Ignoring the arguments over what’s real and what’s fiction, this Steve Jobs biopic is undoubtedly compelling and features a cast who are on award-winning form.Indeed director Danny Boyle’s accomplished biopic sees the innovative modern filmmaker pulling out all the stops to bring acclaimed writer Aaron Sorkin’s script to life and do justice to the true underdog tale of Apple’s incremental battle to return to the fore, and of the importance of one of the biggest players in this whole saga – the company’s troubled prodigal son, Steve Jobs – who was not only co-founder but also arguably, later, the saviour, despite the fact that he appeared to have a rather gifted way of making everybody around him despise and resent him. With Sorkin’s script focussed intensely on three key release exhibitions across the decades, we learn everything we need to know about both the man and the company, and those who circle around the both of them like satellites, through the moments before these three releases, as Jobs clashes with both friends and foes (often one and the same, after the way he treats them) and proves almost as adept at alienating and excluding all those around him as he is at innovating.Boyle embraces this distinct three-act structure in every aspect of his production, choosing era-specific scoring for each period, distinct locations to reflect the changing times, and even using different film stocks and formats to further highlight the progress across the decades. It’s subtle yet effective, and brings the feature together into one cohesive whole. Central are a clutch of key characters brought to life by familiar faces, all perfectly chosen. Winslet is surprisingly understated as Jobs’ loyal assistant, whilst Seth Rogen is a natural as the unsung hero of Apple, Jobs’ silent colleague, Steve Wozniak. Of course it’s Fassbender’s baby; he manages to make Jobs into a compelling lead, capturing his development across the decades and offering hints at how this troubled man both functioned and thought. The end result is still limited - a snapshot of a far bigger picture about a person you’re inclined to dislike - but it proves intoxicating nonetheless, through the performances and through the power of Boyle’s wizardry. Recommended.
Picture QualitySteve Jobs hits UK Region Free Blu-ray, courtesy of Universal, with 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen.
Assisting in setting the time period for each separate ‘era’, we get a 16mm opening act, a 35mm second act, and a digitally-shot finale, all of which work perfectly for the chosen period, and help to further distinguish them even though Boyle does an excellent job at seamlessly blending the mixed formats together, making you feel less like the film or video source has changed, and more like the more modern era allows for a cleaner picture somehow. It’s subtle but highly effective. Detail remains, understandably, increasingly impressive across each period, with grain conversely decreasingly prevalent.
Shot in three distinct styles, using different formats to bring the three ‘acts’ to life, the presentation proves largely demo worthy in each one.
The 16mm format is the most textured, with the thickest swathe of grain helping set the period and age the image, and with suitably murky, muted tones; the 35mm image has a finer grain structure, affording more conventionally ‘modern’ clarity whilst retaining that superb filmic look, and boasting some more vibrant colour tones that are rich and deep and aren’t afraid to utilise primaries; and the digitally shot sequences pop with vivid primaries and boast the utmost clarity and sharpness combined with a polished, clinical look devoid of grain (at least devoid of natural grain).
The presentation allows each era and each image source to shine in demo glory, with few, if any, defects to impinge upon your viewing pleasure and much to marvel at across the runtime.
Sound QualityOn the aural front the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is a robust and equally demo-worthy accompaniment that thoroughly enriches the production.
Sorkin’s razor-sharp, machine-gun dialogue rattles out with crisp clarity, albeit at a breakneck pace that will leave you exhausted come the close of the feature. Obviously taking dominant control over the piece, it remains at the forefront of the track, whilst effects are wholly natural and atmospheric, bringing the eager crowds to life with foot-stomping, Mexican wave glee, cheering and howling in a fashion that lights up the array and draws you right into the thick of the furore. Beyond the all-important script, however, it’s the subtle yet persistent score that oftentimes defines the piece.
Similarly split into three acts, the score itself follows the shifting visual styles to distinguish the three ages of Steve Jobs.
With 80s synths bringing the first act to life, whilst the second act takes on a sweeping orchestral arc, and the finale is enshrouded in modern digital electronic ambience, Daniel Pemberton’s score feels perfect for a (recent) Danny Boyle production, popping with oppressive beats, building with percussive rhythm, and prepared to turn on a dime to remind you that it is, at its core, still inextricably linked to the narrative itself, literally pausing mid-sentence, before resuming once the point has been made in the dialogue. It makes for a wonderful accompaniment to the feature and is given a faithful, eminently demo-worth promotion here.
ExtrasHeadlined by not one but two feature-length Audio Commentaries, director Danny Boyle’s solo affair only slightly bests the joint commentary from writer Aaron Sorkin and editor Elliot Graham. Boyle keeps up a hell of a pace, providing both technical information and anecdotal snippets, proving in command of every aspect of the production, whilst the second track looks more into the story preparation before and the editing process afterwards, with a few more pauses along the way. They are, however, both excellent.
Although ostensibly only providing a trio of extras, they are each substantial and excellent, making for comprehensive background into the production.
Beyond these superb offerings, a hefty 45 minute Making-Of Documentary provides yet further background, split into three parts of roughly equal quarter-hour durations dipping into Fassbender’s portray of Jobs, the story juxtaposed with reality, and the directorial style – shifting between eras; then the supporting cast; and finally the films score and the locations used for the shoot, all of which were specifically chosen to help further emphasise the different eras.
Blu-ray VerdictImpressively acted and impressively put-together, with a top-notch presentation and comprehensive extras, the only hesitation lies in whether or not there’s enough here to ever draw you back in.
Despite the power of the lead performances, and of Sorkin’s now-trademark razor-sharp script, Steve Jobs’ tale doesn’t, on the face of it, appear to provide much in the way of rewatch value. It will be interesting to see how it fares upon second and third viewings. Nonetheless, for those committed to adding the disc to their collection, the excellent video, audio and extras won’t disappoint.
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