DVD Review - Steve Jobs

This film got a lot of critical acclaim when it was released last year. When it went into wide release, it didn't do all that well at the box office. However, it went on to be nominated for four Golden Globes and won two. It also got three BAFTA nominations, three Critics Choice Award and two SAG Award noms. Eventually, it scored two Oscar nominations. The Oscar nominations were for acting but the true standout is the dialogue. Based on the book by Walter Isaacson, Aaron Sorkin wrote the screenplay, which places the titular character in three moments in his life where he's about to launch a pivotal product in the arc of his career.

Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave and X-Men: First Class) stars as Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Computer and the inventor of the Macintosh computer. The movie starts in 1984 when he introduced the Macintosh or Mac to the world. The middle section is in 1988 when he introduced the NeXT computer. The last section is in 1998 when he introduced the iMac. For each section, he has the same arguments with the same people, which ultimately make Jobs seem awful and makes the movie seem boring.

Kate Winslet (The Reader and Titantic) co-stars as Joanna Hoffman, a woman from Poland who works as the head of marketing, reporting directly to Jobs. She helps to prepare him each time on the presentations he's going to give and acts as a buffer for the press and others. When problems arise, Jobs aggressively insists that people fix them right then and there, as well as do things his way with no compromise. Joanna tries to mitigate and smooth things.

Seth Rogen (Neighbors and Knocked Up) plays Steve Wozniak, the other co-founder of Apple Computer. He simply wants Jobs to mention his team who did a lot of the heavy-lifting in terms of designing and building the actual machines. Wozniak wants credit and a bit of the limelight. The two also argue over having computers with an open system or computers with a closed or end-to-end system. Given recent news with Tim Cook and the FBI, this argument resonates the most.

Jeff Daniels (The Squid and the Whale and The Martian) plays John Sculley, the CEO of Apple Computer. He argues with Jobs about his place in the company and what the company should be. Sculley only or mainly sees the bottom line, whereas Jobs sees it as an artistic endeavor and a world-changing revolution. He also sees himself as an artist in that regard. John just thinks him crazy and frustrating.

Katherine Waterston (Glass Chin and Inherent Vice) plays Chrisann Brennan, the mother of Jobs' daughter who argues with him about child support and getting more money. Jobs doubts Chrisann actually had his daughter. He floats the idea that someone else could be the father and stubbornly sticks to that idea. If there is an arc, it is Jobs' relationship to Chrisann's daughter, Lisa.

In order to get there though, one has to wade through and survive the onslaught of Sorkin's exhausting dialogue. It can be entertaining when it's well-used as in the scene where Jobs argues with Sculley in which the two flash back-and-forth in time from 1984 to 1988 without the flow of words being broken at all. Given Jobs' personality and binary way of thinking, the Sorkin dialogue works coming from Fassbender who handles it well.

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated R for language.
Running Time: 2 hrs. and 3 mins.


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