R Dir: Alex Gibney | Magnolia | 2h 8min
Plot: What’s it about?
There will likely be no one like Steve Jobs in my lifetime. Men like him aren’t exactly a dime a dozen. I won’t paddle on about the impact he had on all of our daily lives and as I said in my Steve Jobs review, he wasn’t the person who invented the iPod, iPhone or even the Mac. He was, however, someone who knew what people wanted and had a gift to make them desire the things he had to sell. It might be argued that without him, we might not have some of the things we use today. Last summer, on a long flight from Washington D.C. to Amsterdam, I had some obvious time to kill. The plane had hundreds of television specials and movies to choose from, so one of the ones I selected was an hour long feature on Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. These men were like the Magic Johnson and Larry Bird of their time and each contributed to our society and culture like few others have (or will). Each a passionate and driven person, both had huge egos and it pushed them and their products to the masses. I’m sure that Bill Gates will have his share of documentaries and movies when his time comes, but with Jobs’ passing in 2011, the time is ripe for a little reflection.
If you can put aside the two feature-length films featuring Steve Jobs: Jobs and Steve Jobs, we get down to the basics with Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine. This is a two hour look at the mogul that’s composed of personal interviews, a montage of clips and personal accounts by his friends and family. This isn’t made to praise Steve Jobs, but rather gives an “unflinching look at the life and aftermath of the bold, brilliant and at times ruthless iconoclast…” Yes, those that remember Jobs in his later years might look at him as a helpless old man who wore jeans and a black turtleneck, but make no mistake – he knew what he wanted and wouldn’t stop at anything until he got it. Produced by CNN, this aired around the same time the movie was debuting in theaters. Fans of Apple products or entrepreneurs in general might be intrigued by this and for those who like to take a walk down memory lane and see how far technology has come over the last few decades might enjoy it as well.
Video: How’s it look?
The majority of the film is composed of archived shots and features from television interviews and, as such, we can’t really get an accurate read on how they look. Some are downright awful and are barely VHS quality, but when going back 30+ years to dig up a news clip, I have to imagine that the options are somewhat limited. There are some new segments that have been filmed for this documentary and they look as expected – excellent. But, as mentioned, the lion’s share of the feature is composed of previously-shot scenes so just know that’s what to expect. There’s not a lot else to say here, if you set your standards low and know what to expect – you won’t be disappointed.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Likewise, the included DTS HD Master Audio track isn’t anything to write home about. The majority of the track is composed of dialogue and with varying degrees of quality. The front surround speakers are used a few times and I caught the rear channels spitting out a few “80’s-esque” chimes here and there as well. It’s not a bad-sounding track, but some of the audio is a bit muddled which depends on the particular clip. The overall narration is crisp and clean, as expected.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Interview with the Director Alex Gibney – A fairly candid chat with the Academy Award winning Director (Taxi to the Dark Side) and his undertaking of this feature. It’s interesting and clearly shows his passion for the project.
- Deleted Scenes – Seeing as the majority of the film is a montage of scenes from the past, it’s a bit odd to include some deleted ones. But they’re here if you need them.
- Theatrical Trailer
The Bottom Line
This isn’t the “Hollywood” version that we saw in Steve Jobs. Rather it shows us the real side of the man: passionate, driven and not afraid to step on friends and enemies along the way. That said, it doesn’t paint an unflattering picture of the tech icon, but shows us the more “real” side of Jobs. The disc isn’t exactly reference-quality when it comes to the technical aspects and it’s a bit lacking on supplements, so only true fans might want to pick this one up.