Review: Steve Jobs

In 1984, Apple launched a commercial during the Super Bowl advertising the imminent release of the Macintosh, a system that founder and CEO Steve Jobs laboriously poured all of energy into believing that it would be a groundbreaking revelation. At the time, the ad was considered the greatest Super Bowl Commercial in recent history.

Suffice to say that the commercial did build up the hype behind the Macintosh but the system ultimately proved to be its undoing.

Image by Universal

Fast-forward 21 years, and you see the trailer for Steve Jobs and in this trailer you see big names associated with the picture. Michael Fassbender in the title/lead role, supported by Seth Rogen, Kate Winslet and Jeff Daniels, under the direction of Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle, and Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin.

The hype and anticipation behind the trailer builds this film up and what you are left with is pretty cut-and-dry; Steve Jobs is a portrait of the man who built Apple Computer, balancing his personal struggles with his co-founder Steve Wozniak, CEO John Scully, his personal assistant Joanna Hoffman, his baby-mama Chrisanne Brennan, his daughter Lisa and Andy Hertzfeld, with the ups-and-downs at his tenure with Apple.

All of the elements that compel you to believe that this is a great movie is there; everything from the acting, directing, writing, camerawork, effects etc, is top-notch however if you take a look at Steve Jobs as a whole, you just don’t feel as if this is one of the “great” movies of 2015. This is a good movie with a lot to offer, but it just falls short somehow and I ended up disappointed because I wanted to love this movie rather than just like it. I went in with high expectations but sadly my expectations were not met.

I did say that this movie did get some things right compared to the previous Steve Jobs biopic. For instance I felt that the filmmakers made a wise call in just focusing on the computer moguls staple achievements, or failures, in his career such as the launch of the Macintosh, the unveiling of the Cube and the launch of the iMac and delve into the man’s personal struggles with those around him at those pivotal moments. It was a wise call because it keeps you in the moment of what is he thinking and how does his actions affect those close to him?

By Gordon Correll (Michael Fassbender), via Wikimedia Commons

In this picture, Steve Jobs wore many different hats. He was a maverick, a madman, a visionary, a tyrant, a genius, a jerk, a man who was ahead of his time, he was all these things and Michael Fassbender was absolutely on the money with his performance. His portrayal as the unpredictable pioneer of one of the most prestigious computer companies in the world should land him in the discussion for the Best Actor ballot.

Kate Winslet’s portrayal as Joanna Hoffman should mark another highlight on her already extraordinary credentials as one of the industries most versatile, and impeccable performers. Her role as Steve’s aide, his Jiminy Cricket, is constant, she and Steve are hand-in-hand throughout most of the feature and they are constantly at the same level in terms of performance.

Jeff Daniels, Seth Rogen, Katherine Waterston and Michael Stuhlberg answer the call to deliver amazing performances on the backbone of Aaron Sorkin’s amazingly detailed screenplay, which meshes nicely with Boyle’s distinct and colorful vision for Steve Jobs.

The problem? Maybe-and I can’t believe I’m saying this-it goes back to Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay. He’s one of my favorite writers and I just love his snappy tone and the attention to detail he invokes in his storytelling process but maybe this time he goes just a little overboard with the attention to detail. I felt that with such dialogue there wasn’t a moment where the film could stop and breathe; there was no distinct moment where dialogue wasn’t in the room.

I found the film beautifully photographed. Alwin H. Küchler’s cinematography was stunning; for instance the image of an empty row of seats in an auditorium prior to the launch of the Macintosh was so mesmerizing it reminded me of a lesson I learned regarding the rule of thirds. There was a great degree of artistry in the camerawork and the camera motions and it all had aesthetic purpose.

I thought Elliot Graham’s editing was crisp and concise; between the central moments and flashbacks, it didn’t really feel as if you were jumping back and forth through time, it felt smooth and cohesive to the narrative visually and it was successful.

When it comes to biopics, this was Steve Jobs’ second turn at bat. The first time with Jobs, he struck out. Badly. This time with Steve Jobs, he managed to get on base but everyone, including myself, was hoping that he could score and I was disappointed that he didn’t.

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