Steve Jobs (2015): A Review

Reviewed by Vladi

Steve Jobs Poster

Ladies, gentlemen, and other such creatures, today iGET to review Steve Jobs, the newest Steve Jobs biopic. Directed by Danny Boyle. This film gives us a look at the iconic character and entrepreneur. The film covers three main launching events: the original Mac launch in 1984, Steve Jobs’ NEXT launch in 1988, and finally the iMac unveiling in 1998.

The movie follows the three launch events in chronological order. Michael Fassbender introduces us to his Steve Jobs as a strongly ambitious, albeit creative, ass-hole. He has big dreams regarding the future of the PC, and he has little care for what anyone else thinks or does. He’s often rude and abrasive with his colleagues and friends, making himself no allies, and has nothing but complete disregard for the shareholders and CEO’s at Apple. His eyes are fixed on the stars, and he often buds heads with people who remind him that he still has to walk on Earth.

Due to his arrogant and mean nature he has little enough people in his life that he can barely call friends, but even those relationships are shaky at best when more and more pressure is put on them by Jobs’ incessant attempts and ventures into pursuing the new frontiers of PC’s. Joanna Hoffman (played by Kate Winslet) is one of the few people Steve is willing to listen to, and ultimately respect. Kate Winslet does a great job playing the main supporting cast, more often than not challenging Jobs where most people would cower, giving us some good dialogue, drama, and more often than not, entertaining witty banter. Seth Rogen plays Steve Wozniak, hardware engineer, one of the founding members of Apple, and one of Steve’s “friends.” He is responsible for delivering some of the more intense and dramatic scenes in the movie by challenging his old friend and colleague on matters of principle and decency. Jeff Daniels also must be mentioned as John Sculley, a CEO of apple which has a very bipolar relationship with Jobs. One as his CEO, and one as an almost father-figure. Sculley has a lot of admiration for the man and entrepreneur, but little enough for the dreamer, making for a very entertaining and rich relationship.

He has to deal with Chrisann Brennan, a former lover of his, and her daughter, Lisa. Jobs continually refuses to admit that Lisa is his daughter even after a DNA test proves a 94% probability. Chrisann wants financial stability for her daughter and herself, and on several occasions has to beg from and fight her former lover to get it. While Jobs maintains that Lisa isn’t his daughter, he starts a relationship with her that is far from perfect, but is never the less quite touching, and we see that relationship change and grow as the movie goes on.

Danny Boyle is a great director. He’s known for 28 Days Later, Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire, and 127 Hours. All of these movies don’t look that good on paper. If you were to read their plot synopsis, you would go “Yes, and ?”, however if you were to watch them, you would sit in your chair, holding in your bladder, because you are absolutely hooked on what you are seeing. Simply put, the man has a gift for “energy.” He can take something seemingly simple and passive, and make it vibrant. The entire plot of the movie doesn’t just centre around the launch events, but IS the launch events. We get to see Jobs’ few hours before each event, and how he interacts with the people closest to him. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “That sounds… so lame.” But it really is far from that. Leave it to Danny Boyle to get you interested and hooked onto this man’s life with just a series of conversations. That’s the hallmark of good writing and good character development. While I can’t rightfully say that you begin to like Jobs as this movie progresses (as he is a colossal ass-hole), you definitely begin to care what happens. Each supporting cast character is very well shaped and written, and challenges and brings out different aspects of Jobs’ personality and struggles.

iAM not a big fan of Apple or Steve Jobs, but I enjoyed this movie immensely. I didn’t walk away thinking that Jobs is a PC messiah, or anything of the sort, but I definitely walked away thinking he’s an interesting personality worth knowing about. Like most innovators and dreamers, his passion is highly intoxicating and attractive, and it draws you in. The cool thing is that that passion is very well counterbalanced by his arrogance and pride, making for a very grey and interesting character. And I will give credit to this movie where credit is due. It doesn’t trip over its own heels in an attempt to redeem its tragic hero. By the end of the movie, you get the good with the bad, and it’s still very hard to make up your mind, which I personally really like. Mostly because most people and situations in real life really are grey. It’s not so simple to draw the good from the bad and to make a definitive decision. Sometimes good people do bad things, and sometimes bad people do good things, sometimes people just do things, and that’s why they are interesting. And this movie did that very well.

So there you have it. iLIKE it, and you should see it!

Chappie: A Review

Do androids dream of electric sheep? Do celebrities make bad actors? Does a dog lick its own balls? Yes, and so does Chappie. 

Chappie is a film written and directed by Neill Blomkamp. It stars Sharlto Copley as Chappie, Dev Patel as Deon Wilson, Chappie’s creator, and Hugh Jackman as an angry, steroid ridden, ridiculously terrible antagonist who doesn’t deserve a name. Also, Die Antwoord, but more of that later.

The movie takes place in Johannesburg, where crime has been rampant. With the help of new police Scout Droids, however, the government has been able to establish order again. Deon Wilson, brilliant young programmer is the designer of these scouts. And while happy with his success, he is more interested in creating AI that can feel and think for itself. An AI that can develop its own emotions and own personality. Enter Chappie.

On the other side of town, we have Die Antwoord, a small group of heist criminals. They get in a bit of trouble with the local gangs, and need something short of a miracle to get out of a massive loan that’s hanging over their heads. How can they hope to steal enough money in time to pay their way out of death? Enter Chappie.

For those of you unfamiliar with Die Antwoord, they are a South African hip hop duo known for their explicit lyrics and music videos. They have a pretty crazy sound and image. Apparently the director was a big fan, so he decided they had to be in his movie. But to act a certain role, or to do a small cameo? No. They are more or less the main characters and spotlight of this film when Chappie isn’t yammering away in his awesome South African accent. They don’t even act, they just play themselves. And while they can be highly entertaining at times, there’s no hiding the fact that they are plain ridiculous.  They can’t act, and their personas don’t really have a place in this movie.

To the movie’s credit, it asks a lot of interesting questions about AI. It brings up the notion that personality, human or otherwise, may one day be boiled down to a highly complex mathematical algorithm. It asks some good questions about what makes us truly human, truly ourselves and not someone else. It makes a very good case for sentient machines being more than just that. In that regard, the movie truly does deserve a thumbs up.

Also, I would be doing a great disservice to Sharlto Copley if I didn’t mention how good his performance was in this. Any scene we have Chappie in, it’s hard to imagine that somebody actually acted out his performance. That he wasn’t just merely created like that, the perfect, endearing, little robot. His mannerisms, gestures and voice are absolutely spot on. Any scene he’s in, he absolutely steals the screen for the better. He could actually make me forget about the Die Antwoord parts of the movie and make me feel like I’m watching a good film again. However, inevitably, the Die Antwoord parts kept coming in, louder, and dumber in sequence.

Much like District 9, Blomkamp’s last successful film, you have a very good idea and concept which is executed very poorly. The narrative simply doesn’t carry its own weight. The writing is outright laughable in many parts. Any scene with Hugh Jackman is absolutely cringe worthy. Don’t get me wrong, Hugh Jackman is a GREAT actor. But in this film, everything he has to work with is a train wreck. Even the tone is all over the place. You go from Disney/Spielberg “aww” moments, to slapstick comedy, to people being graphically disembodied, to heart-wrenching drama… It really feels all over the place. The movie’s tone and direction are definitely not unified and defined.

If you got a Friday night to kill and there’s nothing better, this movie might be worth your dollar. It should give you a few good laughs, make you ponder a question or two. As long as you don’t take it too seriously, you might actually enjoy yourself. But don’t look for a proper film here.

Sorry, ol’ Chap.