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You are here: MacNN Forums > News > Mac News > Critics, Wozniak hail 'Steve Jobs' film as 'brilliant,' 'must-see'

Critics, Wozniak hail 'Steve Jobs' film as 'brilliant,' 'must-see'
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Sep 7, 2015, 12:33 PM
 
(Warning: minor film spoilers are contained in this article) Early reviews of Steve Jobs, the two-hour Danny Boyle-Aaron Sorkin collaboration for Universal Pictures that stars offbeat casting choice Michael Fassbender in the title role, are in and are uniformly positive about the film. The movie presents Apple co-founder and former CEO Jobs as "both an iconic visionary and a monster with a silicon chip where his heart should be," but uses history, Jobs' daughter Lisa, and an ensemble cast to create an "astonishingly brilliant" film that even won raves from another co-founder of Apple, Steve Wozniak.

While the unconventional three-act, three-product framing vehicle does not allow for "the most comprehensive account possible" and uses some distinct dramatic liberties to tell its tale, according to Variety film critic Justin Chang, it is "a film of brash, swaggering artifice and monumental ego, a terrific actors' showcase and an incorrigibly entertaining ride" featuring an "enthralling" performance by Fassbender. Chang called the film a "must-see," comparing it to Sorkin's Oscar-winning film The Social Network in its ability to successfully tell its story.

UK newspaper The Guardian also singled out Fassbender's "transformative" performance, while perhaps the most ringing endorsement of the film came from one of Hollywood's toughest critics when it comes to movies about Apple: the man who was there, Steve Wozniak. He told Deadline that he had previously seen a rough cut of the film, "and I felt like I was actually watching Steve Jobs and the others, not actors playing them, I give full credit to Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin for getting it so right." Deadline's critic also singled out Seth Rogen's portrayal of Wozniak in the film as "dead on."



Another UK publication, Time Out, rated the film as four stars out of five, calling it "astonishingly brilliant whenever it's not breaking your heart," and joining with other critics in identifying the sub-plot of Jobs' difficult relationship with his daughter Lisa as the emotional centerpiece of the movie. The film does not shirk from showing the cruelty of Jobs in originally denying paternity of the child and his later estrangement from Lisa and her mother, but both father and daughter mature across the years into a mutual understanding that allowed a relationship to be built.

"By the time the film gets to 1998," the Time Out review notes, "Fassbender has not only become the spitting image of the person he's playing, he's also made him distinct from his legacy, sprinting along the pencil-thin line between the genius the world got to know and the sociopath we would hear about in whispers."

IndieWire's review of the film notes that the movie's chief framing device of three product launches -- the Macintosh in 1984, the NeXT computer in 1988, and the iMac a decade later -- actually show little of the events themselves but focus on Jobs the showman, and the Jobs behind the scenes that used methods both brilliant and terrible to create the presentations and the atmosphere that propelled them: "Never once showing Jobs actually delivering his speeches, "Steve Jobs" instead demystifies those famed performances to find Jobs in his natural state - that is, keen on manipulating everyone around him, and furious when the pieces don't fit. The only reality he knows involves his domination."

The publication also called Sorkin's script a "masterwork of narrative economy," while Crave notes that the story may be drawn from the biography from Walter Isaacson, but is a wholly different take on the stories seen in print: "Instead of applying this banter to a linear series of events (or a direct adaptation of the Walter Isaacson biography), Sorkin structured the film in three major sequences that encapsulate the entirety of the man. It's extraordinary, and Danny Boyle directs the hell out of it too."

Variety also noted that the film's three presentation sequences were shot using (broadly) technology of the day to help further represent the passage of time -- 16mm used for the 1984 sequence, 35mm film for the 1988 launch, and digital cameras in the 1998 scenes. The Apple-like attention to detail, notes Variety, "may well be lost on the vast majority of viewers, but it's just the sort of nicely understated aesthetic flourish that Steve Jobs himself would have surely appreciated."

