Director: Danny Boyle
Screenplay by: Aaron Sorkin
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen
There’s a part of me that feels compelled to make sure that people know that I’m not a member of the Cult of Mac. Sure, I might be writing this review on my iMac; while getting e-mail updates on my iPhone, trying to get through this so I can download a new board game on my iPad…. But does that make me some sort of Apple hardware-obsessed nutcase?
Okay maybe it does. But to be clear, my even earlier obsession that ties into this film is with Aaron Sorkin’s writing, which started sometime around the home video release of A Few Good Men, and was solidified in the early ‘00s when I caught a small run of Sports Night episodes in syndication on Comedy Central, while taking a “sick day” from a horrible job in order to marathon my way through the Resident Evil remake on GameCube.
All that said, I was very eager to see this film in the theater when it was initially released, and equally excited, if not more so, to watch in for a second time in the comfort of my own home. While my earlier rant may have revealed my Sorkin fanboy-ism, it’s important to note that it is Sorkin’s writing style that was a key factor in my enthusiasm to sit through the film for a second time. (I don’t feel like I need to rationalize the motive for the third viewing that occurred only a couple of nights later, any more than I feel the need to do anything more than scoff at people who respond to my question of “Have you seen Steve Jobs?” with ‘You mean the Ashton Kutcher movie?”) The movie simply demands multiple viewings to appreciate the brilliance of the humor, as well as the development of the characters that is so well revealed in each line of dialogue.
The film presents its broadly dramatized account of Jobs’ life in three very clearly defined acts. The audience is taken on a backstage journey of the several dozen minutes before three major presentations that Jobs headlines: the unveiling of the Macintosh in 1984, the launch of the Next, a historical footnote in the world of computing in 1988, and the launch of the iMac in 1998. The narrative is held together by Jobs’ interactions with marketing executive Joanna Hoffman (brilliantly portrayed by the charming in almost anything Kate Winslet), Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen, and also well cast) and Jobs’ daughter, Lisa Brennan-Jobs.
And here is where the movie really becomes a smart, funny, well orchestrated piece of art. It’s the combination of Sorkin’s dialogue mixed with a cast that, while familiar to the movie going public, blends seamlessly into their roles to deliver a performance that is worthy of the Oscar nominations that the film has received.
Detractors will say that the story is not historically accurate, which is a completely true statement. If you accept that as a fact going into the film, I don’t understand why that would take away from anyone’s enjoyment of the movie. A better criticism of the movie is that those who have some inside knowledge of this time period of the technological revolution may be better acclimated to the story as it unfolds. Parts of the movie, like the impact of Apple’s 1984 Super Bowl spot, Rogen’s portrayal of Wozniak, and the inclusion of The Simpsons snippet mocking the horribly inaccurate write-to-text feature of Apple’s Newton are small gems that may be lost on some of the movie going masses. These features provided me, and others in my age demographic with similar interests, fun winks at the history of a company that we grew up with.
Here’s another unique feature of the film. Each time period is shot differently, starting with 16mm, moving to 35mm, and ending with digital video for the 1998 arc of the story. Each video sources unique qualities, and in some cases, their flaws, shine through on the Blu-ray presentation.
Presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, I found very few issues with the quality of audio presented in this feature. Dialogue was clean and clear, which is especially important in a film with such rapid fire quips.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
An excellent documentary on the making of the film coupled with two commentary tracks; one by Danny Boyle, and the other featuring Aaron Sorkin and… some other guy, improve the points that I will give to the bonus features. (I’m just being coy. Editor Elliot Graham does a perfectly nice job in his commentary with Sorkin.) Even though I am usually adamant that a trailer should be required on all releases, I’ll take the second commentary in it’s place. Boyle’s commentary discusses some of the deleted scenes that are, unfortunately, not included in this release.
Simply put, this is one of 2015’s must see films. A stellar cast, helmed by a great director with a perfectly-paced script make this film an all inclusive package.