Biography Blu-ray Review

'Steve Jobs' Blu-ray Review: A mesmerizing biopic about the Apple co-founder and his antisocial network

February 16, 2016Ben MK

Steve Jobs is a unique film. On the one hand, director Danny Boyle's feature about the late Apple co-founder certainly has all the markings of a biopic, casting Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs himself. But on the other, the movie deliberately fictionalizes the material that is Jobs' life, with screenwriter Aaron Sorkin rearranging events and even reinterpreting them to suit the needs of the narrative.

Structured as three distinct acts set in 1984, 1988 and 1998, the narrative unfolds through Jobs' interaction with the same people — namely, marketing executive Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen), developer Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg), Apple CEO John Sculley (Jeff Daniels), former girlfriend Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston) and their daughter Lisa (played at different ages by Makenzie Moss, Ripley Sobo and Perla Haney-Jardine) — just prior to the launch of three key products: the Apple Macintosh, the NeXT Black Cube and the Apple iMac.

Of course, in reality, events didn't conveniently happen that way. But as Sorkin points out in the behind-the-scenes features, his approach to writing the film wasn't to create a completely authentic biopic, but rather to identify the major conflicts in Jobs' life and then to play them out in dramatic fashion. To that end, the film is a clear-cut success, providing audiences with an engaging and thoroughly compelling encapsulation of Jobs' story. And, unsurprisingly, it invites comparisons to Sorkin's work on the 2010 Mark Zuckerberg biopic The Social Network in the process.

Like The Social Network, Steve Jobs' central character is a man who oftentimes comes across as antisocial and cold-hearted. Yet, unlike the manner in which David Fincher's film portrayed the Facebook founder, Steve Jobs also portrays Jobs as a man with the potential to be compassionate. The end result isn't just a complex character study that concisely sums up what readers might have gleaned about Jobs from journalist Walter Isaacson's similarly-titled biography. It's a film that walks that fine line between fact and fiction, but without sacrificing one for the other.

Shot both digitally and with a combination of traditional 16mm and 35mm film, Steve Jobs' varied visual palette translates well to Blu-ray, with a 1080p image that boasts rich colors and inky blacks, perfectly recreating the heavy grain structure of 16mm shots while delivering the clarity integral to scenes filmed on 35mm and with the Alexa digital camera. As for the audio, the disc's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix proves more than capable of meeting the demands of the movie's soundstage, comprised primarily of dialogue, the sound of thunderous applause and a score that blends full orchestral compositions with music created on a Minimoog, a Yamaha CS-80 and a 1998-era Mac.

Universal's two-disc release includes an UltraViolet digital copy, a DVD and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Inside Jobs: The Making of Steve Jobs (44:11) - An insightful, three-part documentary that delves into Michael Fassbender's performance, Aaron Sorkin's script, Danny Boyle's direction, the supporting characters, the rehearsals, the challenges of shooting in some of the real-life locales, the cinematography, the score and the legacy of Steve Jobs himself.
  • Feature Commentary with Director Danny Boyle - In the first of two commentary tracks for the movie, Boyle talks about such things as filming the movie in chronological order, the actors' performances, the editing, the production design and more.
  • Feature Commentary with Writer Aaron Sorkin and Editor Elliot Graham - In the film's second commentary, Sorkin and Graham team up to discuss the film's editing, the cinematography, the script and its dialogue, the pacing and the actors' performances, as well as tell a few stories from the movie's production and more.

Steve Jobs is available from Universal Studios Home Entertainment as of February 16th, 2016. The Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French and Spanish DTS 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles. The total runtime is 2 Hrs. 2 Mins.

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