Writer: Casey LeeWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"The Social Network"
While Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook is probably one of the earliest of this generation to be the center of tech-savvy rags to riches biopics, it would be a remiss to not explore the late Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs, who is among the slew of the 'original' tech giants when tech was becoming cool in the late 20th century.
While David Fincher's semi-biographical take on the youngest billionaire ends with a poignant note that the fast rise to fame and fortune can come with a dearly cost, director Joshua Michael Stern's "Jobs" would be remembered more as an attempt to strike while the iron of the late Apple founder's death is still hot, rather than a hard study on one of the most fascinating technological pioneers of our time.
"Jobs" opens in 2001 as we follow behind an aged Steve Jobs, as he walks through the hallow corridors of the Apple Town Hall in his trademark black tucked turtle neck and blue jeans. He emerges before a seated conference of his staff and begins making a speech about creating inventions for the heart and its limitless possibilities. He pulls out something from his pocket and as he introduces the iPod that will revolutionize everything for the first time, we see his reflection on the back casing of the gadget; into his eyes and into his past.
Then we get a rude awakening of Jobs on a couch in Reeds College in 1974, and from there we follow him through 30 years of his life from the founding of Apple, his abrupt ousting from it until his marked return.
If the hype created around Ashton Kutcher's likeness to the late Steve Jobs has not convinced you, there is very little need to doubt it as "Jobs" begins. The aforementioned opening scene of Kutcher as a balding and grey-bearded Jobs introducing the iPod is just as impactful as the unveiling of Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln, but that is just one of the very few moments throughout this movie when you feel connected with the Apple pioneer. Kutcher's impressions of Jobs is only skin deep as the movie fails to capitalise on using his likeness to go under the skin of the visionary. His impassioned speeches make us cheer and applaud not because it comes with an inner energy that is contagious, but because the crowd's cheers tell us that it is mesmerising. We are not enthralled or immersed by his words, but only because we want to jump on the bandwagon.
The main fault that led to this is most likely debuting screenwriter Matt Whiteley, who started writing the screenplay while Jobs was still alive. "Jobs" is more eager to stay focused on Jobs' career in Apple while glossing through the less known moments of his personal life that has more potential to be an insight. Sure, we get to learn that, like all modern innovators of our time, he has a fair share of flaws that is probably meant to humanise him than putting a bad light on his character. But there's a lot of liberties being taken into justifying Jobs' anti-social behaviour as a visionary who is a victim of the corporate structure than letting us accept his flaws in exchange for greatness. Even the boardroom drama that ensues has few edges, partly because so few details were provided to Whiteley by those depicted in the events of "Jobs", and director Stern has to make do with what is more of a trajectory, rather than a reenactment.
This is not helped by the rest of the cast, as they are mainly here for their resemblance to their real-life counterparts, which is heavily reminded with a closing montage so that you can admire the makeup team's handiwork. Except for Josh Gad's as co-founder Steve Wozniak who at least has one notable scene with Kutcher's Jobs to remind you that there is some human drama in here, it is almost hard for anyone who has read a little into Job's life to believe that those around him would be given slightly more screentime than cameos (of people who aren't even the real deal, to say the least), given their actual contributions in building (or destroying) Job's life work.
It is ironic that the often repeated dogma in "Jobs"; that the smallest details make all the difference is not adopted by the filmmakers. Every moment when Kutcher's Jobs advocates being innovative and different from the rest of the pack, it is fittingly framed with techniques of a textbook biopic. While that is to say there are few technical blunders on the filmmakers' part to get the scenes right, it is played out in the most uninspiring manner that you would expect it to belong in a TV movie, while you are hoping that it will take the risk to gamble it all to be poignant, deep and reflective.
As the terribly weak epilogue sinks this mostly uneventful biopic, audiences would most likely feel that they have just finished reading the Wikipedia page of Steve Jobs, rather than share a personal connection to the spirit of Jobs so that we believe that we can change what is possible. "Jobs" certainly doesn't do justice to the man who has lived larger than life, which makes this subject needing a more deserved revisit by a more inspired cast and crew. Cinema Online, 06 September 2013