If Steve Jobs were famous for only one thing it might just be his elegantly-staged product launches. Three of these serve as a backdrop for an intimate look into Jobs’ personal life. First is the 1984 launch of the Macintosh computer. Following on the heels of Apple’s wildly successful Super Bowl commercial, Jobs prepares for his biggest demo ever as engineers struggle to get the computer working properly. Four years later in 1988, Jobs prepares to launch the NeXT computer only a short time after his ouster from Apple. Finally in 1998 he’s moments away from demoing the first iMac when he has emotional encounters with former CEO John Sculley, marketing exec and friend Joanna Hoffman, and his 19-year-old daughter Lisa.
2015, Color, Rated R, 2 Hrs 3 mins
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, 2.40:1 Aspect Ratio
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen
Directed by Danny Boyle
If one were to watch this film and the 2013 movie Jobs back to back, one would see two vastly different perspectives of Steve Jobs. The latter is what you’d watch if you wanted a look at Apple’s founding and early history. Steve Jobs on the other hand focuses on the man and his closest personal relationships with top lieutenants and family members. All the action takes place backstage at three different product launches and is completely dialog-driven. A few brief flashbacks are thrown in at appropriate times to help tell the story but the vast majority of the plot happens during the many conversations and arguments he has with Joanna Hoffman, Steve Wozniak, John Sculley; his estranged girlfriend Chrisanne Brennan and his daughter Lisa.
When I first heard of Michael Fassbender’s casting in the title role, I scratched my head. He is certainly a massively talented actor but I just couldn’t see him becoming Steve Jobs in the way Ashton Kutcher did. Even when initial trailers were released, I wasn’t convinced. Now that I’ve watched the movie however, I’m sold. He and the supporting cast are simply brilliant in their roles. Even though they are all A-listers, it exceeded my high expectations. There are no dramatic visuals to carry this film whatsoever. It’s all about the actors, the dialog and the interaction between characters. You won’t get any new or exciting insights into the history of Apple but you will see a side of Steve Jobs that is guaranteed to stir emotion. He really wasn’t a nice guy and director Danny Boyle makes that crystal clear.
If you’re at all interested in the history of modern computer technology and product design, Steve Jobs is a must-see.
The image is of very good quality especially in its portrayal of the different eras. The Eighties are warm and grainy which adds just the right touch to the clothes and hairstyles of the period. 1998 is much cooler and sharper with a somewhat digital look that is also an ideal match for the plot material. The only place where things fall short of reference-level is in some scenes where shadow detail is crushed. There is no shortage of contrast but I was a bit disappointed when Jobs donned the famous black sweater and it turned his torso into a formless cutout. Otherwise, detail is sharp and even the darker scenes avoid descending into murkiness.
The audio encode is all about dialog and that is handled expertly. Voices are perfectly clear and never harsh or chesty. There is little for the sub and surrounds to do but it’s not that kind of film. Ambient cues are present mainly in the front sound stage which has a width appropriate to what’s happening on screen.
There is only a single documentary included but it’s nearly 45 minutes long and provides excellent insight into the making of the film. Also on the disc is audio commentary by director Danny Boyle, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and editor Elliot Graham. My package contained a Blu-ray plus DVD and digital HD (downloadable) versions of the movie.