The Social Network Review

The Social Network's More Relevant Now Than When It Came Out

The Social Network is a 2010 film that follows Mark Zuckerberg as he creates and transforms Facebook. It stars Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield. Recently, we covered this movie on Cinemix, and we all loved it. It has a fantastic screenplay, some great acting, and it’s a compelling film overall. However, it does misrepresent some characters, and it “scapegoats” Sean Parker.

The Social Network follows Mark Zuckerberg, a Harvard nerd who gets in trouble after creating a system to rank girls online. He then begins to work on “The Facebook” using money from his friend Eduardo (played by Andrew Garfield.) Later however, it’s revealed that Mark possibly stole intellectual property from the Winklevoss twins, and they sue him.

This film has an incredibly tight script, and as far as movies based off of history, this is a model template. Although it portrays some characters wrongly, many if not all of the events in the movie are accurate. Additionally, unlike some other historical biographies such as Lincoln or Alexander, this movie is actually very engaging. The characters are compelling and charismatic, and the acting is fantastic.

Sadly however, some of the characters aren’t necessarily portrayed rightly. Sean Parker, an early business manager for Facebook is completely vilified in this movie, whereas in real life there are many accounts that he was the opposite. Even Mark Zuckerberg is portrayed a little extremely. In this movie he’s shown as this complete loser who has no friends. In real life, while he was nerdy, he did get girlfriends and he did have a friend group.

Overall, despite some light (and admittedly somewhat necessary) dramatization, the Social Network is a fantastic movie, and will go down in history as a classic. Additionally, this role has ensured Jesse Eisenberg will play nerds in movies until the end of time.

Murder on the Orient Express Review

Murder on the Orient Express is a 2017 film directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh. Sadly, I have not been able to write a review of this movie until now, despite covering it on the podcast about a month ago. I’ve been very busy with college work.

Murder on the Orient Express is an adaptation from the classic novel by Agatha Christie of the same name. It follows the famous Belgian Detective Hercule Poirot as he investigates a killing upon the Orient Express train. However, it is soon revealed that the case may be more complicated than originally thought.

I’m conflicted on this film. On one hand, it has a fantastic protagonist, and some good acting. However, on the other hand, the film is a bit sensationalized from the book, and despite it’s excellent cast, the movie never fully utilizes them. Hercule Poirot is a very charming protagonist. The movie introduces him expertly, and defines his character traits in the beginning very clearly. Kenneth Branagh is very likable, and his acting is fantastic in this film. That’s true for essentially all characters in this film. All are likable and function well within the story.

Sadly, the characters aren’t particularly memorable either. Despite this movie having one of the best casts in recent memory, it fails to use them much. William Dafoe is a very famous actor, and in this film he has a single scene. This is very disappointing, and feels like a missed opportunity. Additionally, this film feels very sensationalized from the book. Hercule Poirot is somewhat of an action hero in the film, whereas he’s much more reserved, and unlike in the film, he’s never shot. This feels rather strange, because on one hand, the movie sells itself as a sophisticated turn of the century mystery film, yet on the other hand it develops into die hard out of nowhere.

Overall, this movie is alright. It isn’t particularly memorable, but it’s a good film nonetheless. I think that they could’ve capitalized on the cast a bit more. If you’re considering watching this film, I highly recommend reading the book first.

Barbarians Review

Barbarians is a new German series that recently came out on Netflix. It stars Laurence Rupp, and follows Germanic tribes rebelling against the Roman Empire. In some ways, this is perhaps the most realistic show on Netflix at the moment, and it’s a fantastic one at that.

Barbarians follows Gaius Julius Arminius, a real historical figure, who is credited with giving the Romans one of their worst defeats of all time. He was a cavalry officer of Rome, but he was also the son of a German chieftain. The show realistically portrays the events surrounding his betrayal, and follows historical accounts very accurately.

The armor and clothes in this show, for the most part, are fantastic. Romans wear heterogeneous metal armor, unlike other shows where for some reason they wear leather (I’m looking at you Britannia.) Additionally, the Germanic tribes are also portrayed properly. All the Germans are wearing bright tunics and mukluks, with very minimal fur or leather. Both sides are also armed properly, with Germanic peoples using spears, while Romans use their pillums and gladius. Real historical characters surrounding the battle of Teutoburg Forest are also present in the show. Arminius’ wife Thusnelda, her father Segestes, and the Roman leader Varus are all major character in Barbarians, and are very true to their real life counterparts. The action in this show is excellent. The final battle is exhilarating, and brutal. Additionally, Arminius’ betrayal of the Roman Empire is handled realistically. He seems to betray them originally for selfish reasons, and later for a cause he believes in. It feels very well done and believable.

