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Warner Home Video presents
Ocean's Twelve (2004)

"You're doing recon work on our anniversary?"
- Tess (Julia Roberts)

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: April 11, 2005

Stars: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Julia Roberts
Other Stars: Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Vincent Cassel, Eddie Jemison, Carl Reiner, Elliot Gould
Director: Steven Soderbergh

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language
Run Time: 02h:05m:09s
Release Date: April 12, 2005
UPC: 085393894825
Genre: action comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- D+A-B D-

DVD Review

You can always count on a Steven Soderbergh movie to be innovative. He basically created indie cinema with Sex, Lies, and Videotape. He worked out his marriage troubles in the schizophrenic Schizopolis. With last year's follow-up to his mainstream hit Ocean's Eleven, the director took another big risk. He decided to find out if a movie studio would let him take $100 million and a dozen Hollywood stars to Italy for a few months, film them all looking smart, sexy, stylish, and famous, spend all the money on booze and parties, and release the result as a winter blockbuster. Fortunately for him, the plan worked. He got his money, the stars got paid for their extravagant vacation, and the movie came out. Unfortunately for audiences, the movie was Ocean's Twelve, which, if nothing else, makes its predecessor seem like a much better film.

When the sequel was first announced, I got the impression the entire original team was going to return, but it seems everyone forgot about the most important member—screenwriter Ted Griffin, whose intricately planned and smart script was the reason Ocean's Eleven didn't turn out like, well, Ocean's Twelve. Instead, the studio took a script that they already had lying around and adapted it for Ocean and his crew. And by "adapted," I mean, "removed any semblance of an actual, coherent plot."

What we're left with is a heist movie without a heist, or, proof that irony is often not as funny as a certain nerdy glasses-wearing director wants us to think it is. Yes, the entire gang is back, including Danny Ocean (George Clooney), his wife Tess (Julia Roberts), the charmer, Rusty (Brad Pitt), the nervous pickpocket Linus (Matt Damon), and... Well, a bunch of other characters, all of whom have names, but it's not like it matters since, minus those four, the rest are back mostly so the audience can gaze up at the screen in wonder, awash in the glow of a scene featuring Bernie Mac, Don Cheadle, and Elliot Gould. Also back is Las Vegas tough Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), whom Ocean and his crew robbed of $160 million (and Tess, if you remember), three years ago. With a little help, he tracks them down and politely asks for his money back. Politely for Vegas, anyway, which means all original fingers remain attached. They've all spent a lot of it, though, so when given two weeks to come up with the cash, Ocean's 11 must reunite for another job, this one with life-or-death consequences.

Oh, I'm sorry, I got off track there. That's the movie I actually wanted to watch. What actually happens is, in order to pay Benedict off, the crew gets involved in a contest with a criminal known as Night Fox (Vincent Cassel), who fancies himself the greatest crook alive. It was Night (Fox?), you see, who ratted on Ocean and Co. to Benedict, in order to con them into taking his bet: If they can pull off an elaborate robbery, he'll pay off their debt to Benedict. If they fail, Night Fox will be proven the world's greatest, and, well, everyone else will be dead. Yay!

The movie decides to waste this lesser premise too, however, in ways I suppose I can't spoil, but don't say I didn't warn you. But I think we can agree that moving from an ambitious plan to rob a casino to a stealing a Faberge egg can be considered a step back in terms of impressing audiences (especially when the ending... well, I said I wouldn't spoil it, but... the first movie's always on TBS, and that's free, get the hint?). What's left are, literally, a bunch of totally inconsequential scenes of some very charismatic, likeable stars bantering back and forth. That's it. For two hours. And badly, too—good luck finding a memorable line. Except for the few minutes spent "developing" newcomer Catherine Zeta-Jones, an agent of Europol who just happens to be Rusty's ex, and also the winner of "Motion Picture Character with the Most Contrived Backstory, Like, Ever."

The first movie was just about perfect entertainment, and director Soderbergh walked a fine line between winking at the audience and telling a good story. This time around, he spends more time winking at the audience than anything else, though, constantly reminding us we're watching a movie in ways that are supposed to be clever, I think, but come off as smug in the worst way possible (I knew I was in for it during an early scene that actually bleeps out swear words, just because, I guess).

This would all be easier to swallow if I hadn't read all those reports of the wild partying that went on during the shoot, on the studio's dime. I mean, I know Hollywood stars are removed from reality and all, but do they really have to rub my face in it while I'm watching a movie that's supposed to be escapist entertainment? And do I really have to sit there and take it? The answer to the latter question is, thankfully, not again.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: D+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: I'll say this: Ocean's Twelve is a better-looking movie than its predecessor, minus the constant muddy red filter shots, and it looks pretty nice on DVD, with strong colors and detail and deep blacks. Aside from intentional grain in some sequences, this is a very clean transfer, and another great effort from the studio.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The 5.1 mix is rather subdued, but still appropriate for the material. The front soundstage handles the brunt of the mix, with strong, clear dialogue and good stereo seperation. The surrounds kick in to provide support during the noisier moments, but this isn't exactly an action film, so there's not a ton of that.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 36 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extras Review: I'm sure it says something that the only extra on this disc, for a film that was, theoretically, a big blockbuster for the studio. I'm just too polite to point out what that is. Oh, no I'm not—all involved were more interested in boozing it up on the studio's dime than actually making a movie worth discussing in an audio commentary.

Oh, and the disc starts off with DVD trailers for The Aviator, Phantom of the Opera, and Million Dollar Baby, if you consider those extras. Like, say, extra reminders that you'd probably prefer one of those movies.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

Apparently all involved with Ocean's Twelve thought us rubes would be happy with a vacuous, paper-thin piece of entertainment as long as there were a lot of pretty, pretty famous people to ogle. Well, the joke's on them. That's why we read People. And at least doing that doesn't take 125 minutes. Warner Bros. didn't put much effort into the bare-bones DVD, either.


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