Inside Pulse DVD Review – Ocean's Twelve


(Credit: www.dvdsoon.com)

Director:

Steven Soderbergh

Cast:

George Clooney……….Danny Ocean
Brad Pitt……….Rusty Ryan
Catherine Zeta-Jones……….Isabel Lahiri
Julia Roberts……….Tess Ocean
Matt Damon……….Linus
Andy Garcia………Terry Benedict
Bernie Mac………..Frank Catton
Elliot Gould……….Reuben
Scott Caan……….Turk Malloy
Casey Affleck……….Virgil Malloy
Don Cheadle……….Basher
Carl Reiner……….Saul
Vincent Cassel……….Francois
Eddie Jemison………..Livingston Dell
Shaobo Qin……….Yen

Warner Bros. Pictures presents Ocean’s Twelve. Written by George Clayton Johnson, Jack Golden Russell and George Nolfi. Produced by Jerry Weintraub. Running time: 125 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for language).

The movie:

Originality in Hollyweird is dead. There, I said it. TV shows become movies. Old movies get remade into new ones. It’s a vicious cycle. Then why must Hollywood continue to churn out this garbage? For every The Fugitive – an Oscar contender – there is a Charlie’s Angels.

When Ocean’s Eleven made its way into theaters in the fall of 2001, I had no prior knowledge that it was a remake. So I went into a darkened theater with some friends and we ended up having a fun time. Maybe it was the heist or the cool ambiance of the Las Vegas nightlife that made me enjoy it. It definitely wasn’t the directing. Steven Soderbergh fresh off his Academy Award-winning Traffic decided this would be his next project. Why? Was he hard up for money? Did he need a hit so he and George Clooney would have some startup cash for their production company? Could be.

My eyebrows made a quizzical look when it was announced that a sequel was in the works. The first one was okay. If it ended on the fountain shot with Danny Ocean’s crew saying their goodbyes, the movie would have been better. But they had to have that last scene at the prison; leaving the door open for a sequel.

The line-up has all of the usual suspects back on board. This time Catherine Zeta-Jones joins the cast. For a second there I was a little worried, biting my nails to the quick. It’s about time Soderbergh realized that he needed a beautiful movie idol in this film. Honestly, if any more A-list stars and starlets were attached to this project I would start singing the song “You’re So Vain”.

Wait! Not everyone is here. Where’s Ted Griffin? You know, the screenwriter for the first George Clooney heist installment. He’s not here. Warner Bros. had the smart idea of dusting off an old script, changing some of the characters and calling it Ocean’s Twelve. Oh, that’s brilliant. Let’s see where this goes.

Just when you thought it was safe to keep your valuables in a safe deposit box, the grifters are at it again. Like a washed up boxer who can’t stay away from the ring, the thieves have to go back to work and do one more job. Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), owner of the Bellagio hotel and casino in Vegas, never forgets what Danny Ocean (Clooney) and his crew did. He has to live with it everyday. They absconded with close to $200 million – roughly $19 million apiece. The casino’s insurance company eased the Bellagio’s monetary concerns, of course, but Benedict is out for revenge. His rage isn’t carried out with haste, though. He is kind enough to visit each and every grifter.

Benedict first visits Tess (Julia Roberts). She manages to escape the verbal confrontation with her former employer. Let me get this straight, Danny and Tess avoid the conflict but they don’t give the other members a head’s up that Benedict is on the warpath? Don’t worry, it’s just the director being lazy. By having Benedict meet the other scam artists, it saves Soderbergh the trouble of establishing the characters. He did a similar montage in the previous film, having the characters showcase their talents. In the sequel, it is played out as narcissism.

Without going into too much detail, Danny Ocean and his crew are on a timetable. They have two weeks to pay Benedict back the money they stole with interest. Coming up with the ultimate heist is hard and there are some pitfalls along the way. There is also a rival thief, the Night Fox, who is competing against them. Night Fox is the ultimate cat burglar. By reading his profile it is a safe guarantee that he has more skills than all of Ocean’s eleven combined.

In essence, the first Ocean film was a send-up to old caper films. The movie was a success because it took the caper formula and gave it a new-age spin. Ted Griffin’s script deserves kudos. The dialogue seemed fresh, the lead characters suave. (Griffin would follow up with Matchstick Men, a real gem of the con artist genre.) Producer Jerry Weintraub made the mistake of not getting Griffin for this project or hiring a new director.

All Soderbergh has to work with in this sequel is the charisma of his actors. The smiles of Clooney, Roberts, Brad Pitt, and Jones can only get you so far. The rest of the ensemble crew is downgraded. The Mormon twins (played by Scott Caan and Casey Affleck), who were the workhorses doing multiple cons in Bellagio heist, are wasted. If it weren’t for the jail scene, it’s easy to forget they were even in the film.

This caper movie is heavy on the star power and stupid in-jokes, less on the actual caper. Ocean’s Twelve is a sorry excuse for a sequel. Money spent on shooting in exotic locales around the world was a waste. The brain trust behind this film should have scrapped the locations all together and used the cash for something more important. Like an actual script, perhaps.

Score: 4/10

THE DVD

VIDEO: How does it look?

Nice video transfer for this Warner Bros. release. It could be better, however. The video does suffer a bit from edge enhancement, but it is very minimal. The exotic locales are a nice touch (albeit unnecessary). They are vibrant and have a sepia quality to them. Remembering back to my theater viewing experience, The DVD transfer is a big improvement. The film has its theatrical widescreen presentation (2.35:1) and it is enhanced for 16 x 9 televisions.

Score: 8/10

AUDIO: How does it sound?

There are two English soundtracks (Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Surround) to choose from. Best bet is to go for the 5.1. For some reason the front speakers pump out the most audio. The surround speakers are used primarily for natural sound. One of the few benefits of watching Ocean’s Twelve is underutilized. Sad to say but the David Holmes energetic soundtrack gets the shaft. His music is perfect for surround sound. Too bad consumers will have to wait for the HD-DVD version to get the full experience.

Score: 7.5/10

SPECIAL FEATURES: Enjoy the theatrical trailer.

That’s right. Besides the forced “Look for it on DVD” promos for The Aviator, The Phantom of the Opera, and Million Dollar Baby, the only other extra is the theatrical trailer.

WHAT?! The other Ocean caper had two feature-length audio commentaries, three theatrical trailers, and two short fluff documentaries. Come on, Warner Bros., let’s see the all star cast go to Monte Carlo and blow their salaries at the crap tables; or have “The Rounder” Matt Damon play cards against Ben “Please forgive me for Gigli” Affleck. A buck gets ten that Warner Bros. will release a swanky version of Ocean’s Eleven and Twelve on HD-DVD with all sorts of bells and whistles.

Score: 1/10