In 1984, Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) is about to unveil his new Macintosh computer to the world. Just as the crowd is about to start pouring in, the focal point of his presentation quits working. Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg), the only person who could fix it, tells him there isn’t time. Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), Steve’s assistant, tries to get him ready to go forward with the presentation, even if his premier feature won’t work.
As the Macintosh fails to meet sales projections, Apple’s CEO, John Sculley (Jeff Daniels) forced Jobs out of the company. Still pursuing his vision of changing the world through computers, Jobs sets out on his own, taking Joanna with him. His next project, aptly named “Next,” is to be unveiled in the same high-profile manner as the Macintosh. When the Next fails even more spectacularly than the Macintosh, Jobs rejoins Apple. Apple knows he is the only one capable of creating the operating system they so desperately seek.
While Jobs is focused on the fast-paced world of technology, he also must deal with his ex, Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston), and her daughter, Lisa (Makenzie Moss, Ripley Sobo, and Perla Haney-Jardine). Chrisann claims Steve is Lisa’s father, a fact he denies, often in front of Lisa. Steve’s ambition and drive leave little time for drama involved with having a daughter and her mother.
Steve Jobs centers less on the actual technological achievements of the man who is considered to be one of the most innovative men, and more on the struggles it took to get to that point.
I have read articles saying Jobs’ family don’t exactly approve of the film. It is easy to see why they wouldn’t like it. The film paints him as a bit of a dick. He denies his daughter. He is cold and unfeeling towards his coworkers. I think some of this is necessary for someone to create a company as forward thinking and driven as Apple. Michael Fassbender does an excellent job portraying the man behind the company. His failures, which are highlighted in the film, made him who he became. His determination comes across in every aspect.
Kate Winslet is also great as Jobs’ faithful assistant. She never leaves his side, even when he is forced out of Apple. She keeps him grounded, as much as possible. And she tries to mediate where Chrisann and Lisa are involved. Jeff Daniels feels natural in his role as John Sculley. Mainly because it is similar to a lot of characters he has played in previous films.
What is most surprising is Seth Rogen. Rogen plays Jobs’ former partner, Steve Wozniak. Wozniak shows up to every product launch, mainly to support Jobs. He also pleads with Jobs to acknowledge the contributions of the Apple II team at every event. After all, they helped make the Macintosh, and consequently, everything that came after it, what it was. I was expecting Rogen’s character to be a typical Seth Rogen portrayal and a distraction. Instead, he gives a convincing, serious performance.
At times, I felt the film tried a little too hard. It continuously pushes Jobs’ insistence that everything be a closed system. It also tried too hard to force known products into the story, namely the iPod. The story is intense, and it doesn’t let up. From the stresses of technology problems, to corporate politics, to personal issues, the story is tense from beginning to end. It fits with the film, given what it must be like to lead a company like Apple.
Steve Jobs gives us a small bit of insight into the life of someone many consider a genius. It probably isn’t a movie I will ever watch again, but it was interesting to watch. Thankfully, it comes off less like an Apple commercial than I expected. Wait for it to come to the RedBox.