However, not all of the armor and weapons in the show are correct. The Germanic tribes charge into battle naked, which was not correct, they would most definitely be wearing some form of clothing or more likely some armor paired with a helmet. Arminius wears a lorica musculata, paired with a metal face mask. Lorica musculata were not used by Romans because they were extremely hard to make with Iron, and the face mask he uses, while a real artifact found at Teutoburg Forest, was not worn by cavalry officers, but rather by Standard Bearers, or cavalry soldiers during training, but not battle. Also, they use a gladius wrong in the show, as Arminius does not pair it with a shield, and he is swinging rather than stabbing. The gladius is a good weapon, but it must be paired with the traditional Roman tower shield.

Overall, Barbarians is a fun show. One can breeze through it in a weekend, and it’s got some excellent combat. So far, this might be the most historically accurate show out there, and it deserves high praise for that.

Top 5 Underrated Films

Number 5: In Bruges

In Bruges is a 2008 comedy action movie starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. It follows two hitmen hiding out in the Belgian city of Bruges (Brooge-z,) after a job went wrong. It’s funny, depressing, and has interesting themes of purgatory and morality sprinkled throughout. It’s one of my favorite films, and it is seriously under known and underrated.

Number 4: Woman in Gold

Woman in Gold is a 2015 movie starring Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds. It follows the true story of Maria Altmann, a woman who successfully sued the Austrian Government for possession of her family’s long lost painting, the Woman in Gold. This movie is very emotional, and it features some absolutely beautiful scenes. However, the story could be told with more energy, and it does have numerous flaws. This movie isn’t considered very highly, but I actually like it despite its problems, and I believe it’s well worth watching.

Number 3: Sorcerer

Sorcerer is a 1977 movie starring Roy Scheider. It follows convicts who are forced to transport liquid nitrogen through a jungle in trucks. Liquid nitrogen, is an extremely explosive material, which can blow up at even the slightest movement. This movie is very under known, despite it being directed by William Friedkin. This is because Sorcerer came out in the same year as Star Wars, which simply overshadowed everything released. Despite that, I think this movie is excellent. It has absolutely one of the highest tension moments in all of cinema, when they have to bring a truck across a rope-bridge in a hurricane. My knuckles were literally white during this scene. Sorcerer also contains numerous psychological elements, and it’s simply a fantastic movie, that does not get enough attention.

Number 2: The Secret of Kells

The Secret of Kells is a 2008 animated movie. It follows Irish monks attempting to finish the famed book of Kells, before Vikings invade their lands. One of the sad realities of having studios such as Pixar churning out animated blockbusters every year, is that other animated movies do not receive enough attention. This film falls into that category. It has absolutely some of the most beautiful animated visuals you will see in your lifetime, drawing inspiration directly from the Book of Kells itself. Additionally, for an animated film, it’s surprisingly scary at times, the Vikings still creep me out to this day with their black staunchly contrasting the vibrancy of the Irish world. It’s an incredible film, and it should be considered one of the best animated movies ever made.

Number 1: Stardust

Stardust a 2007 film based off of the novel by Neil Gaiman. It follows a young man as he rescues a Star in human form from a coven of witches, with the help of a cursed prince, and a transgender pirate captain. This is in my eyes possibly the most underrated movie ever made. It is undoubtedly one of the best fantasy films of all time, and it’s a joy to watch. It has a very imaginative story, some fantastic scenes, and Robert Deniro as a transgender sky pirate, who doesn’t want to see that? Stardust is amazing, and it’s criminally underrated.

Titanic Review

Titanic is a 1997 movie directed by James Cameron, and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. It follows two people on the ship Titanic, as they try to overcome class distinctions, and escape the ship as it sinks. Overall, although this movie is truly epic in scope, I found it a little “cheesy” and precious.

Titanic follows Jack, a poor traveler who manages to hitch a ride on the ship Titanic right before it sets sail. While on the ship, he stops a rich woman named Rose from committing suicide, and the two fall in love despite the evident class distinctions between them. However, their time together is cut short when the Titanic begins to sink, and they must find a way to survive.

Titanic is a massive film. They built a real ship for shooting that was almost the size of the actual Titanic, and this film is very historically accurate. Real historical characters such as Thomas Andrews or James Bruce Ismay are portrayed extremely accurately, down to their respective death and escape being correct. Additionally, the manner in which the ships sinks is also historically accurate. James Cameron did very thorough research before making this movie, and it really paid off. The main characters, Jack and Rose, are very charming, and they have a believable relationship, with some great scenes, such as when Rose visits the third class.

