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Steve Jobs: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

Steve Jobs (2015) movie poster Steve Jobs

Theatrical Release: October 9, 2015 / Running Time: 122 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Danny Boyle / Writers: Aaron Sorkin (screenplay), Walter Isaacson (book Steve Jobs)

Cast: Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs), Kate Winslet (Joanna Hoffman), Seth Rogen (Steve Wozniak), Jeff Daniels (John Sculley), Michael Stuhlbarg (Andy Hertzfeld), Katherine Waterston (Chrisann Brennan), Perla Haney-Jardine (Lisa Brennan - 19), Ripley Sobo (Lisa Brennan - 9), Makenzie Moss (Lisa Brennan - 5), Sarah Snook (Andrea Cunningham), John Ortiz (Joel Pforzheimer), Adam Shapiro (Avie Tevanian)

Buy Steve Jobs from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD • DVD • Instant Video

Apple co-founder and longtime CEO Steve Jobs was rich, influential, and iconic enough for Hollywood to feel obligated to give him the biopic treatment following his 2011 death. As it happens, two narrative films about the technology visionary were swiftly conceived. The first, titled Jobs and starring Ashton Kutcher, struck out with critics and at the box office upon its release in August 2013.
The second, Steve Jobs, has higher hopes. It arrived in time for awards season from a talented pedigree: Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire), Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network), and a cast led by Oscar nominee Michael Fassbender and one-time winner, perennial nominee Kate Winslet. With 2013's movie already forgotten, this one ran little risk of being mistaken for the other.

After a short clip from the 1960s of sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke successfully forecasting the computer's importance, the film opens in 1984 at the conference in which Jobs (Fassbender) is about to introduce the Macintosh personal computer, complete with a powerful big budget commercial inspired by George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984. It should be an exciting time for Jobs and his company, but he isn't at all enjoying the moment. He's stressing out over a program that is supposed to allow a computer to say "hello" to those in attendance. The program is suffering from a last-minute glitch and Jobs is pressuring its maker (Michael Stuhlbarg) to get it working now as if his life depended on it.

Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) is made uneasy by a visit from Chrisann (Katherine Waterston), his ex-girlfriend and alleged baby mama.

Backstage, Jobs is also wrestling with personal conflict. His ex-girlfriend Chrisann (Katherine Waterston) is there along with Lisa, the 5-year-old daughter Jobs insists is not his (despite his company having a computer named the Lisa), asking for financial assistance beyond the state-mandated pittance. By Jobs' side is his trusty girl Friday, Polish-American head of marketing Joanna Hoffman (Winslet), who puts up with her boss' preposterous claims and stubborn moral stands.

As written by Sorkin, this Jobs is something of an egomaniac. He is self-righteous, vindictive, and abrasive. He cringes at the sight of TIME Magazine's covers featuring the competition's computers (IBM), claiming a reporter's digging into his personal life has cost him Man of the Year honors. Prickly and precise, Jobs clashes with Apple's co-founder Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen) over Macintosh's architecture, insisting their computer needs only two ports (one for modem, one for printer) and that the consumer doesn't need choice or flexible technology. He also butts heads with Apple CEO John Sculley (Jeff Daniels).

The vast majority of the film plays out backstage at conferences, Jobs' perfectionist nature trumping his modest people skills again and again. Fassbender is a compelling performer and he throws himself at this part, a role he only seemed slightly better suited for than Kutcher. But no matter how flawless his American accent and no matter how well he pulls off Jobs' signature ensemble of black turtleneck, blue jeans, and New Balance sneakers, the real star of the film is Aaron Sorkin. Famous for creating and showrunning "The West Wing" and HBO's "The Newsroom" as well as penning a handful of respected screenplays including Moneyball, A Few Good Men, and the kindred aforementioned Social Network, Sorkin is as decorated and distinctive as any writer in the business. He seizes Steve Jobs as an opportunity to remind us of his gifts for writing sharp, cutting dialogue.

Most of the film unfolds with Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) conferring with his trusty and tireless head of marketing, Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet) in the tense moments before major product launches.

It is tough to assess Sorkin's research and accuracy. Though it cites Walter Isaacson's Jobs-authorized 2011 biography as its basis, the film has been subject to rumblings of disapproval from Apple and from Jobs' widow, who not only opted not to assist the production but even, it was recently reported, asked some major stars not to portray her husband.

The film absolutely plays out like an Aaron Sorkin production, with zingers hurled in various directions and underappreciated mortals placed in the destructive path of a chippy, exacting genius. Much of the banter feels imagined and scripted, even if the gist of the exchanges presumably aligns with what has been documented.

The real value of Steve Jobs lies not in learning about its subject or his personal life (which apart from his paternity dispute and stingy child support is left out), but in seeing this famous figure wrestle with success and failure over the course of fourteen years. The movie ends in 1998 at the event where Jobs is about to unveil the game-changing iMac. His guarded health battles and much-anticipated product launches to come are nowhere to be seen. The company's garage tinkering origins are treated to mere glimpses and the rivalry between Apple and Microsoft, dramatized in the 1999 TNT movie Pirates of Silicon Valley, is present only as subtext. Steve Jobs cannot be accused of being a conventional, standard issue biopic. Nor can it be described as lurid and opportunistic, as certain people have declared it sight unseen.

