Steve Jobs

Year: 2015
Studio: Universal
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: Aaron Sorkin
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Jeff Daniels, Seth Rogen, Michael Stuhlbarg, Katherine Waterston, Sarah Snook

You can't help but feel like you're watching Steve Jobs Part 4 when this movie starts, and the content doesn't do a real lot to dispel such a notion.

If Boyle's movie had come before the mostly-disliked Jobs with Ashton Kutcher, the Walter Isaacson book this movie is based on and Alex Gibeny's recent documentary Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, it would be much more exciting. It just feels like there's nothing left to learn about the guy.

Jobs himself seems to have been such an egomaniac he probably would have loved seeing all these movies and books reinforcing his 'brilliant tyrant' mythology. By the same token it's probably a good thing he's not around any more to see how tired we all are of hearing all about him, Steve Jobs having fallen victim to the late 2015 box office curse and bombing along with a number of other high profile dramas from brand name directors.

But the movie has two things going for it – one is Aaron Sorkin's gatling-gun dialogue style and the other is the unique structure. Instead of the straight biopic of the Kutcher version or the non-fiction views from Gibney and Isaacson, Steve Jobs takes place during the pre-show scrambles behind the scenes of three pivotal product launches in Jobs' career – the 1984 Macintosh, his 1988 Next system and the 1998 iMac.

One of the snarkier reviews dismissed Steve Jobs as being a conversation with the same six people every time, and there's some merit to such a criticism. As he prepares to unleash more magic onto the world, Jobs deals with (and butts heads against) the same handful of characters from his personal and professional inner circles.

There's Apple CEO John Sculley (Jeff Daniels), who Jobs appointed but who then turned on him, throwing Jobs out before flaming out himself prior to Jobs' return in the late 90s.

There's Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen), the schlumpy engineer Jobs invented the personal computer with in a garage but who was left behind like so much detritus because he never thought in Jobs' terms of conquering the world.

There's his longtime (and long-suffering) marketing chief Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet, doing a dodgy Polish accent that's never quite the same from one era to the next), spending most of her time reigning him in and trying to make him adhere to the corporate strictures he always railed against.

And there's Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston), the woman he got pregnant and who had the daughter – Lisa – Jobs didn't acknowledge until much later in all their lives.

Sorkin takes the relationships and sketches out the way he thinks they developed/deteriorated over the years, all of them snatched snippets of conversation or argument amid the flurry of major product presentations.

Boyle directs with his usual verve, although it's not altogether necessary thanks to the zing Sorkin's script already contains – much like David Fincher's rigourous style was kind of superfluous to The Social Network or The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo remake.

At times he introduces a grand and jarring flourish – at one point Jobs and Hoffman are arguing in a corridor while footage of a rocket launching from a pad is projected along the wall behind them. There are less than a handful of sequences that contain similar visual oddities, and it only makes them even more out of place when they appear – Boyle should have committed to the method more fully or dropped it altogether.

Fassbender looks nothing like Jobs and Rogen looks nothing like Wozniak, but as we can see from Bryan Cranston's role in Trumbo, no actor needs to do an impersonation of a real life figure for the character to work. In this case however, Jobs has been so visible lately (and for all the flaws of the Ashton Kutcher version, the actor did look actually look like Jobs) Fassbender can't help but remind you just how unlike the man he is. The movie might as well have been about a guy called Steve Occupations who ran Orange Computer.

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