Social Network: Mini Review, The (UK - BD)
Chris Gould has just finished watching The Social Network on Blu-ray. Like...
It’s time for another mini-review, this time focussing on the critically acclaimed David Fincher feature The Social Network, which purports to tell the story behind the creation of Facebook, but is ultimately a film about friendship and betrayal. I recently saw the feature for the first time as part of Orange’s BAFTA tour so it’s still pretty fresh in the memory, but I was still eager to see how the Blu-ray stacked up against that experience. I'm not going to get into a lengthy discussion about the film's plot, but it's worth pointing out that the film is a fictionalised account of the events surrounding the creation of the world's biggest social networking site, and as such a lot of dramatic licence has been taken. It was only reading about events after seeing the film that I came to realise how much of the plot had been embellished, so I urge you not to take everything at face value (a documentary this isn't), but it makes for a thoroughly entertaining film with strong central performances from Eisenberg and Garfield. Anyway, without further ado, let's check out the Blu-ray release of the film from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
The Social Network was shot digitally using RED ONE cameras at 4K resolution, which has resulted in a Blu-ray transfer that is nothing short of fantastic. Having only seen the film for the first time at my local cinema around six days ago the look of the picture is still quite fresh in my mind, so I feel quite confident in saying that the BD replicates the theatrical look very closely. In fact, it’s actually an improvement over the theatrical screening, being that it’s devoid of the unsightly nicks and scratches that covered that particular print. The palette is generally quite muted, with many of the interior scenes exhibiting the sort of warm glow presumably designed to evoke feelings of dimly lit dormitories and the like, but the exterior scenes are more colourful and the primary Facebook colour of blue is well-represented throughout. Speaking of dim lighting, much of the film takes place in what could be described as dingy locations, so the importance of solid black levels coupled with good shadow detail cannot be overstated. Thankfully the disc excels in both areas. Overall detail is also impressive, and thankfully the digital nature of the image hasn’t resulted in any particularly noticeable artefacts. I did spot some minor haloing in some scenes, but I can’t be sure whether it’s an issue with the transfer or inherent to the source. Either way it doesn’t really detract from what is a superb image.
As with the video, The Social Network's aural qualities are very impressive. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track features some wonderful ambient effects, and nowhere is this more ably demonstrated than in the opening bar scene in which the chatter of the patrons sets the mood nicely. It's true that during this and other scenes dialogue does appear to be competing to be heard, but this seems to be an intentional move on the part of the filmmakers (at least if the supplements are to be believed). Each and every sound effect has been crafted to compliment the subject matter, including the tapping of keyboards, the whirring of hard drives, and the bleeping of computers. The organic score is also hugely important to the success of the soundtrack as a whole, perfectly complimenting the on-screen action. It's also during a number of the electronic pieces that the subwoofer gets to flex its muscles, serving up the sort of deep, throbbing bass that wouldn't feel out of place in an action blockbuster. This is another one of those films that goes to show you don't need flashy set-pieces to deliver an incredible aural experience; one that actually eclipses the visuals for me.
At first glance the bonus material doesn't look to be all that impressive, but a closer look reveals some genuinely interesting and informative content. The first disc includes not one, but two audio commentaries, with participation from director David Fincher, writer Aaron Sorkin and members of the cast. Disc two includes the bulk of the supplements, including a feature-length making of documentary that covers just about everything you could want to know about the production by way of interviews with all involved. There are also a number of shorter featurettes that focus on the film's cinematography, sound design and post-production, along with a couple of multi-angle sequences and alternate music cues. The documentary really is the stand-out piece here, offering plenty of behind-the-scenes footage and 'talking heads' style interviews with just about all of the principal cast and crew. The only weakness is the lack of input from people like Mark Zuckerberg, but given the film's tone it's hardly surprising that neither he or the other interested parties are involved. I enjoyed the cinematography and score featurettes, particularly the latter, as Trent Reznor goes into a lot of detail about the process and shows us just how important the role of a composer is to a film's success. On the whole this is a pretty nice collection of features.
Even taking into account the above comments about the veracity of the events depicted in the feature, The Social Network is still one of the best films of 2010 (even if I didn't see it until 2011). Eisenberg and Garfield steal the show, but everyone from Justin Timberlake and Armie Hammer, to smaller players like Brenda Song and Rooney Mara, put in decent performances. Technically the Blu-ray is great, with fantastic visuals, a truly memorable soundtrack and a worthy collection of extras, so I have no hesitation in recommending this one to anyone and everyone.
* Note: The images below are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Chris Gould
Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over
Release Date: 14th February 2011
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 French, Audio Descriptive Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles: Arabic, Danish, Dutch, English, English HoH, Finnish, French, Hindi, Norwegian, Swedish
Extras: Audio Commentaries, Making of, Technical Featurettes, Multi-Angle Scene Breakdown
Easter Egg: No
Director: David Fincher
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, Max Minghella, Brenda Song, Rooney Mara
Length: 120 minutes
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