Steve Jobs is considered a good movie
Who is the Better Steve Jobs?
Last week the new biopic Steve Jobs by Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle started in German cinemas. The film about Apple CEO, who died in 2011, is based on the official biography of Walter Isaacson and is already the second Steve Jobs film in three years. As early as 2013, a film biography was dedicated to the famous businessman under the title jOBS - The Success Story of Steve Jobs. Back then, Ashton Kutcher (Two and a Half Men) took on the lead role, while X-Men star Michael Fassbender portrayed Jobs in Boyle's work. We took a closer look at the differences between the two Steve Jobs representations.
Steve Jobs as a choleric hippie
The 2013 film adaptation of the Steve Jobs story was penned by the newcomer Matt Whiteley and adapted by the almost equally unknown director Joshua Michael Stern. The film focuses on the genesis of Apple and the rise of college dropout Steve Jobs to billionaire CEO. At the beginning of the film, Jobs is characterized as a barefoot, drug-experimenting hippie. The young Jobs is cheeky and has good ideas, but also because of his relaxed attitude towards personal hygiene, he cannot work well with other people.
Together with his friend Steve Wozniak (Josh Gad) he founds the computer company Apple out of the garage of his adoptive parents. Jobs is working more and more focused, but is also becoming more and more aggressive and ruthless towards his friends. Ashton Kutcher looks astonishingly similar to the real Job and has also adapted his walk and pronunciation to the late Apple boss. Kutcher's Jobs screams and cries a lot, vehemently denies the paternity of his daughter Lisa and is loud and unyielding in confrontations with his employees.
Overall, the critics were positively surprised by Kutcher's account. The great resemblance of the actor to the real Steve Jobs and Kutcher's ambitious performance is emphasized again and again, as here in a review by Rolling Stone Magazine:
Kutcher hits the nail on the head. He captures genius and narcissism with his subtle but stunning portrayal.
However, many critics found it difficult to completely ignore Kutcher's comedy past. Kutcher's commitment couldn't make up for the weaknesses in the script either. While the actor succeeded in expressing the increasing ambition and perfectionism of his real role model physically and mimically, the script could not keep up, according to Indiewire, for example.
Steve Jobs as a screwed up adopted child
Danny Boyle's Steve Jobs has a completely different focus than JOBS. The film is divided into three acts, each of which plays in real time before important product presentations. This special dramaturgy means that the protagonist is only shown in extremely tense situations. He moves from one confrontation to the next and is constantly referred to as condescending, obsessive, irritating, or paranoid. On the other hand, the greater focus on the social and personal side of Steve Jobs allows a deeper insight into the psyche of the character.
This film job was visibly shaped by his experiences as an adopted child, which is reflected in his stubbornness and behavior towards his fellow human beings. Overall, the problematic relationship with his daughter plays a much bigger role than in the film with Ashton Kutcher. In Steve Jobs, Michael Fassbender portrays the Apple CEO as a man who, despite all the harshness and arrogance, repeatedly questions himself and maintains an intimate relationship with his marketing manager Joanna Hoffmann (Kate Winslet) based on sharp humor. Danny Boyle's version of the story allows himself a lot of creative freedom, because hardly any of the situations portrayed actually took place like this. Accordingly, the attempt to explain Jobs' behavior must also be seen as the filmmaker's interpretation.
Compared to jOBS with Ashton Kutcher, many critics noticed how little resemblance Michael Fassbender bears with Steve Jobs. Nevertheless, Fassbender's performance is extremely fluid, thrilling and wild. Fassbender would find the right mix between intellectual charm, biting wit and a strong, unyielding personality. At Variety it says:
Fassbender overcomes the obvious casting hurdle (he doesn't look like Jobs at all, whose Arab-American origins will be briefly mentioned) and delivers a gripping performance that fits very well into his respectable résumé. That the actor is on screen every minute is all the better since it is impossible to take your eyes or ears away from him. This is an actor who knows exactly how to perform Sorkin's dialogue, with the right emphasis, confidence, and authority.
The bottom line
Which is the better film is easier to judge than the better Steve Jobs interpretation. Despite different approaches, both versions basically pursue the same goal: A multi-layered Steve Jobs portrait that strikes the right balance between inspiring genius on the one hand and an arrogant egocentric on the other. Ashton Kutcher does his best in jOBS to do just that, but the film lacks a human component overall that would allow the viewer a glimpse into the psyche of the Apple boss. While jOBS is certainly the more objective representation of Jobs' personality and Ashton Kutcher comes visually closer to real Jobs, the conventionally told story doesn't get any more gripping.
The intense performance of Fassbender makes Steve Jobs appear more cruel and terrifying than Kutcher's somewhat caricature-like freak at the beginning of the film. Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin weren't so strict about factual fidelity, but the film's unusual structure prevents the filmmakers from turning it around. Boyle was clearly not interested in retelling the life and success story of the Apple boss in great detail. The focus is much more on the person Steve Jobs and offers an, albeit fictional, explanation for his problematic character and the fascinating attraction of the successful businessman.
Ashton Kutcher or Michael Fassbender - Who is the better job?
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