Thanks to Universal Pictures, we had the chance to see ‘Steve Jobs’ before its national release. This is our review of the film, but – as usual – no matter what we say, we recommend that you still go to your local cinema and see it, because there is not better critic than yourself!
Steve Jobs is the second film about the late Apple-genius in less than three years after 2013’s ‘jOBS’ starring Ashton Kutcher. Although its lead actor looked spot-on like the actual Jobs, the film was very much a by the book biopic, and as a result it felt like a made-for-TV-movie. Director Danny Boyle and writer Aaron Sorkin have taken a very different approach; although they based their story on Walter Isaacson’s 2011 biography of the iMac Daddy, they condensed it into three scenes that all take place just before a major product launch.
We first see Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) in 1984, as he is just about to announce the Macintosh computer. Minutes before he is set to appear onstage, his ex-partner pops up in his dressing room together with their young daughter. After a paternity test Jobs still publicly denies being the father of the little girl, which obviously upsets his ex. His Head of Marketing Joanna Hoffmann (Kate Winslet) tries to keep the peace. Straight away we see Jobs as a heartless jackass, and this image is only solidified when we see him denying his right hand man Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen) the favour of giving their old engineer-team that designed the Apple II a mention during the launch of the Macintosh.
The second scene takes place in 1988, moments before the launch of the NeXT Computer. By now Jobs has been fired by the board of Apple, and he has a heated argument with Chairman John Sculley (Jeff Daniels), a man who was initially hired by Jobs himself. The third act takes place in 1998 right before the launch of the first iMac. Again Jobs has heated discussions with Wozniak, as he still refuses to give overdue credit to the original team of Apple engineers. The technology mogul also makes amends with his daughter, who is twenty years old by this point.
Michael Fassbender delivers a great performance, however he just doesn’t look like Jobs. First pick Christian Bale would’ve been a better choice; not only is there a strong physical resemblance, he is also infamous for having raging tantrums, just like the real Jobs. Apparently Fassbender even tried to convince Bale to change his mind, but to no avail.
The supporting cast is strong, and just like in the 2013 version Steve Wozniak ends up as the only truly likeable character in the film. Seth Rogen is a great pick for “Wozz” with his teddybear appearance, and the experienced comedian is very convincing in this more serious role.
Although this film has a very original take on the biopic-genre, it often feels more like a stage play than like a movie. It is heavy on well-written dialogue, as is to be expected from a play by Aaron Sorkin, the man behind ‘West Wing’. Obviously it also features a fair bit of his trademark walking-through-hallways-scenes. However a fair chunk of advance knowledge on Jobs is required. This film probably works well if you’ve read Isaacson’s biography on Jobs, or if you are an IT-whizkid who is crazy about Apple. Everyone else would do well to thoroughly read up on Jobs on Wikipedia before seeing this movie, or maybe even see that Ashton Kutcher one first.