Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ocean's Twelve (2004)

Ocean's: Act Two

- Ocean's Twelve (2004) has a reputation as the weakest of Steven Soderbergh's "Ocean's" Trilogy – but I disagree. Amidst a massive majority that claims otherwise, I retain the opinion that the first Ocean's film is great, this second film is good, and the third film is good but on the mediocre side.

While not matching the previous "Ocean's" film step for step in terms of quality, Ocean's Twelve feels like an original next step in a logical direction. The last thing that I would have wanted to see is a second "Ocean's" film that is cut from the same cloth as the first film – and Ocean's Twelve delivers a novel next step for the Ocean crew in a stylish and entertaining fashion....

Having our crooked crew face the consequences of the crime committed in the previous film was a very satisfying thematic development. We all know going into an "Ocean's" film that we are going to have fun watching the Eleven have fun ripping people off, but Ocean's Twelve delivers more in the way of interest and depth than expected through the way that the characters are faced with tangible and daunting obstacles.

Also, giving more dimension and importance to Brad Pitt's Rusty character through the newly introduced Isabel character (played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, who is a very nice addition to the cast). This was also nice to see in the "Ocean's" sequel, mainly because Rusty is my favorite character in the series.

Moreover, placing the Eleven far away from a casino and into the corrupt cobblestone streets of Amsterdam was very refreshing. I had a great time watching Danny, Rusty, & co. high-stepping it in Vegas – but it is nice to see the series broaden itself by taking the characters someplace new. The series course correction from Las Vegas to underworld Europe gives the film a different kind of edge that separates it from the other two "Ocean's" films and is refreshing to see in general.

Sadly, Ocean's Twelve does include some elements that taste a bit bitter…. including a pointless, tacked-on ending for the Isabel character; a few too many sci-fi elements; a slower pace than the first "Ocean's" film; and the really horrible idea that as part of the film's caper Julia Roberts' character Bess should go undercover as Julia Roberts (no joke, unfortunately). Ocean's Twelve is not as good as Ocean's Eleven, clearly.

Acknowledging the film's imperfections and reputation, I would argue that Ocean's Twelve triumphs as quality entertainment. On top of the fresh new paths that the film takes, Steven Soderbergh paints the each frame of the film wonderfully. One of the reasons that Ocean's Eleven is such a great film is Soderbergh's excellent eye for visuals and Ocean's Twelve succeeds in a similar manner. Also, the entire Clooney/Pitt-lead cast, again, perform at a top level, creating wonderful characters that drive the film and contribute considerably to the risibility and enjoyment factor of the entire film.

Overall, Ocean's Twelve does what all good sequels should: have something unique for the characters to do and have somewhere unique for those characters to go. No, Ocean's Twelve is not as good as Ocean's Eleven, but it features plenty of admirable and entertaining aspects that add up to a quality crime film and an enjoyable "Ocean's" sequel as far as I am concerned.

CBC Rating: 8/10

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