Review by Gordon Justesen
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, Michael
Stuhlbarg, Katherine Waterston
Director: Danny Boyle
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Features: See Review
Length: 123 Minutes
Release Date: February 16, 2016
“You’re gonna end me, aren’t you?”
“You’re being ridiculous. I’m gonna sit center court and watch you do it yourself.”
How does one go about making a two hour character piece about an individual who revolutionized technology, but also happened to be insufferable as a human being most of the time? Better yet, how does one manage to make said film a brilliant, one of a kind masterwork? The answer is very simple: hire Aaron Sorkin to write the screenplay.
The remarkable screenwriter and playwright penned The Social Network for director David Fincher, detailing Mark Zuckerberg’s creation of the social media revolution known as Facebook while backstabbing several individuals in the process. That screenplay won him an Oscar, and he recently received a Golden Globe for his screenplay for director Danny Boyle’s riveting portrait of a simultaneously brilliant and complicated man, Steve Jobs. Believe me when I say that the accolades are more than well deserved.
What Boyle and Sorkin here is nothing short of remarkable in terms of stripping the biopic of it’s traditional cliches. In fact, I’m not sure it’s fair to label this film a biopic at all. It achieves something much stronger by basically encapsulating Jobs’ life in three segments, each taking place backstage before the public launch of a new product that is certain to be “the next big thing”.
And in each case we see Jobs, played in a brilliant piece of acting by Michael Fassbender, showcase both the genius that made him the icon he’s remembered as and the extreme difficult nature he displayed with just about everyone he came into contact with. Backstage before each product launch (the Mac in 1984, the NeXT in 1988 and the iMac in 1998), Jobs has numerous confrontations with associates from his past, resulting in many heated exchanges.
Among them are John Sculley (Jeff Daniels), his first true business partner who had Jobs fired from Apple for never listening to the board of directors. Then there’s Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen), who is constantly pleading with Jobs to simply acknowledge the Apple II (which he disregarded in favor of concentrating on the Mac).Lastly, engineer Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg), whom Jobs verbally abused endlessly prior to the Mac launch when it seemed a voice feature wasn’t capable of being produced.
Also given great attention is Jobs’ relationship with his constantly put upon assistant, Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet). She is very much the voice of reason when it appears Jobs is about to go off the deep end. She is also the one who convinces him to spend more time with the daughter whom Jobs is convinced is not his at all.
Although the film is limited in its set pieces, Danny Boyle has yet managed a visually distinctive movie. To give you an idea, each time period was shot in a different format. The Mac launch segment was done in 16mm, the NeXT segment in 35mm, and the iMac segment was shot digitally. To me, that’s an ingenious method because it does perfectly mirror Jobs’ progression to a new technological breakthrough.
For a film to be brilliant, it needs to ace three pivotal aspects; writing, directing and acting. Each of which is displayed in the highest possible form in Steve Jobs, high on my list of the 2015‘s best films. Whether or not you liked the man, it is a true must see event especially if you admire any of the talent involved.
Universal’s Blu-ray handling of this film is nothing but pure visual splendor from the striking opening frame of an empty auditorium. The 1080p makes grand use of displaying the film in each of its three formats. Colors are nothing short or spectacular as is overall image detail, even in the midst of the limited set pieces. High marks all around!
Though strictly a dialogue driven piece, the DTS HD mix does deliver more than you might expect. First off, the spoken words are delivered beautifully, and for a film like this that is most important. And the score by Daniel Pemberton, which is heard in the background for almost the entire film, is given strong attention. And various instances, like the crowd drumming their feet on the floor waiting for Jobs to take the stage, sound utterly fantastic. Most superb!
Some fine features on display for this Universal release, including two dynamic commentaries. The first with Danny Boyle and the second with Aaron Sorkin and editor Elliot Graham. Both are engaging and enormously informative as you’d expect. Next up is a terrific three part making of documentary titled “Inside Jobs”, which features intimate interviews with Danny Boyle, Aaron Sorkin, Michael Fassbender and other cast and crew members, as well as a look at the real life characters, the technical details in the filmmaking and the importance of the music score.
There is simply not enough to be said about the brilliance of this film. Steve Jobs is an excellent achievement in acting, writing, directing and especially in narrative execution. You couldn’t ask for a better collaboration than that of Danny Boyle, Aaron Sorkin and Michael Fassbender, whose combined talents have resulted in one of the truly best films of 2015!