Frank is on. They then seek the help of another ex-agent, the mentally unstable Marvin Boggs. (John Malkovich) The three then seek to find out why there is a contract on the people on the list. Along the way, they form a team with Joe, and another ex-spy, Victoria. (Helen Mirren)

The first thing about Red that you'll notice is the cast. You have great acting talent in Oscar winner Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Richard Dreyfuss and Bruce Willis. The second thing you'll notice is the age of the principal characters. This is not a film about teenagers. You see Red stands for retired, extremely dangerous. The team are retired ex-spies. And what performances. Freeman is solid as always. Helen Mirren gives her character a Martha Stewart air yet she wields machine guns as good as the guys. Bruce Willis is good as the weary former spy. And John Malkovich steals the film as the mentally unbalanced and hilarious Marvin.

It's refreshing to see an action-comedy not made specifically for teenagers. There's some wild action but that's balanced out by some great humor and warmth. You do care about these characters and the credit should go to screenwriters, Jon and Eric Hoeber. Director Robert Schwentke has some cool camera angles and his direction keeps the film moving. Red is an action movie for the mature crowd. But you teenagers will love it too. The grade is A.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Halo: Reach Review

Maybe Hollywood could learn something from the videogame, Halo: Reach. When was the last time a big budget movie finished with a sad ending? Yet if you've played the versions of Halo, you know how Halo: Reach will end. In the other games, non-player characters talk about the fall of planet Reach. The story of this game is a tragedy. Yet, looking at the sales, the game still did very well. I hope Hollywood takes notice.

Halo: Reach is a prequel to the first Halo game. You play Noble Six, a faceless member of Noble squadron. They are a group of elite soldiers called Spartans and armed with special powered armor. The squad is dispatched to investigate why an outpost went silent. When they arrive, they discover the worst. Instead of human insurgents, the Covenant, an alien alliance, has attacked the post. It's now clear that planet Reach is being invaded. The rest of the game is a set of missions for you to complete. Most of them are in support of retreating troops or civilians.

First, I'm going to address the minor problems with this game. The save system which uses checkpoints can get infuriating. Take for example where you drive a tank back to base. As you approach, the alien defenses which includes heavy guns and vehicles open up on you. If you get killed, you'll be thrown back to last checkpoint and will have to kill all the enemies you've may have killed before the aliens got you. On the normal difficulty level, Covenant forces are tough. Killing Elites is hard. And even the Grunts lay down some heavy fire. Now, that may be intentional because you are fighting a losing battle. Oh, and one more thing about a plot point. In one scene you are thrown off an enemy ship in space. And you fall back to the planet. Huh? I mean you should be burned up and dead by the time you hit the surface.

What about the gameplay? It's your classic first person shooting goodness from developer Bungie. Firing guns is a blast. The graphics are gorgeous. There's a new orbital fighter which you take into space. It's quite enjoyable blowing up enemy fighters with lasers and missiles. Besides the campaign mode, other features return. They include map making Forge, Theater and of course, multiplayer online. The action is unrelenting. If this were a movie I would complain but as video games go, it's addictive. You want to clear an area to see where the next mission will take you.

Halo: Reach is the last Halo game that Bungie will develop. It is bittersweet end. And the game is a reflection of that. I can't remember if I've ever seen a game finish with a sad ending. Of course, there's hope since the game leads you directly to Halo: Combat Evolved. But I commend Bungie and Microsoft for releasing a courageous game. The grade is A.

Here's a trailer which is not based on actual gameplay but depicts the sacrifice of the Spartans. It's pretty cool and very emotional.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Is TV Smarter Than Film?

I was listening to NPR today and author Edward Epstein made the argument that TV is more intelligent than film. His argument is that the studios are marketing to the one reliable audience that goes to movies, teenagers. TV on the other hand is geared towards the person who pays the cable bill which is the adult. (Here's the interview and story.)

