• Steve Jobs



    Released By: Universal
    Released On: January 19, 2016
    Director: Baltasar Kormákur
    Cast: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels
    Year: 2015

    The Film:


    A biopic about Steve Jobs? Can you imagine anything more boring than a biopic about Steve Jobs? Wasn't there already a biopic made about Steve Jobs, with Ashton Kutcher? Didn't a documentary just come out about Steve Jobs? Why the hell would anyone have any interest in a movie about Steve Jobs? I certainly didn't...until I saw Danny Boyle's name attached to direct. The guy who brought me Trainspotting? I guess I'm a little interested....

    Loosely based on Walter Isaacson's book on the man who brought us the iphone, ipod, imac, etc etc etc, this film version of Steve Jobs' starts off in 1984 at the Apple Annual Shareholders Meeting. The infamous Orwellian Superbowl commercial has recently aired, the Apple II computer is a bona fide moneymaker, and Steve Jobs is ready to unveil his new baby; the very expensive home computer known as the Macintosh. Minutes before the doors to the auditorium open, we find Jobs (Michael Fassbender) backstage, becoming more and more agitated that his engineers can't get the voice portion of the Macintosh demo functioning, to the point that he's ready to call of the whole presentation. Adding to his frustration is the presence of a small child he has publicly determined is not the fruit of his loins, and her irate mother, whom Jobs has all but called a whore in a recent interview. And to top it all off, his best friend Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen), his partner at Apple, is asking Jobs to acknowledge the past in thanking the developers of the Apple II, not understanding Jobs' need to ignore the Apple II as a creature of the past and welcome the Mac of the future. Jobs' friend and marketing executive Joanna (Kate Winslet) does everything that she can to keep things moving along, smooth out relationships, and make the launch the success it should be, but it's all for nothing; the Macintosh tanks big time, considered far too expensive in a market already dominated by the Commodore 64 and other cheaper computers.

    Flash forward to four years later, and a lot of things have changed. Steve Jobs has been run out of apple by the Board of Directors and his friend John Sculley (Jeff Daniels). His new product is the "Black Cube", put out under his company NeXT. Once again, we find that things are not perfect; his daughter Lisa is causing him issue, Wozniak is stressing him out in his bid for friendship, Sculley is reminding him of his past failures, and Joanna still can't seem to smooth things over for the man. But there's a reason that Steve Jobs didn't go to the grave as a failure, and his new product going the way of the original Macintosh may give him the in he needs to return to the Apple fold, and emerge triumphant.

    Centering the film around three product launches, the Macintosh in 1984, the Cube in 1988, and the iMac in 1998, was a pretty clever way for Boyle and scriptwriter Aaron Sorkin to showcase the dichotomy of the legend of Steve Jobs; a man who aspired to greatness and most definitely relied on the support and interaction of others, but couldn't find it in himself to fully commit to friendship. By the same token, his troubled relationship with his daughter is on display here as well, from his initial disdain for her as a child to his later still-reluctant support of her showing little emotional growth. The backstory of his initial development and success with Steve Wozniak is told through flashbacks, as is his separation from Apple after the failing of the Macintosh, which summarizes what some might interpret as boring into a convenient package. Boyle and co. do what they can to keep the rest of it interesting, switching things up and keeping the cutting faster-paced and the dialogue intense, and to be honest, it's difficult to imagine anyone aside from Michael Fassbender pulling this off; the man is a powerhouse when he's on screen. Credit should actually go to the entire cast, who really nail it here, aside from Rogen as Wozniak. Truthfully, I have no idea what Steve Wozniak is like in real life, but you pretty much get Rogen in period-correct clothing, which is really what Rogen does in every damn thing he's in.

    But really...who gives a damn? Two hours of Steve Jobs being a dick in the back hallways of convention centers is about ninety minutes too much. A product launch? Who cares? THREE product launches? Get out of here with that. Take the first two, stack them on top of each other, and you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the two, fantastic acting or not. So very little substance....if one of my main gripes about biopics is that they're shiny life stories that don't tell the viewer anything more substantial than what they can find out by quickly browsing wikipedia, my main issue with Steve Jobs is that it tells you nothing at all. He was difficult? Who cares? He had an eccentric personality? Big deal. Watch this film. Track your emotions and see how enriched you feel by the high point of the film, when Jobs successfully rolls out the imac.

    Great acting. Beautiful looking film. And that's about it.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Universal brings Steve Jobs to Blu-ray (with accompanying DVD and HD Digital Download) in an AVC-encoded 2.40:1 transfer. The first thing that should be noted (and really, one of the most interesting facts about the film) is that the first act was shot in 16mm, the second in 35mm, and the third with digital. The first act of the film looks amazing for this reason, and shows what a solid transfer of a 16mm source accomplishes. Beautiful grain (not dirt) captures the atmosphere of the back hallways and gives the film a unique aesthetic. The second and third section of the film also look good, with crisp detail and solid blacks, and a good range of colour with no issues.

    An English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 track is the primary audio source (French and Spanish Lossy DTS 5.1 tracks area also provided) and it's more than adequate, with clever, unobtrusive use of the surrounds. There's not too terribly much going on in this film, and the atmospheric noises and score are integral to the pacing of the film. Dialogue is clear and consistent and well-balanced in the soundstage. The track is flawless.

    Subtitles in English, French, and Spanish are also available, as is an option for Descriptive Video Service.

    The first supplement is Inside Jobs: The Making of Steve Jobs (44:11) a lengthy look at the making of the film that is split into three sections. Each features interviews with Danny Boyle, Aaron Sorkin, and the rest of the cast and crew, as well as lots of on-set footage. Boyle talks about his desire to make a non-conventional biopic; Sorkin talks about comparisons to Walter Isaacson's book.

    A feature-length commentary with Director Danny Boyle is a fairly enjoyable listen, as he very enthusiastically discusses locations, the shooting schedule, and his crop of actors. There are some gaps in the commentary and some description of what's happening on-screen, but it's largely informative and easy to listen to.

    A second commentary with Writer Aaron Sorkin and Editor Elliot Graham discusses the background of the participants and some interesting technical facts behind the film. Again, expect some gaps in the speech.

    The Final Word:

    Though Steve Jobs (the person) isn't somebody that I particularly find interesting, being entertained by a well-made film on a subject that I find boring is not an alien concept. With Danny Boyle at the helm, and an excellent cast, this biopic had potential, but didn't pay off.

    Click the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!