Boyle does inject some filmic flair, with help from nice compositions by German cinematographer Alwin H. Kόchler and an appealing techie score by the UK's Daniel Pemberton. Still, the show thoroughly belongs to Sorkin, who lets characters talk and talk and bicker and talk, eschewing action and even scenery changes as much as humanly possible. That design may sound like heaven for Sorkin's most devout fans, those who revere his dialogue like Gospel, continue to lament the cancellation of "The Newsroom" and remain angry that more people didn't see the brilliance in "Sports Night" and "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." But it does render the proceedings a tad stuffy and theatrical (two adjectives you could also attach to the Academy's reigning Best Picture winner, which this slightly recalls). It is a film that is easier to appreciate for its dialogue than to love for its relatively thinly-drawn characters and non-existent narrative.

After opening strong in four theaters, Steve Jobs expanded to nationwide release two weeks later to commercial disappointment. Its 7th place wide bow gave way to precipitous drops, which saw the film ending with just $17.8 million domestic, barely outpacing the buzzless Kutcher movie. The stench of the failure to engage the moviegoing public threw a quick wrench into the film's award season hopes. Almost instantly, Steve Jobs was downgraded from potential winner to fringe contender, status it clung to right through the morning of the Academy Award nominations, which earned it nods for Best Actor (Fassbender) and Best Supporting Actress (Winslet) but nothing else, not even Sorkin's Golden Globe-winning adapted screenplay.

Twelve days before the Oscar ceremony, Universal brings Steve Jobs to stores on DVD and in the Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack reviewed here.

Steve Jobs: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), 5.1 DTS (Spanish, French)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish)
Both: Dolby Surround 2.0 (Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish, French
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: February 16, 2016
Suggested Retail Price: $34.98
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50 & DVD-9)
Blue Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD ($29.98 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video


The three distinct acts of Steve Jobs are shot on different formats: 16mm film, 35mm film, and digital. That gives each a distinct look, which the Blu-ray's 2.40:1 transfer dutifully conveys. Though grain and sharpness vary based on the stretch, the picture is at all times clean and reflective of the desired appearance as seen in theaters. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack presents all that dialogue crisply and without issue, complementing it with that infrequent but impactful score.

Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin airs his thoughts in "Inside Jobs" as well as an audio commentary. Director Danny Boyle provides guidance to Kate Winslet and Michael Stuhlbarg in this behind-the-scenes look from "Inside Jobs."


Steve Jobs is joined by three bonus features on DVD and Blu-ray.

The one video extra
is "Inside Jobs: The Making of Steve Jobs" (44:11), an HD documentary presented in three nearly even parts. The first pays notice to the design (Aaron Sorkin claims he has an obligation to be subjective). The second focuses on the cast, their rehearsals, their daunting script memorization challenges, and their research into playing real people. The third and final part considers the decision to film at the real San Francisco locations and to shoot and score the three different acts in different ways reflecting their settings. With a mix of talking heads on white backdrops and behind-the-scenes footage from the early 2005 shoot, this substantial piece stands as the only making-of needed.

Beyond that comprehensive documentary lie two audio commentaries. The first lets director Danny Boyle fly solo. He relays screen-specific information throughout, detailing the chronological shoot in real locations and acknowledging certain experiences. Nothing he reveals regarding possible titles and filming conditions is particularly earth-shattering or interesting (his mention of deleted scenes that aren't included here might frustrate some), but his brogue is comforting and easy to listen.

The second commentary teams up screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and editor Elliot Graham. For obvious reasons, theirs is the livelier track. Sorkin confesses fights he lost (like the Arthur Clarke prologue), both lament little bits they tried to make work but couldn't, and the two reflect on the nature of the film and how their different work complemented one another. The track is both very proud and very grateful for the actors that brought the material to life. If you only have time for one commentary, this is your better bet, though it's not quite must-hear material.

The discs open with trailers for Legend, Secret in Their Eyes, Trumbo, Suffragette, The Danish Girl, Spotlight, and "Mr. Robot." None of these are accessible by menu and no Steve Jobs trailers are included at all.

The main menu attaches score to the simple profile shot of the title character that also functions as poster, cover, and slipcover art. That partly glossy slipcover tops a standard keepcase holding alongside the plainly-labeled black and silver discs a Digital HD insert doubling as an ad for Universal's Alfred Hitchcock Blu-rays.

The black turtlenecked, short-haired Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) we most remember emerges in the third and final act of "Steve Jobs."


Though a bit staged and stuffy, Steve Jobs is a showcase for sharp screenwriting and features some striking performances as well. Admirably shunning biopic convention, this three-act play never fully enchants but it does provide a compelling if slightly tedious portrait of a tech genius with gaping personality flaws.

Universal's combo pack upholds the film's stylized presentation and adds a substantial making-of documentary and two commentaries. Many collections will find a place for this fairly satisfying release of a fairly satisfying film.

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Related Reviews:
New to Disc: Bridge of Spies • Sicario • Truth • Black Mass • Straight Outta Compton • 99 Homes • Crimson Peak • Burnt • Our Brand Is Crisis
Written by Aaron Sorkin: The Newsroom: The Complete First Season • Moneyball | Directed by Danny Boyle: 127 Hours • Shallow Grave
Michael Fassbender: The Counselor • X-Men: First Class | Kate Winslet: A Little Chaos • Labor Day • Revolutionary Road • Titanic
Seth Rogen: The Interview • The Green Hornet | Michael Stuhlbarg: A Serious Man • Hugo | Katherine Waterston: Inherent Vice

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Reviewed February 15, 2016.

Text copyright 2016 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2015 Universal Pictures, Legendary Pictures, Decibel Films, and Cloud Eight Films, 2016 Universal Studios Home Entertainment.
Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.