Late Apple founder Steve Jobs was a controversial figure: A visionary, but perhaps a tyrant too. So what are we to make of him? A new film based on the Walter Isaacson biography published just after his death has been directed by Danny Boyle (28 Days Later), written by Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing) and starring Michael Fassbender (everything) and it is safe to say our hopes are high.
The film is pivoted around three major Apple keynotes: The launch of the Macintosh in 1984, the NeXT in 1988 and the iMac in 1998, and touches upon some of the key aspects of Jobs' life, including his partnership with Steve Wozniak (played by Seth Rogan) and his relationship with Lisa Brennan-Jobs, who he denied was his daughter.
The film hits cinemas in the UK on October 9th so there are still a few weeks to go yet, but should we be booking our tickets soon? Here's a round-up of the reviews so far.
Steve Jobs Review Verdicts
"Propulsively fast, fleet and inquisitive, the film is at the same time somewhat less flashy than most of Boyle’s most famous and successful works, including Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours. Due to its “backstage” setting and approximate real-time frame, Jobs can’t help but provoke memories of the recent Birdman, which breathtakingly covered continuous action with unprecedented fluidity. Boyle’s sophisticated but pragmatic visual approach to evoking a maelstrom of activity stands somewhere between that and more conventional cinema-verite, befitting, perhaps, the period in which it’s set."
Hollywood Reporter - Todd McCarthy
"Indeed, all but Jobs’ most violent detractors may take issue with a picture that can be read on one level as a form of high-end character assassination, and on another as a live-action cartoon. Sorkin’s warts-and-all approach is so thorough that it seems to discover warts on top of warts; you’d have to go back to “There Will Be Blood” to find another Hollywood antihero so willing to isolate himself from others, and to pursue his dreams with such violent single-mindedness."
Variety - Justin Chang
"With a Sorkin script at play, we’re never unsure who the ultimate auteur of the piece is. The staples (breakneck pace, frantic walk and talks, comfortably smug one-liners) are all there in an almost overwhelming quantity. While there’s something to be admired about a script that’s unwilling to make things overly easy for the viewer, Sorkin’s terse prose and immediacy assumes enormous prior investment and an unwavering interest in the cult of Apple. While The Social Network opened up a similar world and made it engaging to viewers who would proudly flaunt their lack of Facebook profile, Steve Jobs is aimed at the die-hard iPhone fetishists."
The Guardian - Benjamin Lee
"Alas, even Fassbender’s miraculous performance can’t save director Boyle from himself: After nearly two hours of keeping his worst impulses at bay (prepare to roll your eyes as the image stutters like a computer screen about to freeze), Boyle’s shoot-for-the-moon instincts seize on the one maudlin note of Sorkin’s script and drive home the final minutes with a wallop of well-meaning schmaltz that reeks of candied bullshit. Boyle’s decent nature is diametrically opposed to that of his subject. What’s left in the rubble may not be perfect, but it’s human, and that’s okay."
TimeOut - David Ehrlich.
"With the exception of [Jeff] Daniels, who does his best in the limited role of a gruff businessman ("the man who fired Steve Jobs," in Sculley's own words), the cast vanishes into their parts. Buried under makeup and a distinctive Polish accent, [Kate] Winslet's chameleonesque transformation is bested only by Fassbender, whose vivid expressions and constant movement turn him into a physical marvel. As Woz, [Seth] Rogen could have easily devolved into the archetype of a bearded sidekick; instead, he's a profoundly empathetic character passionate about cracking Jobs' cold exterior."
Indiewire - Eric Kohn