Is he right? Somewhat. Not all big studio films are made for the masses. "Inception" was an intelligent thriller. Yet, there's quite a bit of sophistication on television. Mad Men. Boardwalk Empire. A show that I watch regularly is Fringe. It's a hell of a show with intelligence, heart and great performances. The same guys who created it, J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci also made Star Trek. (2009) Now Star Trek was a good movie but it's not as smart as Fringe. Star Trek was made for a different audience, a mass audience. Yet, a filmmaker can have it all. "Dark Knight" and "Inception" both directed by Christopher Nolan were very intelligent films. They both made a lot of money. It just requires some artistic courage on the behalf of the studios.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sharktopus and SNL's s Land Shark

I've referenced Saturday Night Live's Land Shark skit when discussing craptastic Sharktopus. (SyFy, 2010) When the sharktopus is on land and comes over the top of a victim and chomps on him, it reminds me of SNL's Land Shark skit. Because the land shark comes through the door and bites you in the head. Here's a clip from the first skit featuring the Land Shark, aired in SNL's first season. (1975)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Best Thing About Sharktopus

I've griped about the SyFy movie Sharktopus. (2010) It's now time to say something positive about it. The best thing about Sharktopus is Shandi Finnessey. Yes, I know she's gorgeous. And this blog is not about checking out beautiful women. But seriously, she's not bad as an actress. Compared to Sara Lane in the movie, she's Judi Dench. Anyway, here are her scenes.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Insane Moments of Sharktopus

Okay, I'll admit that I watched Sharktopus (2010, TV movie for SYFY) a couple of times to catalog the crazy moments in this stinker. Hey, I'm a glutton for punishment. It seems at times, the filmmakers knew they were making a stupid movie and had their tongues or should I say tentacles in their cheeks. The problem is they didn't go all the way and turn this bomb into a comedy. Anyway, I'll divide this revisit of Sharktopus into three categories, terrible acting, awful dialogue and crazy action.

1. Terrible Acting. Eric Roberts plays corporate scientist Sands. He absolutely hams everything up because he knows this movie is stupid. Or maybe he's like that in every movie. Everything he does is done with a smirk. Sara Lane plays his daughter, Nicole. Her idea of acting? Look seasick. Kerem Bursin who plays hired gun, Flynn. He was probably cast for his pectoral muscles. He'll probably be posing for Playgirl soon. Liv Boughn plays reporter Stacy Everheart and runs around in a halter with her midriff on display. She looks like a cheap hooker that you see in any big city. With the exception of Shandi Finnessey (Stephanie) and Brent Huff (Commander Cox) everybody else are a bunch of robots.

And let's not forget the Sharktopus Wave demonstrated by the actors who play victims. This happens when Sharktopus grabs you with his tentacle. How do you do it? Throw your arms up like you're on a rollercoster and shake your hands.

2. Awful Dialogue

a. Girl no. 1.: Swim with me.
Girl no. 2: In the ocean? There's fish out there.

b. Sands: Very National Geographic, isn't it?

c. Sands: Make me proud pumpkin.
Nicole: I told you to stop calling me that.
Sands: Make me proud Nicole. (This is bizarre because it occurs as Nicole is using a computer to control Sharktopus.)

d. After a painter jokes with his buddy about gruesome ways to die, Sharktopus grabs the friend. When it grabs the painter, he yells, "Oh no, not like this." Check the clip below. Sorry about the volume, it's low.

e. Commander Cox: You just unleashed an eight legged man eating shark on the world.
Sands: A minor setback.

f. Sands: Relax commander. We'll get S-11 (Sharktopus) even if we have to go to the ends of the earth. (Roberts delivers this with a goofy smirk.)

g. Stacy Everheart: Stop starring at my rack. They're just boobs, they're not going to get up and dance or anything.

h. Pez (witness and beach bum during TV interview): And then I saw the tentacles, the black soulless eyes just like my third wife.

i. After Sharktopus has slaughtered people, Pez comments that's it was horrible.
Stacy Everheart in deadpan voice: Sure, sure. Horrible.

j. Sands must report to his navy handler. First he's got to drink. I'm guessing the drinks are real. Because Roberts' performance just gets more goofy after this.

