London Film Festival: Steve Jobs, review

Every now and then, we see two movies that are being made at roughly the same time which are about virtually the same subject matter. Looking at movies such as Armageddon with Deep Impact, White House Down with Olympus has fallen, one pair was about a mankind killing asteroid and the other is where the White House is under siege. It’s happening again right now with the two in-production Jungle Book adaptations . There seems to be a need to tell the same story twice.

Jobs (2013) and Steve Jobs (2015) are both about the founding member of Apple, both tell the story in their own unique ways. Why two movies were being made is anyone’s guess. The former starred Ashton Kutcher and the latter stars Michael Fassbender as the man himself, it’s directed by Danny Boyle and written by Aaron Sorkin. On paper, putting these three together should equal in a cinematic masterpiece, and it pretty much has.

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Steve Jobs tells the story from the release of the first Macintosh all the way up to the launch of the iMac, the computer which brought Apple back from the brink of bankruptcy. While some may think this is yet another feature length advert for Apple, it doesn’t come off as that at all. What this film does is show you all sides of Steve Jobs ranging from colleague, father, inventor, showman, all portrayed effortlessly by Fassbender. The film is cut into three acts, all taking place at a product launch, be that with Apple or the company he founded after being forced out, NeXT. From 1984 to 1998, we see his relationships change, grow, evolve and dissolve. These launches were the first Macintosh, then his next venture NeXt (perfect black cube) and then his return to Apple where he sends the iMac out into the world.

Danny Boyle is someone you can ordinarily rely on to put some grit into his film, something that’s normally hard to watch however it’s not like that at all. It doesn’t feel like a Boyle film at all but that’s not a bad thing. He’s never had a script like this before, one which is so dialogue heavy that through speech is where you see the tension, drama and action. With Boyle’s films, these are usually done with stunning visual aids but what we get here are people walking and talking, quite a bit, yet it works. Boyle has directed one of his finest films yet due to its simplicity of mostly taking place backstage with a handful of people. The complexity of his movie is in just how simple these scenes are.

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A sharp Sorkin script ensures that this is full of witty memorable lines, long conversations and brilliant put-downs. In a scene with Seth Rogen’s Steve Wozniak, Jobs is asked what it is he does. “Musicians play their instruments. I play the orchestra.” Just one example of how highly regarded Steve Jobs is to Steve Jobs. Sorkin has created dialogue that is inviting to listen to and fascinating to see performed. This isn’t the first time he has tackled a tech genius. The Social Network was yet another example of his work that was well received thanks to his snappy lines. The thought of a film about Facebook and then another about a man who started a computer company don’t sound like they would be the most riveting views but Sorkin can create a script that actors will love to work with and speeches audiences will enjoy.

This is a fast-talking, dialogue driven film that only slightly dumbs down the technical computer lingo in order to have several sharp scenes in which they can discuss these issues in length without the audience furrowing their brows, wondering what’s going on. The movie cleverly bounces from the product launches to key moments in his life using flashbacks such as working in his garage, his sacking from Apple and asking John Sculley (Jeff Daniels) to be CEO of Apple. Steve Jobs was a man who pushed forward in tech world with his ideas and foresight but this is not a celebration of a man, this is showing a man at his best and his worst, seeing what he’s like with key people in his life. If you thought you knew Steve Jobs, think again.

Keep. It. Reel.

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