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Review Roundup: Is ‘Steve Jobs’ as Brilliant as Its Subject?

Review Roundup: Is 'Steve Jobs' as Brilliant as Its Subject?

Our own Anne Thompson calls “Steve Jobs” “must-see, one-of-a-kind cinema that cannot be ignored,” and the vast majority of critics agree. Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin’s biopic, starring Michael Fassbender as Jobs and Kate Winslet as Macintosh marketing chief Joanna Hoffmann, has drawn praise for its sterling performances, crackling dialogue, and Boyle’s inventive approach to the script’s three set pieces, marking the film as a strong contender in this year’s Oscar race.

READ MORE: “‘Steve Jobs’ Soars: Danny Boyle and His Cast Ride Aaron Sorkin’s Exhilarating Screenplay”

Focusing on three of Jobs’ famed product launches—the original Macintosh computer in 1984, his NeXt black cube in 1988, and the iMac in 1998—Boyle and cinematographer Alwin H. Küchler shoot each of the three sections in a different format: 16mm, 35mm, and hi-res digital, respectively, mirroring the march of time and technology as well as the protagonist’s meteoric, often tumultuous rise. Read excerpts from several major critics’ reviews of the film, including at least one pan, below:

READ MORE: “How They Shot ‘Steve Jobs’ from Inside Out with Three Different Looks”

Eric Kohn, Indiewire:
“The biggest transformation in ‘Jobs’… involves its director. Boyle, who took on the project following David Fincher’s departure, drops his usual whirlwind editing style and instead develops an engrossing chamber piece. It’s the rare Boyle production that doesn’t so much burrow inside its character’s mind as it explores the chaos he conjures up around him. Still, as Boyle and Sorkin both treasure the value of forward momentum, the pace of ‘Steve Jobs’ is its true star. While the story covers 14 years, it never takes a breather.”

A.O. Scott, New York Times:
“‘Steve Jobs’ is a rich and potent document of the times, an expression of both the awe that attends sophisticated new consumer goods and the unease that trails in the wake of their arrival. The movie burnishes the image of this visionary C.E.O. even as it tries to peek behind the curtain at the gimcrack machinery of omnipotence. Mostly, though, it is a formally audacious, intellectually energized entertainment, a powerful challenge to the lazy conventions of Hollywood storytelling and a feast for connoisseurs of contemporary screen acting.”

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times:
“The word ‘theatrical’ is used advisedly, because Sorkin not only has written bold, heightened dialogue, but daringly structured “Steve Jobs” as more or less a three-act play… Sorkin’s dialogue is as good as it gets (he wrote ‘The West Wing’ and won an Oscar for ‘The Social Network’), but putting it on screen in a vigorous, involving way can be a challenge, and no one could be better at meeting that than Boyle.”

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal:
“The primary product is entertainment; ‘Steve Jobs’ never ceases to be interesting. That’s due in part to Mr. Boyle’s signature zestfulness—he’s a director who exults in the possibilities of the medium—plus Mr. Sorkin’s equally distinctive style, which flings words around like high-energy particles in an accelerator. Much of the interest, of course, flows from our unquenchable fascination with Steve Jobs, whose vision informed or sustained not one but two singular corporate entities, Apple and Pixar Animation Studios.”

Dana Stevens, Slate:
“It’s interesting to imagine what [David] Fincher, with his eagle eye for vanity and other human follies, might have made of Sorkin’s genially misanthropic script. As it is, ‘Steve Jobs’ feels like a sharply written, flamboyantly over-directed, meticulously acted, probably inaccurate, and necessarily incomplete portrait of the enigmatic black-clad man whose vision of the future helped create the 21st century as we know it. Can we let a little more of that century go by before someone undertakes another attempt to explain him?”

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