A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 41 – Ocean’s Twelve

Ocean’s Twelve – April 10th, 2010

***WARNING: Spoilers. While this movie is six years old, it is a heist movie and it has a lot of twists, so if you haven’t seen it and plan on watching and don’t want to know some of the reveals, don’t read. Okay. Warning over.***

Sigh. You know, after watching Ocean’s Eleven and loving it, I was all excited about the sequel and prepared to thoroughly enjoy it. And then I didn’t. It’s just got too many moments that make me cringe and not enough that make me grin. For example, while I know it’s crucial to the plot that everything go to hell for every single member of the original crew, and I know that it’s supposed to create dramatic tension and make me want to root for them. After all, what fun would it be to see a bunch of guys with everything go after something more? Except I already want to root for them. I already like them. I don’t enjoy seeing crappy things happen to characters I like. So the beginning of the movie, which I’m sure was meant to be a schadenfreude reintroduction to all the guys from the first movie, just makes me wince. Also wince-worthy is some comedy of embarrassment, but hey, that’s my hangup. This won’t be the last review I mention my discomfort with it in.

My other major issue with the movie is that it’s way too self aware in a not-so-cute way. It’s trying too hard. The guys talking about being annoyed about being referred to as “Ocean’s Eleven,” as if Danny owns them. The heist within a heist. The rival with an ego. Involving Tess and the whole “Doesn’t she look like Julia Roberts?” schtick. It’s just too much. The movie’s mired in its own conceit.

The heist is incredibly complicated. It’s as if the writers went “Hmm, the last one was brilliant because of how much it involved and how complicated it all was. Let’s double it. Or triple it! And it’ll be twice or three times as good!” That’s not how it works. I mean, they start out getting cornered by Benedict, who wants his money back and was tipped off by a rival thief who’s upset that Danny’s crew is being called “The best” when that’s what he considers himself. So then they have to pull jobs to make back what they’ve spent in the intervening years. So there are little heists. And meanwhile the rival is pulling the jobs ahead of them to prove how good he is. Except the big job is one they pulled before he pulled it before them. And it all turns out to be a set-up by a real master criminal who wants to meet his daughter who’s a special agent who tracks down master criminals and dated Rusty for a while. And I’ve massively simplified the whole deal by a ton. Oh my god, so much going on in this movie. Too much.

Now, I will say, in the movie’s defense, that the characters are very very in character when they’re introduced. Seeing where they all ended up post-heist is fun and things like Turk and Virgil’s intro just work really well character-wise. Actually, Turk and Virgil are fantastic through the movie. Their dialogue is genuinely funny. And there are some great individual scenes. The introduction of Eddie Izzard’s character, Roman, is great, and I look forward to his involvement in tomorrow’s movie. The Caldwell family reveal is fantastic. I love the acrobatics through the lasers so much that I tracked down the music that plays during the scene (it’s “Thé à la menthe” by Nikkfurie/La caution – I’ve seen it credited to both in different places – and apparently has lyrics too, but I’ve never heard them). I do love Catherine Zeta Jones’ character, Isabel. She’s a kickass lady and while for the majority of the movie her plot with Rusty is just a matter of support for the heist plot, I like it quite a lot. All that being said, it’s just not enough to make the movie as much fun to watch as the first was. Or the third will be tomorrow. It’s just too serious about the whole thing. It’s missing the light-hearted spirit, even if it does try incredibly hard to get laughs every chance it gets.

April 10, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment

Ocean’s 12

March 10, 2010

Ocean’s 12

The second Ocean’s movie is not as much fun as the first one. That could be my whole review, but I suppose that would be unfair. There’s a lot in this movie to like. Rusty gets a love interest in Catherine Zeta Jones’ character Isabel – a detective who has a past with Rusty and an almost preternatural instinct regarding the motivations and methods of thieves. The whole sub-plot with her and Rusty is fantastic right from the very first scene of the movie, and almost makes the movie worth watching. But much of the rest of the movie is confusing and… just not fun.

The plot is this: Terry Benedict has been tipped off as to the location and identity of every one of the crew who robbed him in the first movie. The fellow who tipped him off is a master thief with a chip on his shoulder who is using Benedict as leverage to force a sort of duel with Danny to establish which of them is the better thief. (Here the movie descends somewhat into Pink Panther territory, with the master thief being the Night Fox – who leaves a little onyx fox as his calling card after each job.)

From the moment Terry tracks down each of the crew things start to go downhill. Things go from bad to worse and then to even worse for the crew, and even though you know they’ll probably pull out somehow in the end it’s just not as much fun to watch as the thrilling heist in the first movie. There’s a fun payoff at the end and a couple twists, but it doesn’t feel worth all the misery that precedes it.

Of especial note is a very surreal scene where, in a page torn from the famous Schwarzenegger flop Last Action Hero, Julia Robert’s character Tess must impersonate Julia Roberts. It’s an awkward and strange scene that’s almost painful to watch. I do like the cameo of Bruce Willis though. One of three movies I can think of where he plays himself. (The other to being What’s Happening and Nancy Drew.) I gather he has a great sense of humor about himself. It made me want to watch Being John Malcovich or Cold Souls.

There are also some odd directorial choices as well. Such as the way they do not show one character’s face until the very end of the movie. It implies that the reveal at the end will have some impact of some sort, like you’re supposed to say “Oh, my God! It was HIM all along!” but the reveal does nothing of the kind. So I have to assume that for some reason Soderbergh thought the character should be faceless until the end for some kind of emotional closure for the characters in the movie. Like I said: it’s an odd choice.

Overall the actual heist in the movie (after you’ve figured out all the twists in it) has fewer plot holes than the one in the first movie, but it’s just not as satisfying or as much fun. Luckily now I have Ocean’s Thirteen to look forward to tomorrow, and that makes almost everything all better.

April 10, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , | Leave a comment