Well we all knew that it was inevitable that a movie about the late Steve Jobs was going to be made given that Aaron Sorkin’s Oscar-winning movie THE SOCIAL NETWORK showed that movies about tech giants who revolutionised our way of life could be box office and critical successes. More so the impetus for a movie about Jobs was a given due to the fandom nature and hero worship of Jobs and Apple by the people who generally buy Apple products, especially in Hollywood. Would you expect anything less as a testament to the man who changed the world of so many? There is no question that Steve Jobs was a visionary genius who both touched and changed the lives of billions, not millions, but billions of people the world over so I believe it is only fitting that a movie be made about one of the most influential men in history.
The movie in a nutshell tells the story of Steve Jobs’ rise from everyday drug experimenting hippy/ college drop-out to being a creative visionary billionaire. When I say nutshell I do mean nutshell as there is quite a bit that has been left out of this story which I can understand for the sake of brevity, but I think it also provides a somewhat distorted or Hollywood romanticised portrayal of the man. This was only to be expected, so if you are looking for a true insight into the man and the company that he and his fellow enthusiasts created, I highly suggest you look somewhere else.
Steve Jobs is played by Ashton Kutcher who does bear a striking resemblance to Jobs. Ashton did a fantastic job of emulating Jobs in terms of his speech and mannerisms; at least from a public persona perspective. Most of us will never know how Jobs was behind closed doors, but from recent testimonies provided by those who worked with him I would say that Ashton did capture the asshole aspect of Job’s personality to perfection. What struck me most about the film was it reminded me of what it takes to make it in the business world, to make it to the top. You have to be a visionary and be able to see opportunity where there is none, be it in recognising talented people, technology or whatever. After all that you also need that asshole factor. That one crucial piece of the puzzle which lets you for the sake of business and to get ahead sacrifices anything or anyone who might get in your way. This much was made obvious by Ashton’s portrayal; however given the limited number of documentaries I have seen about Jobs, I dare say that it is still a romanticised portrayal. I think that was one of the complaints that Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak made about the film in that he felt that it was a romanticised portrayal of jobs and skewed to what he believed Kutcher’s vision of the man is. He also pointed out there were a few facts left out such as Wozniak donating some of his share of Apple to the other co-founders that Jobs so eloquently shafted when the company went public.
What was made abundantly clear in the film is that Jobs was a visionary genius and that half of his battles and the source of conflict were with people who were unable to see his vision and logic. Jobs realised that the key to success in the consumer world was not just making the best product, but it was connecting and making it a personal experience that anyone from a school kid to grandma can relate to and he did that through simplicity. That was where the technical and business people of the time failed to recognise the opportunity that really did not exist. The key to success is through simplicity for people. Not everyone is a technical genius and or wants to tinker to get their devices to work. They just want something out of the box that works! This above all else is what I feel the movie conveyed best and it was what made Apple one of the most successful companies in history. They also eloquently pointed out that Apple’s demise during the late 80’s and early 90’s was due to the fact that the company had strayed away from that philosophy and that the board were more content to follow the status quo as opposed to Jobs’ vision of setting the road ahead.
Despite the number of slight factual errors and omissions, including Jobs’s purchase of Pixar which he turned into a multi-billion dollar company and subsequently sold to Disney, I found the movie overall enjoyable and it will provide the somewhat romanticised portrayal of the man that Apple fan boys and girls are looking for. I was hoping for a lot more in terms of covering the world’s reaction to the iMac, the iPod and subsequently the iPhone, but alas it wasn’t to be. It actually reminds me of the portrayal of Bruce Lee that was done in Dragon – The Bruce Lee Story. A film that was factually light and inaccurate in some areas but entertaining for a general audience. As I said before, if you are looking for a more hard core thorough take on Jobs and Apple then you had best look elsewhere. Aaron Sorkin who wrote the Oscar-winning THE SOCIAL NETWORK is working on his own biopic about Jobs and I was hoping for a more robust story there. Sorkin has announced that his biopic will focus on only three key moments that he feels defined Jobs’s life, which is disappointing because I feel if there was ever anyone who could tell a proper Steve Jobs story it would have been Sorkin.
If you have ever used an Apple product at any point in your life or have wondered how a college drop-out hippy became one of the most recognizable people on Earth then I highly recommend that you go check out this movie; even if you hate Apple and everything it stands for.
Review written by Daniel McIntosh