"The Social Network" isn't all computers and coding. From a production standpoint, it's sumptuous. Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor teamed with composer Atticus Ross to create a throbbing soundtrack that infuses drama into sequences that might otherwise be mundane.
Attention to detail abounds. While Harvard's campus might seem slightly more attractive in the film than in real life, "The Social Network" stays true to the tone of the school, down to a "Beat Cornell" proclamation written in snow on the back of a car.
Fincher has made sure there are plenty of pleasing characters to take in, like Justin Timberlake, who exudes sexy arrogance in his portrayal of Napster founder Sean Parker. The first time Timberlake comes on screen, he's shirtless with a girl on top of him (of course).
But he's more than meets the eye: Conniving and cloying, at times, Timberlake's Parker is downright evil, willing to do and say anything to get on Facebook's payroll.
"Look at my face and tell me I don't know what I'm talking about," Parker tells Zuckerberg at a nightclub, multi-colored lights contorting his face like a monster's.
Then there's Andrew Garfield, the soon-to-be Spider-Man who plays Eduardo Saverin, Facebook's co-founder and Zuckerberg's only friend. Garfield's Saverin is a smart, sweet heartthrob, a could've-been, would've-been household name who gets steamrolled by Zuckerberg when his plans for Facebook outpace Saverin's conceptions of what a social network can be. Garfield proves he can play a loyal confidant as well as he can a stabbed-in-the-back best friend: His fits of rage prompt the sort of fist-clenching usually reserved for thrillers.
But then, "The Social Network" is a thriller in its own way. It's mind boggling to think that a Web site that was launched seven years ago now occupies the kind of status in society usually set aside for life staples like cars and microwaves. To some, Facebook is as essential as those necessities, if not more so.
In reality, the fake Mark Zuckerberg got his wish: power. And the movie that tells the story of how he obtained it is no less awe-inspiring.