Steve Jobs, hits cinemas February 4 and stars Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels, is directed by Brit Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later and Slumdog Millionaire) and written by my all-time favourite screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, The American President, The Social Network and Moneyball, and his TV shows The West Wing and The Newsroom, amongst others).
Wait a moment!, I hear you thinking, wasn’t there a Steve Jobs biopic out recently? Yes, indeed, a couple of years ago (barely a year after Steve Jobs’ death), Ashton Kutcher starred as the Apple founder and CEO in the film Jobs, which apparently wasn’t very good (I haven’t seen it). However, I had much more hope for this film, not just because of the acting talent involved, but because of the attachment of two movie heavyweights in Boyle and Sorkin. I was excited from the first trailer.
The structure of this film is quite different. It plays out in three acts – the few minutes leading up to each of three major Computer Product Launches presented by Steve Jobs in 1984 (the Macintosh), 1988 (NEXT’s Black Cube) and 1998 (the iMac). This was a very different way of presenting Steve Jobs and his legacy, and during each of these pre-product launch scenarios, there were also multiple flashbacks showing other major events in Steve Jobs’ life and career (such as the famous initial setup of Apple in the garage with Steve Wozniak). Woven throughout these pre-product launch scenes was also the strained relationship Jobs had with his young daughter Lisa, of whom he denied paternity of for a long time.
Fassbender’s portrayal of Steve Jobs over 14 years of the film was very a good, bordering on great, performance. In particular, the way he showed Jobs to be a genius when it came to creating products, and yet be a complete tool when it came to his personal relationships, is the basis of this film, and as a viewer I found it interesting to be both inspired and disgusted by who Steve Jobs was as a person. Kate Winslet was good as Jobs’ long-suffering personal assistant, and Jeff Daniels as Apple’s first major CEO John Sculley added serious acting weight to some meaty scenes between he and Fassbender. I particularly liked Seth Rogen’s performance as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and for a well known comedian Rogen showed me once again that he’s quite good handling a dramatic role. His scene facing off against Fassbender before the iMac Launch is powerful, and all eyes in the cinema were glued to the screen.
However, some of the scenes were tough to follow, particularly when swapping in and out of all the flashbacks, and Sorkin’s script was not as punchy as I’ve become accustomed to. Some of the plot points also seemed a little compressed to fit in with the structure of this film (the three pre-product launch scenarios). This is not either Danny Boyle’s nor Aaron Sorkin’s best work by any stretch – I’ve seen better from both of them. And if you’re not a tech-head nor have an interest in the history of Apple or Steve Jobs, then some of the technobabble may be a little hard to understand. I myself gained some more insight into the history of Apple (particularly the history of Jobs’ NEXT company), so that was cool to see.
A really good film, with elements within it that are awesome.
Reviewed by David Emms