"Ocean's Eleven" was one of my favorite films of 2001, if not my very favorite. The picture brought together an incredible ensemble cast that worked together brilliantly, and a plot that twisted, turned and locked into place with impressive precision. The cast seemed to be having fun, and the film was effortlessly entertaining.
That brings us to the story of "Ocean's Twelve". Instead of bringing back writer Ted Griffin, the producers instead took another screenplay (by George Nolfi, who penned the awful "Timeline") and molded it into a film that fit the "Ocean's" characters. The result is a film that doesn't work nearly as smoothly as the first picture. The picture lacks the romantic angle of the Roberts/Clooney relationship, which added a great deal to the first picture. There's also little amusing about the details this time around; none of the pleasure of seeing the gang figure out some incredible trick and barely manage to slide through without being caught. Griffin's dialogue sparkled, the performances were golden and the timing was right. Despite the fact that everyone knew ho.
This time around, things don't even start off well. The film opens with a plodding, rather obvious set of introductions to the characters. In the first film, Danny Ocean (Clooney) and his gang of thieves staged an enormous casino robbery, just escaping the wrath of casino owner Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia). Danny got the girl - Tess (Julia Roberts) - and the money.
As the second film opens, Benedict has tracked down each of the criminals and has given them a brief chance to pay him back. Or else...which seems odd, as Benedict still does not appear to have any proof and Ocean's gang didn't seem to care too much about his threats at the end of the first film. So, the group pulls together almost all of their remaining members and heads to foreign soil, due to the fact that they're too hot to easily pull off another crime on home turf. Problems occur: Rusty's (Brad Pitt) former flame, Isabel (Catherine Zeta-Jones), is a high-profile Europol officer that comes sniffing around at the first hint of a crime. There's also a French master thief (Vincent Cassel) that challenges Ocean to a criminal competition. Furthermore, the movie is arrogant enough to try to have one of its stars have to play themselves in the movie, which is such a groaner of a idea that it stops the movie cold. On the other hand, Topher Grace ("That 70's Show") once again contributes a very funny little cameo as himself.
The movie does have its share of elements that work, though. Matt Damon once again proves that he has the ability to do comedy playing Linus, who is constantly pestering the other members of the crew for a bigger role this time around. A scene where he can't make sense of gangster lingo being spoken at a restaurant is priceless. Clooney and Pitt, two actors also underrated when it comes to comedy, also are terrific together again as the leaders of the pack. David Holmes also once again contributes a magnificent score.
Unfortunately, there's the negatives: Zeta-Jones seems lost in a performance that's flat - she's not convincing as a Europol agent. She doesn't have much chemistry with Pitt, either, resulting in the idea of a former flame botching the latest job getting nearly ruined. Where the first film really offered everyone their moments, the second picture doesn't - Bernie Mac doesn't get much to do, for example. Roberts and Clooney also lack the superb verbal sparring that they had in a few scenes from the first movie. Finally, Vincent Cassel's role as the thief challenging Ocean's crew is completely underwritten, and that subplot is just not that interesting. Soderberg has also changed up the cinematography of the film, from a golden, often gorgeous and slick-looking Hollywood picture to a slightly harsh 70's feel. Finally, the film simply feels long - while the first picture was breezy and quick, this film feels longer than its 127 minutes.
"Ocean's Twelve" sounded like fun - another round with the actors who worked so well together in the first picture. However, the filmmakers haven't captured nearly the level of magic that the first film had.
VIDEO: "Ocean's Twelve" is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen (there's also a pan & scan edition.) The picture quality is, in some ways, an improvement over what I saw when I viewed the film theatrically. Sharpness and detail are generally excellent, as the picture seemed crisp and well-defined, with good small object detail.
Slight edge enhancement was present in a few scenes, but it wasn't much of a concern. No pixelation was spotted, and the print seemed crisp and clear, with no specks, marks or other faults. Colors looked natural and bright, with no smearing or other concerns. Colors actually looked a little bit richer and warmer than they did when I saw the film theatrically.
SOUND: "Ocean's Twelve" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film's soundtrack is fairly unambitious, with most of the audio rooted in the front speakers. The surrounds come in for some minor ambience and a little bit of reinforcement of the music, but that's about it. The DVD offers fine audio quality, with clear dialogue.
EXTRAS: The film's theatrical trailer. That's it, which is quite a surprise, given the size of the film.
Final Thoughts: "Ocean's Twelve" is a party without the payoff - everyone seems to be having fun in it zipping around gorgeous Euro locations, but the movie lacks the spark of the first film. Warner Brothers has provided a DVD with fine audio/video quality, but surprisingly little in the way of supplements. Rent it.