Director: Danny Boyle
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlbarg, Sarah Snook, Katherine Waterston
Rated: R (language)
Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution, to paint a portrait of the man at its epicenter. The story unfolds backstage at three iconic product launches, ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac.
By Matt Greene
According to this most recent of several Apple-founder biopics, Steve Jobs the man (Fassbender) was a delusional, self-absorbed pioneer with a God-complex to end all god-complexes. He was a less-than-fun dude, to say the least, who changed the helped world. I was hyper-aware that the thoughts I was taking on his faulty and fruitful life were being noted on a device that he created, one that 40 years ago would’ve taken up a large conference room and now fits in my pocket. These huge revelations have become his legacy…but should they have? Fassbender, Boyle and writer Sorkin, each among the best at their jobs, propose that Steve’s professional successes may have been the cause of his personal flaws.
The plot is a screenwriting construction; set during three different product launches and the minutes that lead up to them, Jobs (barely) tries to balance his two children, the more important his current product. The entire film is Sorkin’s patented “walking-and-talking” trademark, yet never drags even at its 2+ hours length. Director Boyle, while relatively restrained, finds plenty of appropriate moments to display his skill for visual pop.
However, the main cinematic thrills all come from the dialogue, as if the words are explosions in an action movie. Some people criticize Sorkin (Social Network, “West Wing”) because his dialogue doesn’t feel natural, the rapacious repartee undercut by over-explanation, and moments standing out as feeling “written”. However, I usually just find myself wishing my friends and I spoke the way he writes. Add in line-deliverers like Fassbender, Winslet, Rogen, Daniels, and Stuhlbarg, Jobs end result is a hypnotic and highly entertaining capsule of a man at the center of the computer generation.
4 out of 5 Stars
By Cole Schneider
It should be mentioned first that the dialogue in “Steve Jobs” is wonderfully entertaining. That entertainment value buoyed the film throughout its first 2.5 acts and even briefly after leaving the theater. For a film that follows a megalomaniac who has few redeeming qualities beyond genius, “Steve Jobs” is a mostly pleasant moviegoing experience.
But it shouldn’t be.
There are many problems with the film, but there are two which tear it apart from the inside out. First is the structure. It’s really a 3 act play in which we follow Jobs at three marquee moments in his professional life. However, since this is a movie about the man more than his Apple products, each of these events follows a cyclical pattern wherein other characters show up to comment on how his personal life is poorly intersecting with that professional life. By the end it has become tiresome, even tedious to see these well drawn characters forced into these absurd constructs.
The second and most damning problem is the relationship he has with one of these characters and how the film plays it out. What begins as a benign story point swallows the outer film in the third act and in doing so betrays all pre-existing conflicts. It’s passed off as a “happy” ending, but it’s not; it’s a sad, dishonest reduction of a complex man with twisted values. The last 15 minutes not only lacks the witty banter of the it’s preceding material, it negates it.
“Steve Jobs” is sharp, acerbic Hollywood entertainment, but it masquerades as a film with a higher standard. ‘Tis the season for costuming, but this isn’t enough of a treat to cover up its hackneyed trick.
2 out of 5 Stars