“Steve Jobs” movie review

SteveJobsA mesmerizing and controversial bio-pic. This seems to be the year for the biographical motion picture. Universal Pictures and Legendary’s Steve Jobs takes you on a journey through the most signifiant product launches of the late co-founder of Apple’s career. Despite the fact that Jobs is revered as a genius and one of the most influential men in American history, this movie does not shy away from painting an accurate portrait of his personal and professional life. Although he is loved and admired by so many people, his character is one that you will most likely dislike through most of the narrative. From open to close, you will be glued to your seat in awe and surprise. This is definitely one of the most intriguing and intense bio-pics I have seen in a long time. Throughout the narrative, there is a constant theme of control and design. Complete with a brilliant cast and impeccable writing, this is definitely one to watch out for at the next Academy Awards.

Steve Jobs is about the early career of the co-founder of Apple. You will go on a journey through the most important product launch successes and failures of Jobs’ (Fassbender) career. From being fired from the very company that he co-founded to the love-hate relationship he has with his daughter and the hatred for her mother, you will learn what prompted Jobs to make the decisions he did and how each decision affected his relationships with friends and colleagues. Discover why “end to end control” was so important to the designs of the MacIntosh and Apple computers.

Michael Fassbender truly shines as the genius behind Apple’s phoenix-like return from the ashes of its darkest days. Not only does he resemble Jobs in appearance, but he also captures the very essence of what made Jobs tick and why he became the success he was professionally. Fassbender also delivers powerful performances in his altercations with colleagues and his presumed family. The intenseness of his conflicts and triumphs transcends the screen and compels your attention through the entire film. Often in movies, you either want to love or love to hate the protagonist; and that element rings very true in this film. For nearly the entire movie, I hated Steve Jobs. Funny, because I use all Apple products. But, during the end of the third act, I made a radical shift and saw the glimmer of hope that has caused millions of Apple fans to adore him so much during the latter years of his career. More than anyone else, he believed in his designs and methods of product launches. Only his director of marketing Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet) seemed to be the one he confided in most or could control the man who was insistent on “end to end control” throughout his dynamic career. Winslet also delivers a commanding performance as Hoffman who stuck by Jobs from product to product, advising him when he wouldn’t hear of anyone else’s opinions. She is the single person who held helped the public not to despise him as much as most everyone else did behind the scenes.

So often I find that bio-pics can tend to romanticize the protagonist by glossing over the more negative events of his or her life. Not so with Steve Jobs. The remarkable element of the writing is the commitment to reality and just laying all the positive and negative events and encounters out there for the audience. Highlighting the more negative events is extremely important to this film because that is where the very dynamic character arc comes from. If you loved or hated Jobs the entire time, it would not be nearly as impactful. But because you will likely hate him for most of the movie until the end and then quickly turn a 180, that is where the magic of this movie lies. There are times that you think that he will budge from his stances on design teams and products, but then he is just as stubborn or relentless as he is throughout the story. Oddly enough, his penchant for complete control is what tanks and then resurrects the tech company. The story is gripping and whether you are an Apple product fan or not, this movie is an excellent example of how a completely candid bio-pic can still prompt the adoration of the public despite the dark elements and poor decisions in relationships with friends and lovers.

If you are an Apple product fan, this is definitely a film to catch because it takes you behind the sleek product displays and technology launches. Learning about Steve Jobs the man actually gives a new-found appreciation for the company he helped start, got fired from, and rehired again. The amazing cast and brilliant writing enables this film to be admired for its commitment to the art of biographical motion pictures.

Insurgent

InsurgentFaction before blood, or in this case, genre before story. In a series/franchise that struggles to separate itself from other YA (Young Adult) novel-turned-movies, Insurgent fails to live up to the expectation and hype that it generated. To her credit, Shailene Woodley (Tris) gives it her very best; but, her constant struggle to support the dystopian narrative is quite evident. The quality of the movie should come of no surprise due to the teaser trailer’s sub-par, CGI-driven, look. For the lovers of digital effects, this movie is in no short supply. However, it is this type of over-the-top and, at times, gaudy special effects that creates a flashy movie nearly devoid of a substantial plot. In trilogies and franchises, it is vitally important that the middle film(s) advances the plot and highlights crises, chaos, confusion, and emotion instead of just being filler to bridge the gap between the beginning and the end. Clearly, this installment in the Divergent series serves as further evidence that sequels often suffer and rarely live up to the audience expectations setup by the previous movie.

This installment of the Divergent series entitled Insurgent takes us back to the walled city of former Chicago. After the massacre of Abnegation, Erudite leader Jeanine Matthew (Kate Winslet) asserts that the Dauntless faction is responsible for the deaths of nearly all Abnegation. Furthermore, she connects the Divergents to Dauntless and issues orders that they are to be seized or killed because of the threat they impose on life in the “peaceful” city. Tris (Woodley) and Four (Theo James) desperately search for allies in the looming war that appears to be manifesting with every passing day. Both Jeanine and Tris endeavor to uncover the answer as to what was so important that Tris’ parents sacrificed themselves. Many secrets will be revealed to friend and foe as the quest for answers to the past ultimately point to the future of the factioned and factionless. In this quest for freedom and power, new power-hungry peoples will rise and seemingly unsurmountable challenges will face our heroes as the people of ruined Chicago attempt to bring about peace to the city and eliminate any and all threats to the way of life that has been such a part of its citizens for many decades.

I don’t typically look to the YA genre for impeccable acting and narratives rich with subtext and substance; but I do look for high concept, well-crafted movies that keep my attention for a couple of hours. Just because a movie fits into the YA-Dystopian genre, doesn’t mean that it has to follow every trope and hesitate to introduce new concepts. Unfortunately, Insurgent just seems to be like most other movies in this genre and runs the risk of boring the audience. Keeping the audience’s attention is crucial, especially when many members of the audience already know what’s going to happen due to having read the books. Even though I believe that a movie based on a work of literature (or a play) needs to keep true to the source material, it is also equally important for the writer and/or director to add something new–something unexpected–to keep anticipation high and build suspense as the story unfolds.

Just like a singular cinematic narrative must, under most circumstances, follow the classic three-act structure, the same is also true for a trilogy. Paralleling the respective three-act structure in each individual film in a trilogy, the trilogy itself is encumbered to follow in suit. If you are unfamiliar, the three act structure consists of: The Setup, The Confrontation, followed by The Resolution (or realization). Within each of the acts are various plot points; and between the first & second and second & third acts, there are two crucially important, and major, plot twists to transition and advance the plot. In an ideal and well-produced trilogy, the first movie should be the “setup,” the second installment should serve as the majority of the “confrontation,” and the third movie should highlight the “resolution.” What we have with Insurgent is a movie that pretty much doesn’t advance the plot nearly as much as it should have. This leads to the poor pacing and mostly hollow narrative. There is some meat there, but not nearly enough to fill two hours. In other words, it feels as if the movie mostly just treads water instead of heading for the finish line.

Insurgent definitely contains some entertainment value; but, I cannot say that it was an entertaining as the previous installment. I have not read the books, but if this movie keeps true to the novel, then the writers and director should have taken the creative liberty and adding in material that would have increased the visual storytelling quality of the film, without breaking from the very essence of the story. Hopefully, this filler movie has paved the way for a dramatic and exciting finish with the next movie Allegiant. Comparing it to other sequels, it fairs about the same; but, if you have some extra time this weekend, it could serve to keep you mildly entertained for a couple of hours.