After reading so many comments about Jobs, a lot of them unflattering, I went to the cinema with a low expectation. I arrived early and found a line of moviegoers waiting to enter already, looking like a mixture of nerds (past and present), hipsters and Apple adherents.
The movie traces back Steve Jobs’ life from his college days as an ever-intense, carefree hippie to the idealistic and ruthless inventor that people came to admire. The movie portrays snippets of information that we know already – like Jobs’ obsession with fonts, his pain of being ‘abandoned’ by his birth parents, as well as his ever focused mind to deliver what he wanted to achieve. The issue with the movie starts with this – by providing snippets. For members of the audience who don’t know the background story, you wouldn’t understand why Jobs suddenly gets teary in the middle of the field with his friend Daniel Kottke (Lukas Haas) and his then-girlfriend Chris-Ann Brennan (Ahna O’Reilly) during a drug trip and suddenly says, “Why would you abandon a baby?”. You would also less likely to understand the turmoil that Jobs had when confronted with the news that his girlfriend was pregnant. A lot of this important information is almost assumed known by the director, Joshua Michael Stern. Because of this, the speed of the movie may seem erratic at times – cruising at a comfortable pace, and then followed by a series of jumps that may leave some uninformed moviegoers confused. I consider myself relatively informed – being a former geek – so I could pinpoint some of the incidents that I knew beforehand, such as his camaraderie with Steve Wozniak (Josh Gad), Jobs’ subsequent ousting from Apple due to poor company performance, and the comeback to Apple at the expense of the then-CEO Gil Amelio (Kevin Dunn).
At times I also see the parallel between this movie to The Social Network – like how both Jobs and Zuckerberg were considered outcasts and how they built the company with the assistance of some venture capitalists. However, this is where the similarity ends, the collaboration between Aaron Sorkin (the writer behind The West Wing and The Newsroom series) and David Fincher (the director of movies such as Se7en and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) make The Social Network a much smoother cinematic experience. Jobs on the other hand can feel a little bit tele-drama-esque at time. (Incidentally, Aaron Sorkin is reportedly working on another movie on Steve Jobs).
The music has also attracted some criticism, of which I agree. There are moments where the score is beautiful – similar to Thomas Newman’s music for American Beauty. However, a lot of the times the orchestral music is just way too obvious and overpowering. I also feel that the usage of the ‘period’ songs is way overdone. We get it that Jobs like Bob Dylan, okay, can we move along please?
Criticisms and weaknesses aside, I did enjoy Jobs – Aston Kucher to his credit, delivers a decent portrayal of Steve Jobs. I got the sense that Kucher tried very hard to portray this larger-than-life persona. The movie left me missing Steve Jobs, or the kind of visionaries like him around, who would pursue their dreams idealistically and then deliver their dreams. People who wouldn’t bend too much to limitations and chart their own path. The movie also portrays that Steve Jobs can be an a**sehole – but it seems that a lot of inventors and idealists share the same quality. They are unwilling to surrender to the current conventions and choose to show a better way forward.