Directors: Danny Boyle
Format: Color, Widescreen
Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (DTS 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1)
Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Number of discs: 2
Rated: R (Restricted)
Release Date: February 16, 2016
I am not a member of the Apple cult, nor did I have any interest in the life of its founder prior to watching Danny Boyle’s untraditional biopic, Steve Jobs. While nothing about this film did much to change my mind about the title character or his computer company, it provides a narrative structure as innovative as the technology at the center of the story. Nearly all of the technical aspects of Steve Jobs are executed well, and the complex personalities of the real life individuals are captured magnificently by the cast, even if Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay occasionally forces them into somewhat theatrical directions.
Giving the idea of three-act-structure new meaning, the entirety of Steve Jobs (both the film and its subject) is captured in a trio of important product launches. The presentations themselves aren’t even seen, leaving only the backstage moments before to serve as plot and character insight. Although there is some tech talk along the way, the film’s screenplay is far more interested in the complex relationships that Jobs (Michael Fassbender) has with the people around him. He seems to care for his daughter (Makenzie Moss, Ripley Sobo, Perla Haney-Jardine) over the years, despite essentially disowning her as a child in order to win an argument. This is a constant with Jobs, stubbornly insisting on getting the last word in, despite destroying every reason for having the conversation along the way. This is the kind of tunnel-vision social skills that seem to hinder his longtime partnership with Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen), and makes him a tough protagonist to root for.
Bustling beside Jobs before each of these product launches is Joanna Hoffman (Kate Wisnlet), staying fairly removed from the drama while remaining in the eye of the storm. This storm often involves his ex-wife (Katherine Waterston), though it is his daughter who suffers the most collateral damage. It is also the biggest reason for disliking the Steve Jobs in Danny Boyle’s film, though his shocking bluntness in a conversation with Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg) is a close second. Rather than rooting for him to succeed, I often reveled in the early failures the film portrays.
There is a certain theatricality to the material that I found somewhat off-putting, even more than usual for Aaron Sorkin, and Danny Boyle often plays into that style. This would be a fascinating double feature with Birdman, both for the similarity in backstage narrative, but because the styles are also very different. Boyle often allows his filmmaking to be sparse at moments, at times resembling a filmed play, but allows those signature stylistic tricks to come out as a bridge between the segments. What grounds the film even more than these moments is the dedication of the cast.
The Blu-ray combo pack comes also comes with a DVD and Digital HD copy of the movie. The high definition is mostly unnecessary, though it does enhance the flashiness of Boyle’s transitional moments. Special features are kept rather basic, including only a making-of featurette and a feature filmmakers commentary track.
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 8/10
Historical Significance: 7.5/10