Sands: First, bring me a great big enormous scotch.

k. Stacy Everheart: Oh, Pez. I could just hug you right now if you were better looking and had better hygiene. (She does and Pez grabs her ass.)

l. Bones (Everheart's cameraman): He was kinda of a nice guy. (Pez) Smelled a little funky but he was okay. But now he's dead.

m. Tourist on watching Sharktopus attacking dancers: Is that part of the show?

n. Tourist teenager after seeing Sharktopus kill: Dude, that's awesome.

o. Flynn to tourists: There's a killer shark octopus hybrid headed this way.

p. Sands to Flynn: What's your life compared to a miracle of science?

3. Crazy Action

a. Flynn is relaxing in a pool underwater. He's dressed in only his swim trunks. He then surfaces in a sombrero.

b. Flynn is still in the pool playing water polo with some lovelies. He's informed that the Sharktopus has escaped. The ball is thrown over and hits him.

c. An old man (Producer Roger Corman) admires a cute woman bending over to pick up a coin. She's attacked by Sharktopus. Old man does nothing and later takes the coin.

d. The Classic Scene. A woman goes bungie jumping. As she reaches the bottom of the dive, Sharktopus jumps out of the water and swallows her whole. It's in trailer below.

e. There's a couple of times where people just stand around and wait to be skewered by Sharktopus' tentacles. Hello? Run you idiots.

f. Sharktopus uses his tentacle and rips off his head harness. Later in the movie he uses his tentacle to remove a harpoon stuck in his head. It just looks ridiculous.

g. Flynn and buddy Santos joke around after Sharktopus has just killed two team members.

h. Couple has just witnessed gruesome deaths. Yet, husband still wants to stay on the water and fish. Guess what happens?

i. I believe that was real scotch that Eric Roberts was drinking. Because
as the movie goes on, he seems blitzed.

j. Sharktopus is impervious to bullets. Flynn unloads his machine gun into Sharktopus. Yet, nothing happens. The funniest scene is to watch the monster react to getting shot in the head in a stiff almost stop action motion.

k. Favorite type of Sharktopus kill. When Sharktopus is out of the water, comes over the top of a person and bites him in the head. It looks like Saturday Night Live's Land Shark skit.

l. Sharktopus growls.

m. The Sharktopus Chomp. When Sharktopus eats a person whole, he makes a chomping noise. CHOMP!

n. Marachi music always signals that some poor tourist is going to become human chum.

o. Sharktopus on land. It looks absolutely ludicrous. First, how does this thing breathe above water? Second, it uses its tentacles to walk around. WTF? A big shark head out of water and eating people reminds me of SNL's Land Shark. And check out the scene (in the trailer above) where it makes a snack out of a tourist who is riding a lift. LOL.

p. The kill switch password. At the end of the movie, Nicole is frantically trying to figure out the password which will activate the kill switch for Sharktopus. You'll guess it way before she does. That's because the screenplay writer telegraphed it. Hint: It's a word that Nicole doesn't like being called.

4. Conclusion. I wonder if there is going to be an extended DVD version of this turkey. Because I'm curious if there's move insanity that wasn't in the TV version.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Rachel Maddow Discusses New GOP Racist Candidates

Rachel Maddow discusses the new wave of GOP racist candidates, including New York gubernatorial candidate, Carl Paladino. People, I remember a time when the GOP was nothing like these candidates. Yes, I know that there was the GOP's southern strategy but the party still had moderates back in my younger years. It's another reason why I won't become a Republican.

