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Jobs
Genre Biography
 
Review:

Steve Jobs was an entrepreneur, a pioneer and a creative genius. This is the iconic Jobs we know from the media, yet we only know half the story. Jobs the biopic drama about the Apple founder is an eye-opening journey, taking the tempestuous Jobs from his days as a hippie in college to his crowning achievements as the creative force associated with the Apple empire.

Behind the revered status was a complex man so passionate about his life's work that he was willing to sacrifice relationships and reputation in the pursuit of excellence. The film unpacks his life's journey from the days of tinkering at Atari to introducing the music revolution that was the iPod.

You could say, Jobs has been treated like a rockumentary of The Beatles in the way the founding members started off in a garage, got a few gigs, put an album together, attended festivals, sold out to the record company with the front man eventually going solo. There are some interesting parallels between Jobs and Lennon and the filmmakers have embraced the '70s and music of the era, playing and referencing Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan and The Beatles.

Ashton Kutcher was a surprising casting call for the title role of Steve Jobs, based on his largely comedic filmography and back page celebrity status. The film-makers had to represent the man through the ages and adequately convey the man with all his trademark mannerisms. Kutcher is not a revelation, but his portrayal shows understanding and commitment, enough to get him a pat on the back.

As a dramatic biopic, Jobs runs through his career recreating triumphs and failures with a sympathetic yet unflattering honesty. For those that haven't read his biography, it's a fascinating story about a man whose stubborn and relentless drive for aesthetics, simplicity and ease-of-use in technology made him admirable, yet increasingly unpopular with colleagues, friends and family members.

As a character portrait, we're entertained by behind-the-scenes politics and principles, but unable to tap into the character's inner thoughts and motivations. He's plagued by poor people skills, yet we're not privy to the inner workings of the creative genius, watching him at an arm's length as he repeatedly impresses and alienates those around him.

Jobs is a b-grade version of The Social Network, except the main players have less power and the lead isn't as likable. The biopic was made on a modest budget, which limited name actors. As such, it seems like a collection of value second and third choice actors were cast.

Josh Gad gives Steve Wozniak presence as a sidekick and sounding board for Kutcher. Dermot Mulroney plays his cards close as Mike Markkula, a poker-faced executive. Matthew Modine's take on John Sculley is promising owing to limited screen time, while J.K. Simmons is the pick of the supporting actors as the old school scruff-of-the-neck, Arthur Rock.

The storytelling and editing in Jobs are discordant. The opening sequence feels like it was there to serve as a conclusion, possibly giving Kutcher a chance to showcase the Jobs we know to acclimatize us to the casting decision. Then the film ends quite abruptly after two hours. While ordered chronologically, some of the editing seems off-key.

While deeply flawed, the biopic remains fascinating. We know the iconic man eventually finds his way, yet the interest is in the ground between personal train smash and fluke of genius. Jobs is not a great advert for Apple and shows another technological pioneer, in the vein of Gates and Zuckerberg, whose journey was not without admirers and enemies.

The bottom line: Substandard

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