Tag Archives: Ashton Kutcher

Jobs (2013) Movie Retro Review by Stephen McLaughlin

JOBS

Director: Joshua Michael Stern
Writer: Matt Whiteley
Stars: Ashton Kutcher, Dermot Mulroney, Josh Gad, Matthew Modine, J.K. Simmons

Not to be confused with the 2015 Michael Fassbender film ‘Steve Jobs” which I will review in good time and I decided to review the one that came first. This movie is the story of Steve Jobs’ rise from from a college dropout into one of the most creative entrepreneurs of the 20th century.

It has to be said that making a biopic about Steve Jobs is a great idea and you wonder why it took so long for a movie on his life to be made. Opening at the 2001 launch of the “IPod” with Ashton Kutcher is the title role as an older Steve Jobs was a neat way of hooking the audience into the movie and it also reminded our current selves that announcing a device you could fit in your pocket could store over 1,000 songs was a pretty big deal over 16 years ago. In the room the audience gasp at the reality of such a device. Just like we did back then.

The Filmmakers had a tremendous opportunity to make an interesting character based and informative movie about Steve Jobs who created ‘Apple” but instead used him as the presence of Apple’s story instead. It may appear nitpicking but I felt the movie should have been called “Apple” instead, but from what I have read the company had no input in the making of this movie at all.

“Jobs” quickly takes us back to the early seventies to where it all began. Don’t get me wrong, the movie is interesting to a point and having watched (and reviewed) the documentary about IBM a few months back “Silicon Valley” it was nice to see things from another perspective in the era of home computing from the major players.

I’ll be honest, apart from mainstream media attention I have to admit I didn’t know too much about Steve Jobs other than his “Apple” life story. I was interested into seeing his personal life and how he became one of the most powerful men in the technology world. This movie doesn’t do this and although the cast of Ashton Kutcher (Steve Jobs), Josh Gad (Steve Wozniak) JK Simmons (Arthur Rock), Dermot Mulroney (Mike Markkula) and Matthew Modine as John Sculley is very steady. The movie is more a time line of his life (to an extent) and the company.

This is where the problem lies with “Jobs” it isn’t sure what it is meant to be projecting as Jobs personal life is portrayed in bullet points and only skims the surface of the man and his personal problems. It also displays a lack of pace and the fluidity appears start / stop at times. I learned that he had a daughter Lisa that he denied for a very long time and it’s not until later on in the movie it appears he had a change of heart and a teenage Lisa is portrayed and in his life at this point. There was no emotional storytelling in relation to this or to others which I felt was a missed opportunity.

Away from these issues I learned more about the business side of Apple and Jobs relationship with his board and colleagues. Kutcher portrays him as best as he could and picks up some of the mans traits and mannerisms which I should give him credit for. Kutcher in my opinion isn’t the greatest actor in the word but his scenes with Josh Gad as Steve Wozniak were fun and lightened the story with humour between them. Josh Gad to me was the best thing in the movie and although I didn’t know much about Wozniak other than what most folk know about him through various interviews, this movie gave you an insight into what it was like to be Steve Jobs’ colleague, company partner and friend.

With a supporting cast of Mulroney, Simmons and Modine this is another saving grace to the film and particularly Mulroney’s portrayal of Mike Markkula who is the long suffering business partner of Jobs who endured some awkward moments throughout the film protecting Jobs in particular during the boardroom scenes that both Simmons and Modine excelled in.

Another positive throughout the movie is the soundtrack. From Cat Stevens’ “Peace Train” and Bob Dylan’s “Boots of Spanish Leather” to the brilliant “Life’s Been Good” by Joe Walsh which add to the era and fit well into the story.

In summary, if you wish to learn more about Steve Jobs I wouldn’t recommend getting that from this movie. That’s not to say it’s a bad film. “Jobs” is interesting enough to keep you entertained for a couple of hours and learn a few things about how “Apple” began in a garage and what it became today which is quite astonishing. Just don’t look for a deep thought provoking insight into one of the most brilliant minds of a generation.

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The Butterfly Effect (2004) Movie Retro Review by Stephen McLaughlin

BUTTERLFY EFFECT

Directors: Eric Bress, J. Mackye Gruber
Writers: J. Mackye Gruber, Eric Bress
Stars: Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Melora Walters

I seem to be having a run of “Time Travel” themed movie reviews of late. Is it because I enjoy the subject? Yes. Is it because I am interested to see different movies use different ways on how the handle time travel? Yes again. In 2004’s The Butterfly Effect filmmakers and also the writers Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber used memory blackouts and journals to end pockets of time and moment to alter the course of history.

