This weekend gives us the second biopic about Steve Jobs in a year. It goes up against the sixth iteration of the Paranormal Activity franchise. One of these movies was screened for critics, one was not. Take a guess which movie wasn’t.
To answer your question, yes, we apparently needed another movie about Steve Jobs. Ashton Kutcher, while looking a lot like Steve Jobs, didn’t quite have the script to carry the movie. Enter Aaron Sorkin, writer of The West Wing, The Social Network and The Newsroom. His script along with the direction of Danny Boyle (127 Hours, Slumdog Millionaire) should excite most movie buffs.
Michael Fassbender takes on the role of the famous innovator this time around. His depiction shows Jobs dealing with his associates at some of the most critical moments of his life.
To be more specific, the film’s story is told in three acts. It starts off in 1984 after Apple debuts their infamous Superbowl commercial and are riding a wave of good advertising. Jobs was preparing to unveil the Macintosh at a press conference when everyone starts drama around him. That’s not to say he isn’t the primary cause of most of it.
The following two acts show the half hours leading up to two more press conferences later in his life. The way the film plays out is Sorkin on steroids. He’s known for witty, snappy conversations in hallways and this movie has them in spades. There’s no doubt that Sorkin is extremely talented. His dialogue manages to create tension that few other screenwriters could only dream of. Meanwhile, he knows his talent, which is why he takes lines of dialogue from project to project. Even if he is guilty of self-hackery, he nails the public perception of Steve Jobs. This is a guy who was impossible to deal with, but you can’t help but admire him for his unflappable drive to be the best.
When this movie was first announced, both Christian Bale and David Fincher were attached. Bale would have killed the role in both looks and acting. Fassbender, on the other hand, is a masterclass actor and makes you believe that, despite his appearance, he is Steve Jobs. He speaks with a quiet inflection is his voice that always comes from a place of impatience.
The scope of this film is manipulative. These press conferences are intentionally stressful moments in Jobs’ life and by focusing on them, we are brought right into the mayhem. But it works.
Steve Jobs doesn’t glorify the actual person. It shows an almost ugly depiction of a genius at work, who is sincerely unbearable. If you like the writing of Sorkin, this will be right up your alley. It’s a smart movie that you may only need to see once, but it’s definitely worth watching. B+
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension
Paranormal Activity had something special to begin with. It capitalized on the found footage genre and told the simple story of a home haunting that happened to be more sinister than originally believed. The movie did so well, that sequels were inevitable. And in my opinion, PA 2 and 3 aren’t all that bad. They follow the simple formula of someone being obsessed with videotaping everything near the same time that things start going bump in the night.
I think the steam was lost pretty early, but I lost my patience when they started upping their technology game by using an Xbox Kinect camera to detect the activity.
Now, in the reported finale to the franchise, there is a new guy who just can’t help but record everything. It’s the holidays and his brother has come to visit the family. As they’re unpacking Christmas decorations, they find an old camcorder and a stack of conveniently-placed home movies, starring sisters, Kristi and Katie. Once they start using the camcorder, the dad starts seeing strange shapes appear through the lens. Also, a strange shape starts following his young daughter.
The crux of this movie is the special camera that can somehow pick up any sign of ectoplasm or mysterious shades. The demon ‘Toby’ has been mentioned in five movies so far, and The Ghost Dimension shows him several times. In this way, this flick is more of a straight-up ghost story than an unseen entity flick. It’s as if the writers heard everyone’s complaints that nothing happens until the end and decided to show Toby as much as possible.
It still doesn’t work.
Also, for a movie that is only 84 minutes, it feels to be at least two hours.
This series has opened so many questions for me. The first is, why do I even care to watch these movies? But really, I feel “Lost” levels of confusion. Why did the demon need Katie if she was just going to be a witch? Where did Kristi’s step-daughter go? Why did Hunter need to terrorize a family? Is this the most recorded family next to the Kardashians? Why can’t the Kardashians be haunted?
The Ghost Dimension is fun for the final five minutes and has a few cool visuals that are obviously meant for the 3D crowd. Otherwise, it resolves nothing from the movies that led up to this point. If you are a completist, then watch it. Just know that you’re getting the same quality as PA 4. These documentarians are some of the dumbest horror victims in recent memory and have apparently never seen a scary movie. I truly hope they stop beating the dead horse and this is it for Paranormal Activity. D+