Sunday, June 10, 2007

Ocean's Thirteen Review (minor spoilers)

Ocean's 13 is a very good movie, but not a great movie -- it is the weakest of the three films, but not by much. It has some excellent sequences and scenes, but some of the pop and magic from 11 and 12 are missing, leaving you with the feeling that the whole thing is a little phoned in. Phoned in by geniuses, and so still pretty damn good, but phoned in nonetheless.

There is a sub-plot about a revolution at a Mexican factory that makes dice, infiltrated by one of our gang to rig the dice, that is quite fun. Ruben has a nice arc in which he rediscovers his old self -- with giant glasses and a ridiculous tux. Al Pachino is fun, and Elen Barken is an interesting addition; a single economical scene of her firing an employee over weight is all that is needed to establish her as someone who needs to be punished. There is a brilliant bit with Oprah that makes the whole film for me. The CGI building is a marvel, and a scene in which we quickly see shots of the inside of the building goes by too fast to take in, but the rooms are stunning. The overall plan to ruin Pachino by letting all the patrons win is a nice differentiation from the earlier two films. David Holmes's score is great, as it was for the first two films -- the score is a good percentage about what makes these films work, what really sells all the ridiculousness.

But some important aspects of 11 and 12 are missing. Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta-Jones, for one thing. The cameos for another: earlier films had Topher Grace (easily the best scene in 12, and a great moment in 11), Bruce Willis, and Eddie Izzard. Here Izzard is promoted to a bigger role; he was only ever funny because he was playing himself. In this film he has more lines -- and this is completely absurd -- than Pitt does, most of them early on, when the audience needs to be sucked in, not thrown back on themselves; the fact that Izzard is a ham and a bad actor works for 12, which short circuits actors and characters; it works much less well in 13. The banter Casey Affleck and James Caan's son (I cannot remember his name and Sara keeps calling him Kahn Jr) was great in 11 and 12; there is only one good exchange between the two in this movie, and I wanted more. 12 had great meta-dialogue about, for example, Clooney's age; the meta dialogue about Clooney's weight and Pitt's kids seems forced at the end of this film. There are some jokes that revolve around the word "Wang" that are less than great. The third time around, you can feel the twists coming.

While the weakest of the Soderbergh Ocean's films, Ocean's 13 is part of a series of summer blockbuster films that are the third in a series -- Spiderman, Pirates, Schreck, Bourne. I have an inchoate feeling that Ocean's 13 is playing games with its position as a blockbuster (something Slate wrote about). It is a less that perfect Ocean's film, but a great summer movie.


Matt Brady said...

Sounds interesting, and like I said in the previous post, I'll see it eventually. I knew Julia Roberts wasn't involved, but it's too bad Catherine Zeta-Jones isn't in the film. I love that last freeze-frame of O12, with her laughing. It's a beautiful image. And no Topher Grace?! You're right, his scene is O12 might have been the best part of the movie.

troy wilson said...

Um, so what was the Topher Grace scene in O12?

(I saw O12 and really enjoyed it, and I'm sure I'll remember the scene once someone identifies it. I'm just not familiar with Grace - haven't seen That 70's Show or Spidey 3.)

Madd_Hadder said...

Grace is staying in Brad Pitt's hotel and throwing a massive fit about his girlfriend, I believe.

I really enjoyed O13. It is a perfect fun summer movie. Plus, I think Matt Damon is great and it was fun seeing him with more to do this time around.

James Caan's son name is Scot and thanks for pointing out what I couldn't figure out and that was that the banter between Affleck and Caan was missing in this one.

Matt Brady said...

Yeah, the scene was with Topher Grace freaking out; he had dreadlocks, if I remember correctly, and he was talking about how he had freaked out and quit the show (That 70's Show), saying, "And I don't think this Kabbalah shit even works!" It was hilarious.

sara d. reiss said...

matt: it was long hair, no dreadlocks. He was supposed to be dressed goth-y (repleate with eye makeup and black fingernail polish if I'm not mistaken. but I might be). and he was adorable. I just love his sarcasm-drenched delivery. Subtle but ever present. I wish I could run into him at a dive bar so we could trade jokes. But Donna Pinciotti I ain't by even half.

I feel bad little-affleck can't get his name on the billboard ads and yes, he and Cann Jr. were so very sorely under-used. Their, forgive me, youthful energy really added something to the last two, and helped prevent them from getting too bogged down by uber-stars and their inside-jokes. They should work together on other projects, it'd be fun to see them together in a different context.

And, I'm making my plea now to Eddie, as I listen to Glorious on the BBC Radio: you. can't. act. so STOP IT. Bit parts and cameos: fantastic. Please stop with trying to be dramatic. It makes little baby G cry.

Troy Wilson said...

Thanks madd, matt, and sarah for the lowdown on the Topher scene. Now I vaguely remember someone causing trouble at Pitt's hotel, but that's about it. Just didn't make a big impression on me. I'll watch that part more closely whenever I check out O12 again.

Omar Cruz said...
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