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Warner Home Video presents
Ocean's Thirteen Combo DVD and HD-DVD (2007)

"This is how guys die or go to jail."
- Saul Bloom (Carl Reiner)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: November 27, 2007

Stars: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Ellen Barkin, Al Pacino
Other Stars: Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Eddie Jamison, Shaobos Qin, Carl Reiner, Eliott Gould, Eddie Izzard
Director: Steven Soderbergh

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief sensuality
Run Time: 02h:02m:01s
Release Date: November 13, 2007
UPC: 085391139232
Genre: crime


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ BB-B+ B

DVD Review

It was more than a little surprising when a remake of a 40-year-old Rat Pack movie became a hit movie in the 21st century. Part of that was due to the insanely star-studded cast and the fact that the facelift given to it was still fun and offered entertainment value on its own terms. It was even more surprising when that remake spawned two sequels, whereas the original never produced one. While the star-filled cast is intact (without Julia Roberts or Catherine Zeta-Jones), with the added punch of Al Pacino, the fun returns with a vengeance—or for vengeance (the less said about Ocean's Twelve the better).

Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) have to reassemble the gang in Vegas in order to get even with tycoon Willy Bank (Pacino). He made the mistake of chiseling the gang's mentor, Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould) out of his half of a new casino, and putting Reuben in the hospital with a coronary. After Bank declines Danny's offer to make things right by getting Reuben back into the partnership, the gang determines to bring Bank down on the night of his grand opening, both by breaking the bank and breaking Bank. And if they can manage to steal his carefully guarded diamonds worth a quarter of a billion dollars, all the better. But Danny isn't quite prepared for the AI security system that Bank has installed, and the elaborate scheme may not work quite as smoothly this time around.

The story is, as one might guess, a bit convoluted, which isn't helped by a somewhat fractured time frame that jumps around during the first reel. The plan is so complicated that it's difficult to follow at times, and too much of it depends on coincidence and the bad guys being plenty obtuse (for instance, they don't seem to recognize Danny Ocean when he's sporting a porn moustache and giant gold jewelry). At the same time, director Steve Soderbergh keeps things moving despite the obstacles, and propels it along with a good sense of fun. As things come together (even though they probably shouldn't by rights), you can't keep a smile off your face. One can't pay too close attention to the details, though, or it starts to fall apart pretty quickly.

Clooney is certainly earnest enough for the main plot thread to convince that he'd risk all his ill-gotten gains to get even on Reuben's behalf. At the same time, he credibly can't bring himself to look at Reuben in his debilitated state, which rings true for the character. Matt Damon gets in a few good scenes thanks to the most astonishing fake nose this side of Cyrano de Bergerac. Bernie Mac plays the slimy swindler role to the hilt, even when his swindle is transparently ridiculous (such as convincing Pacino to include dominoes on the floor of his casino.) Carl Reiner in particular gets to have fun with a masquerade as a hotel rater who sucks Bank into the scheme.

For some reason Soderbergh has adopted a wild visual scheme to the picture that keeps it a throwback to 1960s movies (despite the 2007 tech). The colors are insanely oversaturated and seldom naturalistic, and there is heavy grain to simulate period photography. It seems likely that the candy coloring is meant to be suggestive of the bright lights and tempting visuals of Las Vegas. As if to underline the 1960s visual sensibility, the later portions of the film, as we careen toward the climax, are presented in moving split-screen. The melding of periods is a little unwieldy, but it works well enough to produce a feeling of a harmless 1960s caper film. Despite the PG-13 rating, this probably really could have obtained a G rating if the producers had wanted one.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 OneTwo
Aspect Ratio2.40:1 - Widescreen2.40:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyesyes
Anamorphicnoyes


Image Transfer Review: The HD DVD side has some issues, and it may not be satisfying due to the oddball visual design; the colors are intensely oversaturated, but that seems to be very intentional. Skin tones are orange, skies are preternaturally blue, and reds are intensely eye-popping. There are also spots of heavy grain that are disturbingly sparkly. Part of that effect may be due to the edge enhancement that has been added on, at times very thickly. There's also a little aliasing visible when the elevator shaft cover is moved. The camera is almost always moving, and there's some significant motion artifacting. Shadow detail is plugged up but that seems to be part of the visual design so no points are deducted on that account.

The standard DVD side is consistent with the HD DVD, but since standard DVD really can't handle this heavy grain or these oversaturated colors at all, it won't please very many.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
English, French, Spanishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Only a standard DD 640Kb 5.1 track is provided, which is a little disappointing. However, there is nevertheless plenty of LFE, especially in the 'earthquake' sequences. The music has good range and nice presence. The dialogue seems almost mono. If you're not too hung up on technical audio specs, you'll probably be pleased by what you hear.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu
Scene Access with 34 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean with remote access
4 Deleted Scenes
2 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Steven Soderbergh, writers Brian Koppelman and David Levien
Packaging: Elite
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: The HD DVD side includes all of the extras; some of them are also repeated on the SD side. Exclusive to the HD DVD side, however, is a commentary from Soderbergh and the writers, which is more than a little goofy and doesn't really explain a lot about the stylized visuals. But it's chatty and certainly listenable; just don't expect too much hard information. Four deleted scenes totaling 4m:36d are presented in HD; several of them probably should have been retained in the picture since they help set up some events and dialogue that occur in the finale, which seem to come out of nowhere or be nonsensical.

In a 2m:25s featurette, producer Jerry Weintraub gives a brief tour of the casino set, though it's too short to really get much substance. Masters of the Heist (43m:56d) is a television program devoted to four scammers: Carlo Ponzi and his scheme, the MIT blackjack card counters, Doris Payne the jewel thief; and the still puzzling Gardner Art Museum robbery. While it's intended as a tie-in, it's a pretty loose association. Vegas: An Opulent Illusion (22m:46s) is more clearly tied, thanks to the numerous clips, but it's a fairly fluffy look at Vegas and its lavish lifestyles. There is, however, a fascinating segment in the middle discussing the psychology of casino design and the theory of how the casinos get people to go deeper into the building, where they'll spend more and more money. Otherwise it's fairly dispensable.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

A throwback picture that brings back the stellar cast and the sense of fun without being repetitive. The transfer has some issues, which isn't helped by the idiosyncratic visuals. While there are plenty of extras, they're of varying quality.

 


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