Good or bad Jobs? Mixed reviews for Ashton Kutcher as Apple co-founder Steve Jobs


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The Independent Culture

The Steve Jobs biopic Jobs, starring Ashton Kutcher as the Apple co-founder, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this week.

It is the first of two films about the tech guru who died a year ago aged 56. The reviews have been fairly mixed.

The Guardian awarded it two stars and described it as "far from the bomb some would have envisaged, but neither is it the character illumination one would wish for," but found that "the essence of Jobs the creator, the insanely driven cultural game-changer, is intact, in line with his public and professional persona".

The Daily Telegraph is even less forgiving, awarding it a meagre one star lambasting Matthew Whiteley's "episodic, superficial script" for making "an almighty mess" of an otherwise heroic story. Sebastian Doggart damningly continues: "Where the film completely falls down is in director Joshua Michael Stern’s disastrous decision to cast Ashton Kutcher in the central role. 'I knew I was throwing myself into a gauntlet of criticism,' Kutcher said at the premiere, 'and this became the most terrifying thing I have done in my life.' His fears have been realised."

The Hollywood Reporter, however, commended Kutcher's performance - although it described the film as a "passably entertaining" two-hour commercial for Apple. Reviewer Justin Lowe writes: "Kutcher has an advantage in the role with his passing resemblance to Jobs, but he also faithfully re-creates some of his character's physical mannerisms for additional dimensionality. He manages a fair imitation of Jobs’ speaking style as well, particularly when delivering a number of monologues, usually while haranguing his employees or board of directors."

Variety critic Justin Chang remarked on Kutcher's "risky casting" but concluded it was a "carefully judged performance" which went beyond the actor's more-than-passing resemblance to the iconic executive, but that "the illusion never really seizes hold". He says that ultimately the film "is a prosaic but not unaffecting tribute to the virtues of defiance, nonconformity, artistry, beauty, craftsmanship, imagination and innovation, qualities it only intermittently reflects as a piece of filmmaking."

Indiewire concurs that the film feels like an exceptionally drawn-out Apple commercial with a "lack of irony that borders on the creepy". It calls the realisation of the unsophisticated, linear storyline "stylish" but criticises the pacing of Whiteley's "by-the-numbers screenplay which tracks Jobs from his slacker days as a college dropout to the launching of Apple computers in his parents' garage and eventual transformation into billionaire CEO". It calls the film's treatment of its subject "problematic" for its inconsistency and says "it's hard to stay invested in this light overview of Apple's history when the screenplay fails to make the human element count".