Wednesday, August 21, 2013

JOBS Review: Not That Bad

Let me get something out of the way. Director Joshua Stern’s Jobs was not well-received by the public. Not by a long shot. It was overhyped, underdelivered, and vastly unpopular to critics and fans of Steve Jobs alike.

The film sold seventh in its opening weekend, bringing in a mere $6.7 million in the box office compared to Lee Daniels’ The Butler, which brought in $24.6 million dollars in the first weekend. To add insult to injury, Jobs scored a 25% on Rotten Tomatoes.

But I’m willing to look past what critics and other viewers said, not only for the sake of an honest review, but because the movie wasn’t nearly as bad as it is being made out to be.

Criticisms of the acting or plot would be wrong, to say the least. This was a very good film, and as someone who has read five books on Steve Jobs, seen a few films about him, and watched and re-watched every Jobs Keynote, not to mention having idolized the man my entire life, I felt this film was what I was looking.

Ashton Kutcher was probably the best pick for Steve Jobs. Most viewers may be skeptical in the first few minutes of the film, which begins with Steve, an aged gray-haired man, introducing Apple's now-ubiquitous iPod.

The camera cuts immediately to a sleeping young Jobs at Reed College, where Kutcher plays Jobs just the way he has been described by many of his peers: arrogant, unpredictable, erratic-- but genius. If you didn’t know about Jobs and his vision for Apple, this film does its part to fill you in.

The film progresses from that point to when Jobs and lifelong friend Steve Wozniak started Apple Computer in his parents garage, building 50 units of their first product to be sold to a technology hobby store, the Byte Shop.

From there, everything known about Apple and Jobs in the 80s is revealed, including his relationship with his past girlfriend and mother of his daughter Lisa Brennan Jobs. The movie also shows the removal of Jobs from the very company he started.

One thing I wasn’t so happy about was the complete omission of Jobs’ founding of Pixar Animation Studios, now one of the most successful teams at the Walt Disney company.

Other than that small oversight, the rest of the film is pretty accurate, sans a few reportedly unrealistic conversations between Jobs and his associates.

There is something to be said about the music selection in the film, which actually follows a chronological placement. Perhaps the most notable musical nod to Steve Jobs was the inclusion of “Boots of Spanish Leather” by Bob Dylan off of his 1964 release The Times They Are ‘A’ Changin’. Jobs was a die-hard Dylan fan, and the location of the song in the film was very fitting.

It was very pleasant that the makeup and visual teams worked so hard to make each and every actor resemble their characters as they do. Between makeup, costuming, and performance, Ashton Kutcher becomes a mirror image of young and old Steve Jobs.

It is interesting to note that early scenes were filmed in Jobs’ childhood home, made to look as it did at the time Jobs and Wozniak built their first Apple computers.

One of the largest complaints about Jobs is the heavy focus on the professional life of Steve Jobs, not on his personal life. I found this focus appropriate, however, as viewers of the film are more interested in the man who envisioned and launched the most successful lines of personal media players, mobile phones, and tablets.

Although his ability to innovate is second to none, Stern makes it clear that Jobs was a hothead and was very cruel to many of his employees. This real-life no-fluff approach makes the film more believable and certainly more interesting.

Overall, if you’re a Steve Jobs fan or just curious about the man who envisioned many of the devices most of us use in our daily routine, Jobs is a must-see film to end summer 2013. 

bleichscore: 7/10

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