By: Sebastian Tadesse-Heath, Contributing Writer
When I first saw the trailer for the film “Steve Jobs,” I didn’t particularly think Michael Fassbender looked or sounded like the late technical mogul.
It was certainly an upgrade from Ashton Kutcher, who last played him in the maligned “Jobs” movie that no one saw. But thanks to a contained and great performance by Fassbender, he is able to capture the essence of Steve Jobs without entirely mimicking him.
Fassbender definitely looks just like Jobs in certain scenes, especially toward the end, but it’s mostly through his mannerisms and attitude that he makes it work. Fassbender’s voice in this picture is quite odd, because he doesn’t really sound like Jobs, but somehow it fits. Fassbender carries himself with an air of supremacy, comparing himself to God, Julius Caesar and Bob Dylan throughout the film. He is arrogant, cold and cynical. He is constantly moving and thinking about the next step while never accounting for individuals, as he is only concerned with the product.
Ironically, the movie is more concerned with Jobs than his inventions. It’s a testament to Fassbender that we never once believe he isn’t Steve Jobs through his hypnotic and towering demeanor.
The movie is told in three acts. It opens right before the unveiling of the Macintosh in 1984, then moves to right before the release of the Next in 1988 and ends at the presentation of the iMac in 1998.
The film is certainly not a bio-pic. It instead focuses on the genius of Jobs, and the cost of his outlook on success.
Thanks to a smart, well-paced script by Aaron Sorkin, also known for “The Social Network” and “The West Wing,” the three major sequences in this movie find tension and urgency in the drama before the major events happen.
In that way, each scene has a countdown until the next unveiling when Jobs must present it on stage again.
There are strong performances all around. A barely recognizable Kate Winslet plays Joanna Hoffman, Jobs’ assistant. Seth Rogen is Steven Wozniak, an old friend of Steve’s who co-founded Apple with him, and Jeff Daniels does well as the CEO of Apple.
The direction by Danny Boyle is visually interesting, even if it is a bit uneven at times. He shot the three acts of the movie with different kinds of film to represent the different time periods: 16mm for 1984 to give it a grainy and older feel, 35mm for 1988, and high definition digital for 1998.
Boyle has a slick, unusual style in all his films, but here takes a backseat to Sorkin’s writing. This movie is almost purely dialogue, and to Boyle’s credit, it’s interesting for most of the two hour runtime even though almost every scene is in a hallway or dressing room.
All this could have made for a very slow and boring experience in lesser hands. But fortunately, the writing is brilliant and Boyle gives Fassbender all the room he needs to own every scene. The filmmakers are not going for accuracy in the story of Steve Jobs life, and it makes for better storytelling. The film will certainly be the frontrunner in the Oscars for “Best Screenplay” by Sorkin and “Best Actor” for Michael Fassbender. I give this film an 8 out of 10.