Steve Jobs
Acting
Directing
Cinematography
Script
Timeless
  • Great acting by Michael Fassbender
  • Innovative concept of staging the movie into a screenplay
  • Use camera to show the evolution of time
  • By now, you probably know the Steve Jobs story inside out – time for new stuff
  • Inspired by true events is not a biopic
4.0Overall Score

Finally one of my most anticipated movies of the year was released in German movie theaters – the Steve Jobs movie was probably one of the most troubled and often abandoned projects in recent Hollywood history. First Christian Bale withdrew from the lead actor role, then David Fincher (which was actually really sad since their last joint project The Social Network was not only one of the best movies of all times, it also gave me the final kicker to start this blog – you’re welcome, World) and finally Sony Pictures withdrew its backing. Aaron Sorkin and his (presumably grandiose) adaption of the great Walther Isaacson biography was left with no future. Finally Michael Fassbender was cast to play Jobs, Oscar-winning director took on the movie and Universal gave its financial backing. Given its troubled past, I was pretty sure the movie would be a complete box office bomb and a sloppy piece of forgettable cinema – I was partly right and wrong. Whereas the movie completely bombed at the Box office and was sequentially pulled from multiple theaters across the US – it is in fact a solid and innovative piece of entertainment.

Act 1: The Sorkin script

There is probably no other scriptwriter in the world who has that level of pop culture behind himself than Aaron Sorkin. He can write dialogues that are so fast, witty, smart, eloquent, insulting and intelligent (all at the same time) that as a viewer you sometimes end up feeling like you are on a rollercoaster action movie when witnessing one his fast dialogues. At times, this can be incredibly awesome – remember the opening scene of The Newsroom or almost every witty dialogue in The Social Network – it can however also outrageously full of itself (remember Season 2 and 3 of The Newsroom – yes, me neither because they we were horrible and completely full itself).

In Steve Jobs – which is more of a play than it is a movie – Sorkin gives us some of his writing highlights which are perfectly delivered (mostly) by Michael Fassbender but also by his “contenders” – Jeff Daniels, Kate Winslet and the old Lisa Brennan. The dialogues (which are the basis of the screenplay) keep the film at an extremely high pace and thus the entertainment value is high at almost every moment of the 122 minutes of this film. Having said that, one could also interpret this as a weakness of this film – as it heavily relies on the interplay between the actors and often ignores the “facts” of the Isaacson biography.

Act 2: This is not a documentary or biopic, it’s a play

Do you know those snobby bookreader folks, standing there after the movie with a no-filter cigarette saying: “Well, this is totally not what really happened! You know, I actually read the book and Woz never said those things – and Joanna Hoffmann isn’t actually that important of a character in real life…” – to those people, I want to give a shout-on (not a shoutout): this is a film which took true events as its basis and dramatized it for its purpose. Now, truth to be told – if a movie is called “Steve Jobs”, one could assume that it is actually based on reality. What it should have probably stated is, the classic starting line: “Inspired by True Events”. Whomever read the book and has heard a bit of Steve Jobs’ backstory (same as with mostly any other person with 50 years of age) – it will be hard to cram a life into 122 minutes of 70mm film. So Aaron Sorkin chose a very innovative approach for which he deserves a lot of applause – he paraphrased a 3-stage play from the biography which was happening around three major product launches of the late Apple Co-Founder. What is beyond me however is why he chose to ignore the two most groundbreaking ones (iPod and iPhone) – which in my mind were the most groundbreaking innovations of Steve Jobs’ company Apple.

I did however really like the concept of the three stages which always involved the same characters at different times of the evolution of Apple and its Co-Founder; and in those moments, Sorkin intelligently paraphrased the nuances of Jobs’ character into the script; a person who (almost) completely lacks any empathy and only cares to make great products because he believes that he knows what the world needs (and the world doesn’t even understand what it wants tomorrow). In combination with the knowledge of the book (or maybe even without), the film however also shows that Jobs’s success later in life when he took the reigns at Apple again was not that he was a genius all along – no it was his previous failures and his will to get back again which ended up contributing to his success. I also really enjoyed how Sorkin showed Jobs’ empathy and soft side only sparkling up when he was able to “talk product” – even with his daughter. So in sum, I did like the three-stage-play concept of Steve Jobs as a piece of art – but as an “educating” film to learn about the late Steve Jobs, this movie does not really provide a full picture. And that is kind of a bummer – I believe that the abandon-your-own-daughter-theme should have at least be complemented with Jobs actually having a happy family with two kids later in life after all. Also I believe that the NeXt storyline could have been forfeited for a later product launch (as mentioned above).

Act 3: The conclusion

After the film was finished, I was sitting in the chair and had to think for a moment if I liked, loved or was meh about the movie. After one day of thinking, I came to the conclusion that I liked the movie but didn’t necessarily love it – whereas it was an innovative concept with lots of great actors, innovative shooting (every act was shot with a different camera) to convey the different eras of the launches more effectively. For all these “different” elements, the movie deserves a lot of credit and I do hope that despite its lack of commercial success, the academy will grant at least the actors the honor of dropping a few nominations (Michael Fassbender best actor is probably a safe bet) – but in comparison to movies of the same “caliber” such as Social Network and the general movie landscape of 2015 awesomeness, this movie is just not great enough to stand out.

 

Info

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  • Running time: 122 min
  • Genre: Biopic
  • Year: 2015

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