The biggest problem with Jobs is that it’s not creative enough. It isn’t marred by poor acting or uninteresting storytelling; it’s flawed because it tells the story of an iconic man in a very uninspiring way. It’s like any other biopic that doesn’t venture deeper into the characters. It presents the key events and the key conflicts, and showcases a bunch of computers and tools as if they are all supposed to mean something. But do they? Do the characters even mean anything?
My opinion is that they don’t. Who is Steve Jobs? What makes him so special? Is he a genius? A madman? A misunderstood nerd? The filmmakers don’t know. Or maybe they do; they just don’t know how to tell us. He shouts, flares his nostrils, and pushes the boundaries time and time again, and then when it’s all supposed to pay off, the movie ends. What journey have we been taken on?
Jobs isn’t disappointing in the way that Hitchcock is disappointing; it’s disappointing because we come out of it feeling none the wiser about the man. We are told of the development of Apple Inc from a garage experiment to a big time company, complete with backstabbings and betrayals, and we are invited to some key conventions and board meetings. So what? The movie’s called Jobs, not The History Of Apple. The character should come before the event. But it doesn’t.
That being said, is Jobs a bad movie? No. It’s entertaining, like any biopic is entertaining. It sacrifices character for event, but because I’m an Apple fan, the event is satisfactory. There is still some joy to be had at hearing — and seeing — familiar classic computers, like the Apple II and the Apple Lisa, and in tracking the birth of the Macintosh. The movie is good at doing this, at moving forward from creation to creation without stopping to gives us whys and hows. The next computer exists because the movie needs it to, and if you’re a computer freak or an Apple user, the computers will make you scream fanboy murder. It is good on a superficial level.
And what of the performances? They are decent. Not exceptional. Kutcher does a fine job portraying the hero who, according the movie, turns out to be more of a villain. He’s a hard man to sympathise with; he betrays old friends, refuses to acknowledge the birth of what could very possibly be his illegitimate daughter (even though one and a half million men could be the possible father, by his reasoning), he guilt trips investors into rooting for him, then kicks them out when he deems they’re no longer needed, and he constantly uses the words “I” and “mine”. He is, by all accounts, a prick. We are given nothing to like about him, except for the fact that he makes Ashton Kutcher look a bit like Steve Jobs.
The movie is directed by Joshua Michael Stern and written by Matt Whiteley. At times there are signs that the duo is aiming for results that David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin achieved with The Social Network. Their main character is a douchebag, much like Mark Zuckerberg was; the trials and tribulations he experiences are usually experienced alone, in solitude, in emptiness. There are certainly parallels, but The Social Network is a better movie because it understands the formula of a successful biopic, and then completely reinvents itself. It doesn’t follow; it leads. It’s a shame that Jobs doesn’t take the same approach, because Jobs himself was a man who believed in leading. He says “We should not be aiming to do things better; we should be aiming to do things different”. Looking at it now, Jobs should have been done differently. It should have had the courage to be a radical risk taker, instead of making an icon look like an average joe. There is potential in the content, there is promise in the cast. There just needs to be some different thinking.
Best Moment | Watching a young Jony Ive promote himself, in true Jony Ive form, to Jobs, explaining why he has chosen to remain loyal to the company. I felt like I was watching an Apple promotional video from the past, but in the present.
Worst Moment | Too sleepy to think of one. But it’s there.