That anticipated Alex Gibney documentary about Apple’s iconic co-founder Steve Jobs is out today, and let’s just say the reviews are not as overwhelmingly positive as one might think.
Right now, The Man in the Machine is rated 76 percent fresh on rottentomatoes.com, with 67 percent of audience members saying they liked it.
We looked at the trailer a few months back, and it was intense. So intense, perhaps, that a full-length feature of Jobs’ world becomes tiresome. A common criticism was that Gibney raises a lot of questions that he fails to answer.
A snippet of film critic reviews so far, per Rotten Tomatoes:
“Mr. Gibney, a prolific documentarian, not only charts Mr. Jobs’s extraordinary record of marketing and innovation, but also presents a merciless anatomy of a complicated public character.” — New York Times
“The movie feels like an info dump, and since so much of that information is intended to bolster an argument, ‘The Man In The Machine’s’ ‘and here’s another thing’ shapelessness becomes frustrating.” — The Onion’s AV Club
“Sometimes ‘Man in the Machine’ feels like it needs a balancing voice. But it’s nonetheless a fascinating film, as Gibney’s always are.” — Seattle Times
“Jobs’ extraordinary achievements are given their due, but the film makes it abundantly clear that he could also be a hardhearted and self-centered S.O.B.” — San Francisco Chronicle
Perhaps my favorite, via the Stranger: “And what does he [Gibney] have to say about this much-worshipped visionary, whose death was a global event? That he was basically an asshole.”
Using a toned-down approach, NPR calls it an “unflattering” profile at times, but points out that it manages to capture Jobs’ uncanny ability to basically determine what people want before they even want it.
It also highlights his “ruthless, deceitful and cruel” side, including talking to one engineer who says he lost his wife and children due to the workload.
Listen to NPR’s full review below.
The movie is out today and playing at the Northwest Film Forum and Sundance Cinemas in Seattle. Or, you can take the lazy way out, and just watch it on iTunes. Jobs would have wanted you to.