The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.
Steve Jobs (Universal Pictures)
Directed by Danny Boyle
Steve Jobs is just an okay movie. A fantastic script. Oh my god what a great script. It was almost like watching a stage play. The way it basically captures the same moment three separate times in the life of Steve Jobs. It is so unbelievably cool. But as a movie. As a work of cinema, I was underwhelmed. Director Danny Boyle is hit or miss. He has directed a few of my favorite films and I like him because he doesn’t have a genre. He can do it all. But in Steve Jobs he fails to get out-of-the-way of Aaron Sorkin’s great script. He tries to do more than he needs to. He had an amazing cast and an amazing script and there was no need for the cute little touches and clumsy attempts at film artistry. You can’t really spoil a bio-pic but still…
Steve Jobs is the story of three major tech projects in the man’s life. Two failures and one incredible success. Each act takes place moments before Steve Jobs is to walk out on a stage and present his vision to an audience of rabid fans. He was not an engineer or a coder or a business person. But the people who loved him and credited him with other’s work thought he was a god. What he was is a father, a showman and really every bit of an asshole. Not the most likable guy at all.
In each act, Steve Jobs has an interaction with those three actual people in his life: the coder, the engineer, the business person and those three aspects of himself: the father, the showman and the asshole. This is a sensational script. Aaron Sorkin has long been one of my writing aspirations. A level of cinematic realism and cool dialogue that I would have loved to have been able to match. The dialogue is perfect. The characters are dynamic and real and known within seconds of them walking on-screen. You know these people instantly. And all the relationships are heart-breaking. Truly an amazing screenplay.
The three products featured aren’t Steves greatest works but represent pivotal moments in the innovators life. Two major failures and one incredible success. But the products take a backseat in the film. A backseat to the broken relationships that fuel their creation. They are just a platform for an operating system. A system that uses and abuses people to get their best. All cpu. No heart. Our hero, Steve Jobs, does not emerge from this beautifully written bio-pic as anything other than a master manipulator, out and out thief, horrible father and sometime genius.
Michael Fassbender is amazing (as always) as Steve Jobs. He disappears into every role he plays. Which is difficult because the man is gorgeous. I have a huge crush on Michael Fassbender. I think I’ve loved him in every thing I’ve seen him in. He’s even good in bad movies. He is one talented and beautiful man. In this, he plays Steve Jobs as someone who recognizes emotions in himself and in others but seems to despise them as a waste of his valuable time. Make no mistake, Steve Jobs is not the hero of his own movie… just a subject. Just a cold and mechanically calculating subject.
But Danny Boyle, who has directed some of my favorite films, is too stylized here. His music choices and other creative choices scream “Look at me! I’m directing!” Steve Jobs is a fantastic script that all he really had to do was shoot as is. But he doesn’t do that. He wants you to see him directing. This script would make an incredible stage drama. This movie would make an incredible radio drama. And yes it even would have made an incredible movie. But the director seems too enamored with his own additions to it. And he damn near ruins it all with awful creative choices. It’s maddening. Because the man knows what he’s doing but here it’s like he’s forgotten. And again this is the director of at least five of my favorite hundred films of all-time. I love Danny Boyle. What happens here is Danny Boyle takes a large steaming dump on a really good movie idea.
Steve Jobs, the movie, is a great story and a great script with a great cast that is helmed by a great director. A director who takes these fantastic elements and turns them into a mediocre, maybe even bad, movie. Either because he was trying to compete with the screenwriter’s amazing artistry or… I don’t know… maybe he was trying to sabotage the thing. I really don’t know. It makes no sense. The weird choices he makes make absolutely no sense. And seem to serve only to annoy. What a waste.