Stephen Colbert Discusses MI6's Secret Formula for Invisible Ink

Stephen Colbert discusses the secret formula used by Britain's MI6 for invisible ink during WWI. It's hilarious but watch out. There's much sexual innuendo. This is PG-13 humor. Below is the video and check out Colbert. He almost loses it.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Formula 4 Your Eyes Only
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionMarch to Keep Fear Alive

Jon Stewart On Rich Iott and Carl Paladino

Let's check out what Jon Stewart of the "Daily Show" says about those crazy Republicans, Rich Iott running for congress and gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Indecision 2010 - Unforced Errors Edition
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

More Crazy Republicans: Rich Iott

Republican and Tea Party darling Rich Iott is running for congress in Ohio's 9th District. He also had an interesting hobby, playing Nazi by re-enacting a soldier in the Waffen SS. (Atlantic article.) Now Iott defends all this by pointing out his admiration for the military accomplishments of Germany. (See Atlantic article.) WHAT?! Germany invaded other countries, killing millions and committing atrocities. The Waffen SS was the armed wing of the Nazi Party. Oh, you crazy Republicans. Christine "I'm not a witch" O'Donnell. Carl "You won't see me at a gay pride parade" Paladino. And finally Rich "I'm not a Nazi, I just like playing one" Iott. Let's see what my guys Keith Olbermann and Stephen Colbert have to say about this insanity.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Rich Iott Wears a Nazi Uniform
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionMarch to Keep Fear Alive

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Looking at the Cincinnati Reds 2011

Well, the season is over. The Cincinnati Reds lost the NLDS to the Philadelphia Phillies. So, it's time to take a quick look at the 2011 season. I would not bring back Orland Cabrera. He's beginning to show his age. A trade could bring a high quality shortstop prospect. Plus, Paul Janish gives you a better defensive option with little drop off in offense. People have been complaining of Scott Rolen's playoff performance. I have a feeling that he played hurt because that was not the Scott Rolen that I saw during the season. However it might be time to consider resting him half the season and grooming his replacement, likely Juan Francisco. Right side of the infield is just great. Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto are All Stars. Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Hanigan are solid catchers and will hold the position until the Reds develop a starter. The outfield looks set. Yes, Drew Stubbs strikes way too much. But he'll get it. He does bring speed and power to the team. Plus he's just great in centerfield. Jay Bruce is a superstar in the making.

What about the pitching? The relievers look good. Logan Ondrusek, Jordan Smith, and Bill Bray are excellent middle inning guys. The back end looks good also. There's Arthur Rhodes who probably has a couple years left in the tank, Nick Masset who is a closer in the making, and Francisco Cordero. Check out the starters! We've got too many quality arms for five spots and that's a good thing. There might be a trade coming. I mean we've got Homer Bailey, Mike Leake, Bronson Arroyo, Travis Wood, Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto. Oh, and I forgot about the Cuban Missle, Aroldis Chapman. That's seven great arms!

Bengals Snatch Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

Here's the Cincinnati Bengals scenario for today. You're up by seven points with less than three minutes left in the game and you have the ball on your thirty eight yard line. It's third and thirteen. You've been pummeling them with the run all day. The defense was able to stop the opponent, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bungles,er the Bengals throw the ball into the teeth of the defense. Guess what happens? Tampa Bay picks it off. The defense decides to break down and Tampa Bay scores. WTF? If you were going to throw the ball, throw a screen or safe pass. If you don't make it then punt. The Buccaneers had no timeouts left. Play possession and win the freaking game. Ahhhhhhhhh. Bengals QB Carson Palmer then throws another pick. They drive into field goal range. Game Over. Ahhhhhhhhh. Ahhhhhhhh. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

No 3-D for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

Warner Brothers has announced that it will not be releasing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 in 3-D. The studio says the 3-D conversion will not be done in time for the November 19, 2010 release. However, Part 2 will be released in 3-D and 2-D on July 15, 2011.

Okay, that's a good thing. Because frankly 3-D conversions from 2-D generally suck. For example see the terrible conversion of "The Last Airbender." (2010) The movie was too dark on the screen. And there was no thought about setting up the 3-D. Piranha 3D (2010) actually worked better as a conversion because that movie was set up to be shot in 3-D before they filmed it 2-D due to the difficulty of using 3-D cameras. (Wikipedia article on Piranha 3D) Let's just hope that "Deathly Hallows" director David Yates had 3-D in mind when he was filming Part 2. Check out the trailer for Part One below.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fox News Falls For Jet Pack Hoax

The Huffington Post is reporting that Fox News, in the show Fox and Friends, was reporting that Los Angeles spent 1 billion dollars on jet packs. Below is the video from Mediaite showing the hosts of Fox News report it and discuss it. I'm guessing by their predisposition for anti-government spending that Fox News felt this was a good story on government waste. Too bad, Fox News lets its conservative motives drive the narrative.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Browns Beat Bengals?!

