Published On: Fri, Oct 23rd, 2015

‘Steve Jobs’ Review: a jarring biopic, revealing the flawed Apple head

Steve Jobs opens across the country this Friday, October 23, 2015 following a limited release to select cities on October 9th.  I’m sure the theaters will be filled with techies and more mature audiences curious about the infamous computer wizard who revolutionized our modern gadgetry and the way we communicate in both professional and personal life.  But rather than portraying Jobs as a master of electronics, it shows him as a master manipulator, ego maniac, and an extremely flawed and dysfunctional individual trying to correct his mistakes as he grew on a personal level, if he was able to recognize that a mistake ever occurred at all.

It’s difficult to say if it’s a “good” or “bad” story.  Films based on real events either hit the mark or not depending on whose point of view is reflected.  I’m sure that those who knew Jobs are probably torn ….. some thinking he seems “too nice” with others thinking he seems like a big jerk (a milder term than used on-screen).  We know there are multiple sides to all stories and the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle of everyone’s recollections (an angle that is even touched on in the film).  So, let’s just focus on the rest of the film’s elements.

A huge thumbs up to Aaron Sorkin who wrote the screenplay and chose to tell the story and masterfully develop the characters by focusing on 3 major events (product launches) occurring over a 15 year period.   It’s very fast-paced, but doesn’t seem choppy at all.  While you would think that product launches are all business, Sorkin successfully wove in elements of Jobs’ personal life with his ex-girlfriend and their daughter along with the back-stabbing and self-promoting of the business world.

Steve Jobs film Seth Rogen as Woz Michael Fassbender picDanny Boyle’s direction demands recognition as well.  Aside from the flashbacks and breaks across the years, the individual segments flowed continuously like episodes of ER where George Clooney would glide from room to room and case to case without any coffee breaks in between.  Boyle’s “coffee breaks” are filled with archival news footage gently carrying the viewer across years at a time to the following product launch.  The grainier film effect used during the 1984 segment of the film was probably meant to subliminally give the impression of actual footage from that time, but to my HD-accustomed eyes, it was just a distraction and I was glad when we moved on to 1989.

But what about the actors?

With Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, and Jeff Daniels in the lead roles you expect the great performances they delivered.

However, Sorkin and Boyle still stand out to me as the true stars of the production.

Maybe it’s because Fassbender’s character was meant to be difficult to bond with emotionally so you remain detached from him, but your heart goes out to Winslet (as Jobs’ right hand and Marketing Director Joanna Hoffman) and Rogen (as the sweet Steve “Woz” Wozniak).  It’s a bit of a surprise seeing Rogen in a “serious” role, but he pulled it off without a single marijuana reference.  Granted, anyone who watched Woz during his time on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, knows he’s a big teddy bear, which probably made this an easier transitional step for Rogen.  But even the gentlest of us have moments of human frustration and Rogen hit it on the mark.  It will be interesting to see if this leads to more challenging roles in the future for him.

Be prepared for a bit of information overload.  The film’s 2:02 running time is jam packed with business concepts, marketing schemes, and the revelation of more smoke and mirrors than you would ever expect in such a hi-tech environment.  Not a “must-see” on the big screen unless you want to join in on the water cooler conversations and definitely not a film that will interest the whole family. The hype might unfortunately lead to a disappointment for many viewers.

Steve Jobs is more of a reflection on his life that minimizes his “idol status” and might make you rethink some decisions in your own life and relationships.

Steve Jobs earns 3 out of 5 stars

Author: Debbie Sage

Steve Jobs movie poster

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