Although I’m not the biggest Ashton Kutcher fan out there I felt the actor did a pretty good job playing the lead character Evan Treborn and with a great supporting cast there could be some quality and integrity about this latest time travel film.

Evan Treborn is a troubled young man who suffered blackouts as a child. His father is locked up in an institution for suffering similar effects and this appears to be troubling Evan’s Mother Andrea played by Melora Walters who is clearly concerned that her boy is following in his footsteps. Evan discovers a way to travel back into the body of his past self, but his time travelling exploits start a chain reaction of negative results on his present self (Kutcher). As he uses his powers to try to fix his past and present, the effect escalates, creating alternate realities, many of which are worse than the past that he is trying to change.

This is one of the elements of this movie I enjoyed and to be honest was very impressed with the casting as we jump into certain time periods in Evan’s life with his friends Kayleigh, Tommy and Lenny. Each time period for these characters are perfect in the way the actors portray them and in looks also you are convinced that they must of some how filmed this movie over a 15 year period. I’m not kidding, are all versions of these characters related?

Anyway, it’s during these periods that Evan suffers blackouts at crucial times when we the audience members also have to recollection of what just happened until the present day Evan (Kutcher) reads the journals to time travel back to fill these blanks in and hopefully changed things for the better. Young Evan at 7 and 13 are portrayed by Logan Lerman and John Patrick Amedori respectively and are easily passable “Young Ashton Kutcher’s”

We also get to know the characters a lot better this way. Amy Smart portrays the present Kayleigh, his childhood friend and later his sweetheart, who by my reckoning has the most challenging role in the movie every time Evan alters the past we see a different Kayleigh when he returns to present day and Smart delivers in every scene. Also credit has to go to 7 and 13 year old Kayleigh’s Sarah Widdows and Irene Gorovaia who portray the young versions of Amy Smart’s character really well, especially in some very dark scenes involving Eric Stoltz.

Tommy is Kayleigh’s younger brother and portrayed by Cameron Bright as the 7 year old version and Jesse James as a 13 year old Tommy. It’s mostly these two time periods we see Tommy at his most troubled and quite sadistic periods in his life. Both Bright and James do great jobs at portraying an angry young man who suffers through his abusive father played by Eric Stoltz. The actor William Lee Scott portrays the present day version of Tommy but to be honest doesn’t have enough screen time compared to the other two actors.

Lenny is probably the one out of the four lead characters whose casting is probably a slight mixed bag. Although Jake Kaese and Kevin G Schmidt play Lenny as a young boy the character in the earlier periods really doesn’t have much to do other than act mostly troubled by Tommy’s actions. It’s present day Lenny that I was so glad to see Elden Henson portray the groups friend. Henson is a fine actor and is shining in Marvel’s Dare Devil currently as Foggy Nelson and in “The Butterfly Effect” performs great in all versions of Lenny and shows a range of emotions similar to Smart’s character.

Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber I felt did a good job in directing such a complex story in a film where the timeline is constantly changing it would be easy to get lost in the complexity of the movie but thankfully the direction allows the audience to digest what is happening on the screen with some simply but effective camera shakes and blurred vision to explain the time shifts when the lead character changes something in the past. Brews and Gruber are clearly visual guys and although some of those effects are quite literal I felt it was a nice touch to visually see events being erased as the timeline changed.

“The Butterfly Effect” is an incredibly fast-paced action that although deals with child abuse, murder, sadism and there are some pretty traumatic events in a short period of time comes off well and gets a good result. The story really embraced myself and from an emotional point of view really does hit home with the end result in what Evan has to do to make everyone’s lives better.

I must point out that this review is actually based on both guts of the film. There is the tradition theatrical cut and the directors cut. Having viewed both it really is only the endings that are of any significant change but both involve Evan having to make that ultimate choice and without spoiling the ending of either. One is a little more Hollywood style ending with a terrific Oasis track playing over the top of the montage (Stop Crying Your Heart Out) and the other is possibly one of the saddest endings I’ve ever witnessed in movie history. But overall this movie is still enjoyable to go back to after 13 years and I still recommend to anyone who hasn’t watched it to do so.