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Sundance 2013: jOBS reaction

It’s the closing film of Sundance 2013 and one of the most anticipated. But the question is, is jOBS a good ‘un?

Although not the big-screen spinning pizza wheel of death some early reports suggested, this biopic of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs could do with a few upgrades.

If you’re expecting another Social Network , prepare for disappointment. Right off the bat it’s clear we’re in for something less cutting and more cloying than the Facebook movie, with an opener that sees the middle-aged Jobs (Ashton Kutcher) in 2001 presenting a new gizmo called the iPod to rapt employees.

Cue surging strings and cheesy reaction shots - both of which will recur again and again as the movie rewinds to the mid-'70s to reveal how Jobs set out to change the world via blocky personal computers.

To their credit, the filmmakers don’t shy from showing us their hero’s darker side: friends, colleagues and pregnant girlfriends all suffer off-hand treatment as Steve strives for greatness.

Yet this is at heart a reverential portrait, executed in a no-frills style that’s user-friendly on the one hand (breezy pace, not too much techy jargon), overly functional on the other (on-the-nose dialogue like “I can’t work for anyone else. I need to be independent!”; “You’re either with me or against me”;“Apple… like the fruit?”)

As for Kutcher, he’s clearly done his homework: imitating Jobs’ hand gestures and loping gait with Day-Lewis-like dedication, he truly walks the walk. But when it comes to talking the talk, he doesn’t quite bring the dramatic chops required.

It’s one thing for the film to tell us what a brilliant, innovative, risk-taking visionary Jobs was - but only now and then does Kutcher really show us.