The Social Network Blu-ray Review
'The Social Network' logs on to UK Region free Blu-ray with a very filmic 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 encode, framed in the widescreen 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The subtle use of low lighting levels help maintain a very natural look rather than the clinically efficient digital feel on the interiors which also benefit from a slightly yellowish glow. We get a very moody looking image as a result. As it was shot digitally, there’s no grain to be seen but that doesn’t stop it looking like film due to the creative use of depth of field. It would be wrong to assume that the image looks soft because eyes are sharp and there’s plenty of detail to be seen here. There’s a fairly dark colour palette on the interiors, but when we cut to exteriors such as the boat race there’s a great vibrancy. Blacks are just the way we like them, nice and deep, and contrast is healthy throughout. A very good encode that looks so much like film.
The audio on ‘The Social Network’ comes in a DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround flavour that really does immerse the audience in the on screen world. For a movie that is so dialogue driven, there is quite a lot of work going on in the surround speaker and subwoofer departments.
Whenever the characters are in a noisy environment like a bar, their conversation is sometimes hard to make out due to the hubbub going on around them – just like in real life. You have to concentrate on their centre weighted speech and focus on their lips to ensure you get nearly every syllable. In office environments, you hear the sound of the aircon coming from the surrounds. In a dance club scene the authentic bass seemed to kick me in the chest while the characters carried on their conversation. This is a very dynamic mix. In quieter scenes, the fine detail is there on the surrounds too, such as people typing on keyboards in the background.
It’s different from most sound mixes as the ambient noise would normally be faded down during close ups of conversations. In ‘The Social Network’ the level of the surround effects is left that little bit higher, constantly reminding the audience of the environment. Some people may find this a bit odd, but it’s what the director intended. A good, interesting mix that’s just a little bit different.
The Collector’s Edition of ‘The Social Network’ comes on 2 discs. Disc 1 contains the movie and audio commentaries while Disc 2 houses the rest of the supplements.
Audio Commentaries – We get not one but two audio commentaries on ‘The Social Network. On the first, director David Fincher flies solo as he enthusiastically fills us in on all aspects of this production. He covers setting the film's tone from the very outset, the casting of Jesse Eisenberg, and various shooting locations. He’s very analytical as he points out what he considers to be his own poor choices as well as praising his cast. Some kind soul has bleeped out his swear words, but overall this is a very interesting piece.
The second commentary track has scriptwriter Aaron Sorkin, along with cast members Jesse Eisenberg (recorded separately), Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake (also recorded separately), Armie Hammer, and Josh Pence. This is a bit more light hearted as they share many film making anecdotes and there’s a certain amount of camaraderie. The two different comm. tracks complement each other well without too much repetition of content.
How Did They Ever Make a Movie of Facebook (HD, 93 mins) – This is probably the most comprehensive and detailed documentary I’ve ever seen about the making of a film. We witness director Fincher directing his actors, working with writer Sorkin to interpret the script and setting up shots on set. This featurette can either be viewed in four separate parts or as a ‘play all’ and covers the rehearsal process with the cast getting to grips with the screenplay, make-up and costume tests, casting and auditions. We get interviews with Eisenberg as well as the other actors on their experiences and the development of their performances. We hear of Fincher's preference for doing many takes – all backed up with lots of production footage. I was astounded at the use of CGI in creating the Winklevoss twins. Fascinating stuff.
Jeff Cronenweth and David Fincher on the Visuals (HD, 8 mins) – Fincher and his director of photography discuss the look of the film, the requirement for low lighting, the use of depth of field, Harvard’s unhelpfulness towards the film makers and the reasons for choosing the Red One system to shoot the movie.
Angus Wall, Kirk Baxter and Ren Klyce on Post (HD, 17 mins) – This is a nicely detailed look at the editors and sound designer’s work on the movie as they piece it together from the many different shots and alternate angles. They even go into the psychology behind the editing decisions. We get to see director Fincher directing a sequence on set intercut with the finished scene in the movie. On the audio side we’re allowed to hear various scenes with isolated sound elements so we can witness the effect of each addition to the mix. A thoroughly interesting featurette on the post production side of movie making.
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and David Fincher on the Score (HD, 19 mins) – Here, the composers and the director discuss how they wanted the music score to be unintrusive in the sound mix. We hear of their creative process and see how they worked with Fincher. We get a chance to see clips of the movie with only the score so we can appreciate its effect in isolation.
In the Hall of the Mountain King: Music Exploration (HD, 3 mins) – We are given the opportunity, via this interactive feature, to toggle between various versions of the music for the regatta scene, where the composers used Grieg's 'In the Hall of the Mountain King.' It’s good to see it grow into the final mix.
Swarmatron (HD, 4 mins) – Composer Trent Reznor demonstrates the swarmatron, a new electronic instrument used in the film's score.
Ruby Skye VIP Room: Multi-Angle Scene Breakdown (HD, 19 mins) – Take one scene and break it down into its component parts. Use the remote to toggle between four options - rehearsal, interviews, tech scout, and principal photography. Excellent for anyone on a media course.
‘The Social Network’ arrives on Region free UK Blu-ray with a very good looking 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 encode framed in the widescreen 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Despite being shot digitally, the movie looks incredibly filmic. A fairly muted colour palette with a slight yellow cast on interiors with much use of depth of field together with healthy contrast provides a very atmospheric image.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround track immerses the audience in the on screen environment where you occasionally have to strain your ears to catch every syllable of dialogue due to ambient effects – just like in real life. A dynamic mix.
A very comprehensive batch of extras include two commentaries and a feature length ‘Making of’ documentary, amongst other goodies.
Director David Fincher picked up the BAFTA for his direction of this very recent, absorbing tale of the phenomenal growth of Facebook, with credible performances from Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake and Andrew Garfield. An Oscar contender for sure.
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