The relationship itself however, while charming in the beginning, feels a little sappy and precious at the end. This is purely subjective, and I have friends who actually like this particular aspect of their relationship, but personally I didn’t.

Titanic is a good film. I don’t believe it’s one of the best films ever as some people make it out to be, but it is a good historical love story, and one worth seeing.

Inside Out Review

Inside Out is a 2015 animated film made by Pixar and Disney. It follows the story of a girl’s emotions as they attempt to reunite inside her head, and help her undergo a troubling time in her life. This movie has become a bit of a meme among those I know, thanks to my friend Alexa’s constant urging to review it. Finally, I’ve relented, and decided to review it.

Inside Out follows Riley, an 11 year old girl who moves from Minnesota to California. However, in the world of Inside Out, emotions such as Anger or Fear are personified within people’s heads, and the emotions run a sort of factory or command center, to determine their respective person’s course of action. However, when Riley’s emotions of Joy and Sadness get lost inside her head, Riley is left unable to be properly controlled.

This movie has an interesting world, and much of it is fleshed out. It’s quite entertaining to see and learn how various sections of Riley’s brain work, and how they correspond to her real life. Additionally, this movie appeals to audiences more than some of Pixar’s other films, as it’s grounded in reality somewhat, as opposed to their more fantastical films. Inside Out contains a message that usually isn’t seen among children’s movies, which is that sometimes it’s alright to be sad. Now while this may resonate with children, I’m not sure it will with all adults, the way that films such as Up or WALL-E have with their messages. Now that isn’t to say this movie isn’t emotional, as it has one of the saddest cartoon deaths, second only to the Iron Giant. If you don’t feel something when Bing Bong dies, you’re not human.

Inside Out contains a lot of annoying characters, even by children’s movies standards. Joy, Sadness, and Riley, the main characters, are all incredibly irritating, and frankly not even that likable, especially when compared with other Pixar protagonists, who are usually fantastic. This got on my nerves a lot, and I found it rather hard to like this movie when the characters drove me crazy.

Overall, Inside Out is alright. Although it has some unique ideas and memorable scenes, it’s not as good as most other Pixar films such as Ratatouille or The Incredibles. It’s merely okay. However I know this film has proven to be VERY popular among my friend group due to my lack of a review on it being turned into a meme. Well, until now at least. Regardless it’s worth a watch to make your own judgement on as it’s a polarizing film.

Get Out Review

Get Out is a 2017 horror film, directed by Jordan Peele, and starring Daniel Kaluuya and Addison Williams. It follows an African American photographer who visits his white girlfriends’s family, soon however, it’s revealed the family may have sinister plans for him. This a fantastic horror movie, and it’s also very well directed. However, I don’t particularly like the twist or ending, as they both seem strange in this film.

Get Out follows Chris, an African American photographer. He decides to visit his new girlfriend Rose’s parents. This turns out to be a mistake however, as her parents seem to have sinister intentions for Chris.

This movie is fantastically directed. Jordan Peele did an excellent job with maintaining tension throughout scenes, as well as placing hidden details within the movie that foreshadow the plot. The acting in this movie is also amazing. Daniel Kaluuya has some scenes that are really a testament to his ability. Additionally, there’s one scene where Georgina, the maid of the house is smiling widely while sobbing at the same time, and it’s an incredible scene. This movie also presents racism in America very well, although the twist that occurs, in my eyes at least, undermines this theme.

There’s a twist towards the end of the movie there’s a twist straight of science fiction. Personally, I found it out of place in a movie so grounded in our modern world like this. I also felt it undermined the theme of racism throughout the film.

I liked Get Out. Jordan Peele is an excellent Director, and I think overall he knocked it out of the park with this film. It’s a refreshing take on the horror genre, and I enjoyed it a lot.

Blade Runner 2049 Review

Blade Runner 2049 is the 2017 sequel to the original Blade Runner movie. It’s directed by Denis Villeneuve, and stars Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford. It follows a replicant Blade Runner as he uncovers a mystery that could rock the entire infrastructure of L.A.

Blade Runner 2049 takes place 30 years after the events of the original Blade Runner. It follows K, a replicant Blade Runner who is forced to track down a possible replicant chid. If true, a discovery like that would cause replicants around the city to rise up and overthrow humanity.

