A semi-serious biopic about the biggest tech hack since Edison.
“Steve Jobs” is the kind of movie that feels out of time. While a ton of people will see the easy and instant comparisons to “The Social Network”, something far more sinister lurks underneath this film. The Zuckerberg of “The Social Network” treaded between douchebag and anti-hero. However, Sorkin knew quite carefully where to leave the young tech baron. A fact that after seeing “Steve Jobs” seems motivated by the older Sorkin’s distaste for the younger generation. But, I might be reading into that.
Aaron Sorkin has never been a personal favorite, but I respected the man’s natural ability. He wants to be Paddy Chayefsky in the same way that Corey Feldman wanted to be Michael Jackson for that stint. I have to say that it comes undone in “Steve Jobs”. Sure, the acting is amazing. You will believe that Michael Fassbender is Steve Jobs. That commitment to performance only makes the underpinnings of the Sorkin script that much worse.
Steve Jobs was a bad person. He helped innovate tech, but his personality and actions while bouncing between Atari, Apple, Pixar and NeXT were unbecoming of a professional adult. Jobs was quick to let others know that he was a genius, while manipulating practices and getting smarter co-workers to do the bulk of the work. I’d try to avoid discussing Lisa Brennan, but she’s such a huge part of the movie. Yet, the film goes out of its way to try and “kid glove” his abandonment of the child.
This quite hard to talk about a film that relies on three heavily foot-noted eras in Apple and Steve Jobs. The 1984 presentation after the Super Bowl ad’s bow, Steve Jobs finding his footing at NeXT and the 1998 presentation of the iMac offer a weird three act setup. You’re supposed to see a different Jobs in each era, but all you get is the same turtleneck and thousand yard stare. Fassbender nails a man that is bent on forcing a vision onto the public regardless of the cost. However, this creates a weird creation that doesn’t play true to reality or fiction.
Fassbender’s Steve Jobs is a modern monster that thrives on demanding positive feedback and complete adherence to his seemingly failing policies. Seth Rogen kills it as Steve Wozniak, but he plays Woz like a Victor Frankenstein that is scared of a monster he believes that he helped create. That isn’t that true to life, plus it rings hollow as the film closes. Jobs has his place in PC history as the great frontman for computer culture at a time when it was needed. Nolan Bushnell got computing to the public as entertainment, but Steve Jobs was the one who sold a culture.
That culture aesthetic that still stinks its way through popular culture was insanely important to adoption. But, it didn’t always make for best business practices. Jeff Daniels plays Apple CEO John Sculley with an even hand that will surely land him an Oscar nomination and hopefully a win. Daniels is the best thing about the movie, as he dares to slow the train down and say that the boy genius is wrong. The Super Bowl ad failed, the computers were overpriced and Apple stock was in flux. Steve Jobs never did anything before 1998 that warranted him staying in his position.
What Boyle, Sorkin and company does is create a cinematic apology for a faltering titan. Divorced from the later successes of the 00s, the Ive designs and the Tim Cook support…we see Jobs fail. But, the film never explains that he deserved to fail and he needed to be a better person. His familial issues, the stuff with his daughter and his general lack of business sense is swept under the rug. Why? Well, because he’s the conductor and he’s far more important than those playing the instruments.
It’s been a long time coming, but I always knew we were going to get a biopic for a self-absorbed hack and we got it. I just wanted a hint of self-awareness like you got in a movie like “Nixon”. But, this film is every bit as vapid as those that line up outside for the latest iPhone launch. In that way, the film succeeds. “Steve Jobs” knows its audience and it plans to be fundamentally obsolete.
RELEASE DATE: 10/23/2015 (wide)