The movie was screened at the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado, where the reviewers finally saw it. The film also stars Jeff Daniels as John Sculley, Kate Winslet as former Mac marketing director Joanna Hoffman, and a trio of young actresses playing Lisa Brennan-Jobs at various points in her life. It will be shown at the New York Film Festival on October 3 in the "centerpiece" slot, and will open to wider public release on October 9.
     
JeffHarris
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Sep 7, 2015, 01:59 PM
 
Spoilers? Really?
I think we all know how it all turned out, unfortunately.
     
Charles Martin
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Sep 7, 2015, 02:30 PM
 
Spoilers in how the film handles specific events and what is emphasized or resolved. Long-time Apple fans know these stories well, but the general public does not.
Charles Martin
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mac_in_tosh
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Sep 7, 2015, 08:59 PM
 
Does the film cover this icon's illegal collusion with other tech companies to restrict competition for employees?
     
DiabloConQueso
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Sep 8, 2015, 09:43 AM
 
Is the illegal collusion one of the major points of Jobs'/Apple's story that needs to be included in an entertainment film?

My vote would be to save that for a documentary and instead give us an entertaining film built upon material we're familiar with.
     
mac_in_tosh
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Sep 8, 2015, 10:09 AM
 
"My vote would be to save that for a documentary and instead give us an entertaining film built upon material we're familiar with."...

In other words, let us continue to drink the Kool-aid.
     
Spheric Harlot
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Sep 8, 2015, 10:30 AM
 
In other words, focus on the aspects that mattered to who Jobs was and how he changed the world around him.

It certainly doesn't sound like a one-sided portrayal from the reviews, by a long shot. It seems more like a portrayal where illegal non-compete agreements would be absolutely in-character, but perhaps not interesting enough to be worth including in the storyline.
     
Charles Martin
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Sep 8, 2015, 11:45 AM
 
For the record, the film only covers Jobs' life up to the introduction of the iMac in 1998, so the illegal tech-poaching collusion hadn't happened yet.

However, we do cover that very topic on the new episode of The MacNN Podcast, out today, so I hope you'll tune in, mac_in_tosh!
Charles Martin
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TheGreatButcher
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Sep 8, 2015, 11:54 AM
 
"For the record, the film only covers Jobs' life up to the introduction of the iMac in 1998,"

So no progress since Pirates of Silicon Valley?
     
MitchIves
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Sep 8, 2015, 05:16 PM
 
I'll be more interested in hearing how Steve's wife sees the film, as well as Cook and Ive... and the rest of the people that were actually around during that timeframe...
     
mac_in_tosh
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Sep 8, 2015, 08:17 PM
 
"In other words, focus on the aspects that mattered to who Jobs was..."...

Exactly - aren't the nasty, controlling aspects of his personality who Jobs was?
     
Charles Martin
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Sep 8, 2015, 08:40 PM
 
MitchIves: I think Woz was around at the time, and his comments are found in the article

However, Steve's wife and kids (except for Lisa) either didn't yet exist or weren't in his life during the period covered in the movie. That doesn't negate your point that it would be interesting to hear what Laurene and their children (particularly Lisa Brennan-Jobs) have to say about it, however.

mac_in_tosh: no more than the nasty, trolling aspects of your personality define who you are ... I'm sure there's more than that, wouldn't you agree?
Charles Martin
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Spheric Harlot
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Sep 9, 2015, 04:49 AM
 
Mac_in_tosh: yes, that's what the second part of my post was about. The illegal non-compete is a truly minor detail in the scope of Jobs' influence. It's nice that you appear to have made it a personal endeavor to inform the world, but Jobs actually did a lot worse.

Apart from that, it happened long after 1998, so it's outside the scope of the movie.
     
mac_in_tosh
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Sep 9, 2015, 09:07 AM
 
"mac_in_tosh: no more than the nasty, trolling aspects of your personality define who you are"...

Funny how you consider it trolling to say something negative about him in the comment section of a movie about him. I guess if my comment praised him you wouldn't consider it trolling.
     
   
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