I was not ready for how good "Steve Jobs" is. Like the Apple co-founder himself, the movie had a lot of problems on the path to success with a studio, director and actors either leaving or passing on the project. That often means something stinks. But the final team assembled works beautifully.
Michael Fassbender who is fast becoming one of my favorite actors, plays Jobs as cold and calculating, but with just enough warmth to keep us from completely hating him. It's a magnanimous performance.
The punchy screenplay by Oscar-winner Aaron Sorkin, based loosely on elements of the lengthy biography by Walter Isaacson, is riveting and innovative. It's like a play divided into three acts. We're backstage minutes before three major product launches spanning more than a decade.
Not to get all film geek on you, but director Danny Boyle shot the first third in grainy 16mm, the middle section in 35mm, and the final third in crystal clear digital. It mirrors the advances in technology throughout the movie, and the growing clarity also reflects Jobs coming to focus on what's most important to him.
The crux if the film is Jobs' relationship with the daughter he initially denied was his. We also get a glimpse at his business relationships, most notably the one with his partner Steve Wozniak played effectively by Seth Rogen. And Kate Winslet is wonderful as Jobs' publicist and conscience.
As engrossing as Sorkin's screenplay is, there are signs of some of his worst habits: there's anvil-to-the-head obvious dialogue like a father figure literally telling Jobs he's his father figure in case audiences didn't pick up on it, and there's an ending that feels way too neat and tidy to be believable. It's also not as sharp as his screenplay for "The Social Network" about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
But "Steve Jobs" is very good, and you'll be hearing a lot more about it come Oscar time.