I absolutely loved Ryan Gosling in this film. He’s very believable, and he’s an “ordinary Joe.” Something that figures itself into the themes of this movie, as it’s essentially about a single man versus an entire Conglomerate of biblical proportions. Additionally, although this movie is significantly longer than the original Blade Runner, it’s much better paced. Action often breaks up long segments of beautiful vista scenes. Speaking of which, the action in this movie is fantastic, in particular the final fight. The choreography is much better than the original, and it’s at times hard to watch because of how realistic and brutal it is. Another thing I liked about this film is that it preserved the ambience of the original. Blade Runner isn’t an action film series, it’s a neo-noir. And thankfully, this movie feels like a fitting successor to the original.

One thing I hated about this film however was the villain. Wallace simply pales in comparison to Roy Batty. Wallace is boring, creepy, needless, and frankly he could’ve been cooler had we never met him. Also, David Bowie was supposed to be cast in this role prior to his death. He would’ve done a much better job than Jared Leto, and it saddens me to think of this wasted potential.

Overall, Blade Runner 2049 is a worthy successor that in some ways surpasses the original Blade Runner. Sadly this movie did terribly at the box office, and it isn’t terribly well known. That being said, it’s excellent and worth watching.

Blade Runner Review

Blade Runner is a 1982 film directed by Ridley Scott, and starring Harrison Ford. It’s revolutionary both as a sci-fi film, and as a film in general. It follows a cop hired to hunt down rogue androids. Overall, despite some pacing issues, Blade Runner remains one of the best sci-ci films ever made, and a true classic.

Blade Runner follows Rick Deckard, a specialized form of a cop called a Blade Runner. His task as one of these cops, is to hunt down and “retire” rogue androids, called replicants.

This movie tackles some pretty tough concepts, in particular, what is a human. Often at times, the Replicants seem more “human” than Deckard. And they just want to do human activities such as to find jobs and live their lives. Harrison Ford is great here as Deckard, and he really seems to be questioning his jobs and morality throughout the film. Additionally, Rutger Hauer is fantastic as the villain, Roy Batty. His final monologue with the iconic “Tears in the Rain” line is unforgettable. I also absolutely loved the cyberpunk aspect of the film. The design and special effects are fantastic, and they still hold up even years later.

One thing about this movie that doesn’t hold up however, is the pacing. It’s absolutely terrible. Nothing happens for half the film and then the other is filled with action. The ending also comes out of nowhere it seems. It feels almost like a Kubrick film in that sense. The plot can also be very confusing depending on the version you watch, personally I recommend the theatrical cut as it’s the most understandable.

Overall, although it’s a confusing film at times, Blade Runner is a classic, and one that hold up surprisingly well even after all these years. It deserves to be seen, as it can be a polarizing film, but personally I loved it.

Firefly Review

Lately, I’ve been on a big sci-if binge. Firefly is a 2003 tv series created by Joss Whedon, and starring Nathan Fillion. It follows the crew of a spaceship after an interplanetary civil war. This is a very strange tv show, and one that you’ll either love, or hate. It’s got some absolutely lovable characters, and a really interesting setting, but the episodes vary in qualities, and sometimes they’re just downright weird.

Firefly follows the crew of the Serenity, an old spaceship that seems to barely hold together. After they lose a civil war against people who are essentially space Nazis, they flee and do odd jobs on the run. Although the premise is rather simple, it works. Joss Whedon really fleshes out the universe of Firefly, with interesting peoples and monsters. Sadly the show only ran for one season, as Fox cancelled it after airing it out of order.

For starters, the characters in this show are great. Nathan Fillion as captain Malcolm Reynolds is one of my favorite characters in fiction because of his dry wit and funny one liners. The rest of the cast are just as great. The line delivery and quips throughout the show are hilarious. And although this show does not sell itself as a comedy, overall it’s really funny. The universe of Firefly is also very rich and lends itself to a lot of opportunities. The weird mesh between allegories for the civil war, to colonialism, to the horrors that are reavers all work. It lends itself to a lot of opportunities, and it’s a shame it hasn’t been explored more in other media.

Firefly is also very clunky and unpolished. The dialogue at times is rather cringe-worthy. And although the talented cast does their best with it, some cracks do show. Although Inara as a character is good, any sub-plot with her job throughout the show is basically skippable. Some characters such as Simon or Kaylee can be annoying at times, although not too often. Strangely enough, the weird nature of Firefly is part of its charm, and why it’s considered a cult classic.

Overall, despite it’s weirdness and cracks, I liked Firefly. It’s probably one of my favorite tv shows, and it’s incredibly charming. It’s worth giving it a shot, even if you don’t end up liking it.