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Friday, October 23, 2015

Movie Review: 'Steve Jobs'

The tedious Steve Jobs is nothing more than Oscar bait.

Review by Matt Cummings

It's always impressive to see current events play themselves out in a dark theater. Perspective is the problem: how do you tell the story of someone/something without giving them time to learn their true effect? Unfortunately, Steve Jobs has many other problems to deal with, churning out asshole at 128k and leaving us with little but the old frown face that plagued older Macintosh boxes.

Based on Author Walter Isaacson's 2011 book, Jobs details three important product launches between 1984-1998, where we learn why Apple co-founder Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) was labeled as a difficult boss. 'Impossible' might be a better use, as his grading style keeps his assistant (Kate Winslet) harried while turning co-founder Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogan) into the center of his scorn and general torment. Faced with continual product failures and his tense relationship with Apple, Jobs must also wage an internal battle as he refuses to accept the prospect of an illegitimate child in his already complicated life.

Writer Aaron Sorkin had me with his monumental The West Wing. But in Jobs, he becomes too preachy and self-centered to tell an effective story. He and Director Danny Boyle spend the 95% of the film making us hate Jobs, before trying desperately to remake him into someone we can like. Perhaps that's the point, but his dialogue sounds like Trek-nobabble and Interstellar had an illegitimate child of their own; it's clunky and downright ugly, missing every bit of Sorkin's trademark soaring style. But what I can like is Fassbender's performance: he is among my favorite actors right now, mostly because he can inhabit any role without being a derivative of either his personality or someone else he's portrayed. The same goes for Winslett, who might find herself accepting hardware in February.

Yet with this sort of endorsement for the actors, one might incorrectly think Steve Jobs worthy. In reality, they become the only thing keeping it above water. It's clear that Boyle can make transformative film as evidenced by Trance. But here he spends too long on minor details, software patches, and time periods that don't feel relevant given any scenario, while Jobs tries to deny his daughter is actually his. Why would we want to learn about two failed product launches and a daughter he refuses to love, simply because she's seen as an inconvenience? Granted, this sort of backseat access reveals the messiness behind Jobs, but it's neither healthy nor inspiring. In fact, I'm still having a hard time deciding what I was watching. Steve Jobs is too specific to be biopic, too ugly for inspirational cinema, and way too smart for its own good.

Faster than a hard drive crashing, Steve Jobs very soon becomes a rehash of itself, trying to be meaningful but ultimately resulting in very little. Much like the machines he refused to make accessible with simple tools, this one is hard to crack and ultimately wouldn't be worth much if you did. Don't listen to the popular critics about this one: Steve Jobs is plodding, hollow, and ultimately less enlightening than it thinks it is. As like most of Apple's tech, it's not what audiences needed in order to enjoy the experience it tries to market.

Steve Jobs is rated R for language and has a runtime of 122 minutes.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

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