Published on April 10th, 2012 | by Charlie Truong1
Review: The Pirates of Silicon Valley (3 Stars)
With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enemies?
The Pirates of Silicon Valley stars Noah Wyle and Anthony Michael Hall as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates respectively. Both do an outstanding job in portraying the genius, drive, and fallacies of the two pioneers in the tech industry.
The movie chronicles the rise of Apple and Microsoft and their eventual clash as the two vie to usher in the personal computing age. Since the movie was released in 1999, the movie does not touch on the iphone or even ipod years at Apple. Rather, it ends with the surprising partnership between the two tech behemoths in 1997.
I will admit I am not well versed in the history, so I cannot vouch for the film’s accuracy. Regardless I found the story in the film compelling with the two men not being portrayed as necessarily the smartest tech guys but the most astute business men. Both Jobs and Gates seized the day as key opportunities presented themselves. Jobs essentially swindled Xerox out of the technology behind graphical user interfaces and Gates practically stole DOS for a mere fifty grand.
While I enjoyed the performances, I wish the film delved deeper into what made each man tick. The movie starts out with both men already aspiring to lead the personal computing crusade. However, it would have made for a better movie had we understood why each were so driven to do what they did. Nowadays, it is expected for everyone to have a computer. Back then though, what was their inspiration to defy convention and aim to put a computer in every home? What was the moment that the “apple” hit them on the head?
Another flaw in the film is that it simply ends with no real climax. All of a sudden we get some text on the screen saying Jobs was kicked out of Apple. Then we jump ahead a few years, and he’s reconciled with Bill Gates and agreed to a partnership. The film should have shown more of how the two came to this new agreement. How did they get past their differences?
The upcoming Steve Jobs movie would do well to differentiate itself from this previous film by providing a more personal look at his life. The Pirates of Silicon Valley was a good film but it felt more like a Wikipedia entry rather than a thorough retrospective on the forefathers of personal computing.