This week’s new arrivals on DVD and Blu-ray include David Fincher’s The Social Network, an offline drama about the makings of an online giant; the horror-comedy Piranha, starring Elisabeth Shue, Jerry O’Connell, and Adam Scott; and the animated comedy Alpha And Omega.
The Social Network
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake, Andrew Garfield, Rashida Jones
Director: David Fincher
Lots of companies have great origin stories to tell, but few can live up to the story of how Facebook came to be the biggest website in the world. It’s a sordid, compelling tale that director David Fincher, and writer Aaron Sorkin crafted into what critics have hailed as one of the best films of 2010.
Based on Ben Mezrich’s book, The Accidental Billionaires, which tells the story of Harvard brainiac and sophomore Mark Zuckerberg, played in the film by Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network concentrates Zuckerberg’s story down from a few years worth of turmoil into two hours of genius storytelling.
Back in 2003, Zuckerberg was tinkering with an idea to create a MySpace-like site for university students. Starting off with a concept he dubbed Facesmash, where students could rate which campus women were hotter, the idea eventually evolved into something we all know today as Facebook, but the road to his success was not exactly direct. Zuckerberg’s biggest problems were the people he met along the way who would quickly come to feel ripped off by the way he seemed to absorb ideas to make his own plans better.
Two identical twins in particular, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who are both played by Armie Hammer, took Zuckerberg to court for intellectual property theft, but that’s just one part of the tale of the world’s most well known website. His best friend, played by Andrew Garfield, would also go on to sue Zuckerberg, all while Sean Parker, the creator of Napster, played here by Justin Timberlake, lends a helping hand to turn the company into a billion dollar website.
As a film fanatic, what really got me excited about The Social Network to begin with was the idea of famed television and film writer Aaron Sorkin working with one of America’s best directors, David Fincher. The two talents have a way with characters, and between Fincher’s direction and Sorkin’s expert dialogue, they make Zuckerberg’s story zing.
Eisenberg and the supporting cast are likewise adept at using Sorkin’s dialogue to create an unending chain of electric encounters between Zuckerberg and all of the people he comes to wrong throughout his assent to greatness. The film turns Zuckerberg’s image into that of an unflinching bull, who simply doesn’t care who he mauls to get to where he feels he deserves to go.
Easily one of my favorite films of 2010, The Social Network is a brilliant portrait and an unconventional biopic that will amaze you whether you care about Facebook or not. Whether Zuckerberg was creating Facebook, or some other monumental product, what matters is how the story is told, and Fincher is quite simply without many equals when it comes to powerful, and interesting, storytelling.
Piranha [Blu-ray 3D]
Starring: Elisabeth Shue, Jerry O’Connell, Adam Scott, Ving Rhames, Dina Meyer, Jessica Szohr, Riley Steele, Christopher Lloyd, Richard Dreyfuss
Director: Alexandre Aja /em>
What happens when a swarm of the most deadly creatures in history belly up to a vacation hot-spot for young, sexy, Americans? Well, you get one of the more off-beat 3D movies to debut since the fad took off, and it’s packed with cameos by some very funny co-stars.
Piranha is set in Lake Victoria, where Spring Breakers come every year to get their freak on. This year is a little different though as an underwater earthquake unleashes prehistoric piranha that are about to eat anything in sight, including most of those young, sexy Spring Breakers.
With a mix of horror and comedy, Piranha may not be the best movie ever, but it is bound to satisfy anyone who likes horror with a dose of swimsuits and 3D. It also stars the likes of Elisabeth Shue, Jerry O’Connell, Christopher Lloyd, and porn star Riley Steele.
As Tirdad Derakhshani wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer, “An awe-inspiring, stomach-churning journey into blood, gore, and boobs directed by one of France’s most talented horror auteurs, Alexandre Aja.”
The only catch is that if you want the 3D version of the film, you’re going to need one of those shiny, new 3D televisions and Blu-ray players, although I wonder if this is really the movie you’ll decide to make such a move.
Alpha And Omega
Starring: Justin Long, Hayden Panettiere, Christina Ricci, Danny Glover, Dennis Hopper, Larry Miller, Vicki Lewis, Kevin Sussman
Directors: Anthony Bell and Ben Gluck
In this animated comedy, two wolves are trying to get back home after they are trapped by park officials and shipped across the continent.
Kate, voiced by Hayden Panettiere, is the Alpha — she’s disciplined and ready to kick butt; Humphrey, voiced by Justin Long, is wise-cracking and fun-loving, and somehow they have to work together, get along, and find a way to get home.
Nick Schager of Time Out New York called the film “a dog in wolf’s clothing,” that he says “does little more than reconfirm the preeminence of Pixar.”
Andrew Barker of Variety was somewhat more kind, but just barely, when he wrote that it was “not without charm and bearing easy appeal to very young viewers.”