The Cleveland Browns beat the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20. The loss can be described as follows. Penalties. Turnovers. Breakdowns in protection. And Cleveland Browns Peyton Hillis ran over the Bengals. Game over. The silver lining? The Baltimore Ravens beat the Pittsburgh Steelers aka "The Bums from Pittsburgh." That leaves the Bengals one game behind the Steelers and the Ravens.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Social Network Review

Maybe everything does start with sex. I mean we're conceived by the act of sex. And according to the film, The Social Network, Facebook was conceived from a site comparing the attractiveness of females. Written by Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing) which is based on the book, The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich and directed by David Fincher, (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) The Social Network is the story of the founding of Facebook and its creators.

It's 2003. After being dumped by his girlfriend for being an arrogant snob, Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) in a drunken fit creates a website called Facemash that compares the attractiveness of female Harvard students. Hacking into various student databases, he posts pictures of females pittting them against each other with usesrs determining if they're hot. The website becomes so popular that it crashes Harvard's computer network. It becomes the inspiration for Facebook. For the stunt, Zuckerberg is given six months probation. Later, Harvard students, the Winklevoss twins ask Zuckerberg to create a social networking website for Harvard. With the financial help of his best friend, Edurado Saverin (Andrew Garfield), Zuckerberg creates Facebook. It starts out as a Harvard University social networking program but later the two expand it to other schools.

The Social Network is not just about creating computer code, it's a character study. Saverin is trying to get into a prestigious club and make it with women. Zuckerberg is a super nerd, who's unable to get past the vestibule of one of Harvard's exclusive clubs but whose computer brilliance is the driving force of his ambition. Physically both are not the type of guys who will get sex on their looks. But its their intellectual talents which will deliver them to the promised land. Money. Sex. See sex does start everything.

In their attempt to seek investors, they meet with Napster's founder, Sean Parker. (Justin Timberlake) With a large appetite for hedonism, Parker is looking for the next big thing on the Internet. Enamored with Parker's attack on the music industry, Zuckerberg believes Parker can help them exploit Facebook. They expand the website and attact investors. However, Saverin does not trust Parker leading to tension between the three of them. At a party for Facebook's one millionth subscriber, Saverin discovers his credit for the social network has been deleted and his financial stake has been significantly reduced. This causes a lawsuit between Saverin and Zuckerberg.

The direction and acting are all excellent. Director Fincher's films many of the scenes with subdued lighting and colors reflecting the moral ambiguity of Zuckerberg. Fincher keeps the action moving with no lost energy. Impressive, considering that there's no explosions in the movie. Jesse Eisenberg plays Zuckerberg as cold, intelligent and at times, he does show concern towards his best friend. Andrew Garfield is effective delivering a character who is cautious about where the company is going. Armie Hammer is perfect as the two rich and powerful Winklevoss twins. That's probably because Hammer is the great grandson of oil industrialist Armand Hammer. Justin Timberlake gives an effeminate and greedy take on Sean Parker. John Getz and David Selby play lawyers and they come off as genuine. The cast is perfect and everyone is believable.

Aaron Sorkin's script uses depositions from the two lawsuits filed against Zuckerberg by the Winklevoss twins and Saverin as a framing device. This is a novel and inspired way to deliver the narrative. As the lawyers question Zuckerberg and Saverin, the story is told in flashback. Dialogue sounds real. Even in scenes in which he introduces characters, none of it feels contrived. The irony is that Zuckerberg has virtually no social skills, yet he has created the ultimate social network for the twenty first century.

The Social Network is a story of greed, sex, and ambition. Zuckerberg is a brilliant computer programmer who became a billionaire. But the movie raises the question at what price. The Social Network is intelligent and superb filmmaking. The grade is A.