Steve Jobs is an ambitious film, and I admire its ambition. It has a very unique storytelling mechanism, ironically simplified to dissect the intellect and personality of a very complicated man. On some levels, it succeeds brilliantly. But on others, it falls short.
Writer Aaron Sorkin has repeatedly declared that this film is not a photograph, but a painting – with things embellished, diminished and condensed to convey the central plot and themes. However the title Steve Jobs conveys its own set of basic expectations. Though beautiful in parts, the painting ends up incomplete at best, with areas left sketched out but unfilled.
With its unique three-episode structure, this film is more about its themes than a central plot-line. Symbolism is heaped on gradually, having the audience continuously recall ideas placed strategically throughout the narrative. The “painting” is of Jobs as a man with the desire to control, a desire we all share. This need for control, according to the film, stemmed from the lack of it at the beginning of his life, as well as the complicated relationships with the people around him.
Brad Bird’s The Iron Giant first hit theaters in 1999. Though it was a critical darling, it was considered a box office failure that was one of the films that “proved” that hand-drawn animation was not viable in a marketplace slowly becoming dominated by the computer.
In the ensuing years, the film has gained quite the fan base and is considered a monumental achievement in animation. It’s amazing what a few years and some perspective can do.
The Iron Giant is not only one of my favorite animated films of all time, but one of my favorite films, period. It is wonderful in every conceivable way. What director Brad Bird did in his feature film debut was prove what he has been saying since the film opened 16 years ago – that animation is a medium of storytelling, not a genre.
The story the film tells could have been told in live action, but the animation gives it a certain something that live action couldn’t. It is a great lesson in storytelling, character development, layout, and so much more.
This past week, The Iron Giant was rereleased into theaters as a Signature Edition – remastered in high definition with the addition of two new scenes. And while some special editions tend to hurt the film overall, these scenes offer new insight into this wonderful story.
At the heart of this very simple story is a rich thematic message that is worth telling, and is the source of the film’s “giant” heart, if you’ll excuse the pun. The film has a lot to say about our own nature, and in the end we realize that we have more in common with that giant, metal man than we think.
Captive is a good movie. Not great, but good. While not groundbreaking cinematically, it is a step in the right direction for movies with a faith-based message. And for that, its importance cannot be stated enough.
Critics have savaged this movie as being nothing but a feature-length advertisement for Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose-Driven Life. While more cynical minds may look at it that way, the book is not the point of the movie.
What makes Captive different from some of the more mainstream “Christian” films from, say, the Kendrick Brothers (the makers of Fireproof, War Room, Courageous and the like) is that it’s messy, subtle and ambiguous. It’s an extraordinary story that was made to be a shining example of what God can do with even the most broken of souls.