Judge Ryan Keefer knows that a ten-three suited pair could use some work, but he could limp into the pot with that hand.
Our reviews of Ocean's Thirteen (published November 13th, 2007), Ocean's Thirteen (HD DVD And DVD Combo) (published December 13th, 2007), Ocean's Trilogy (Blu-Ray) (published February 2nd, 2008), and Ocean's Trilogy (HD DVD) (published February 9th, 2008) are also available.
Revenge is a funny thing.
Ocean's Eleven became a surprise hit of the 2001 holiday movie season, bringing in almost $200 in domestic gross alone. So of course, the film spawned two sequels, the first one which seemed to be universally panned and yet still raked in $125 million. So the final part of this star studded trilogy was released to warmer reactions, yet made the least of the three films. Now that it's on video, how does Ocean's Thirteen measure up?
Facts of the Case
The final part of the trilogy was written by Brian Koppelman and David Levien (Walking Tall), and Oscar winner Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) returned to the director's chair for the third part. Danny Ocean (George Clooney, Syriana) and Rusty (Brad Pitt, Troy) bring the other members of the group back together to enact revenge on a casino magnate named Willie Bank (Al Pacino, Scent of a Woman), who double-crossed their friend Reuben (Elliott Gould, American History X). So Danny, Rusty, Linus (Matt Damon, Good Will Hunting), Basher (Don Cheadle, Talk to Me), Frank (Bernie Mac, Transformers), Livingston (Eddie Jemison, Waitress), Virgil (Casey Affleck, To Die For), Turk (Scott Caan, Boiler Room), Saul (Carl Reiner, Summer School) and Yen (Shaobo Qin) return to try and "Break the Bank." Simple, no?
I really don't mind these films, although some seem to think that these Ocean's films are just an opportunity for a lot of marquee names to appear in a self-indulgent promotional vehicle. And yeah, that was probably the main reason why the second film stunk the joint up the way it did. With everyone (save for Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta-Jones) returning for this third one, the prevailing theme during the production was the fact that everyone wanted to return to basics, or get as close to them while still having fun. So what made the first film so fun? Simply put, the heist, while being a little bit implausible, kept you thrilled and on the edge of your seat
So sure, the third film has little character development, because Soderbergh and the cast are in the unique position of knowing what the viewer expects. And to the credit of the filmmakers, they make sure to get to the heist as quickly as possible, explaining what's needed to get to the finish line of achieving payback for Reuben. And yeah, the heist has its own dialogue, mysterious phrases like doing "an Irwin Allen," or a "Billy Martin," or helping Linus out with something involving Bank's assistant Abigail (Ellen Barkin, The Fan) with something called a "Gilroy." But why should you care what they mean? You're part of a heist with a grand plan.
From a performance point of view, everything is fine, the cast is so comfortable with their characters that they seem to be free to incorporate whatever they choose into the film. Consider a scene where Danny and Rusty are watching Oprah and start to tear up. Things like that, where they don't show the presumable hardened façade of a con man have made these things fun over the first film, a small part of the second and most of the third.
For a film like Ocean's Thirteen to look like it does really is disappointing. The 2.40:1 widescreen version of the film presents blacks that aren't all that deep, and flesh tones that perversely sport an orange hue, particularly in the case of Pacino. There is quite a bit of detail in the image, however this is somewhat erratic over the film's two hours and not really worth marveling at. In the audio department, while there's no lossless soundtrack to enjoy, the Dolby Digital 5.1 option shows off the score rather well, and is somewhat immersive without disappearing into anonymity.
In Judge Ben Saylor's review of the standard definition disc, he bemoaned the lack of a commentary track with Soderbergh. Said commentary track has been included as an exclusive on the Blu-ray and HD DVD versions of this title, so to quote Nelson Muntz, "Ha Ha!" The track also includes Koppelman and Levien and is very jovial. Soderbergh's sense of humor is pretty dry throughout the track, and Koppelman and Levien feed to that a bit as well. But when it ventures into seriousness, the writers ask the director about his process and thoughts on the shoot, and Soderbergh possesses a good recollection of the production as well. Sure, the commentary may just be for "very bored people," as one of them says, but they're a fun listen and I'd listen to them again, assuming the trilogy turns into a quadrilogy. The other HD exclusive extra is an intriguing piece titled "Masters of the Heist." It's about forty five minutes and talks about some of the more notable heists in memory. The first segment covers Charles Ponzi and the Ponzi "pyramid scheme" of the 1920s. The second segment focuses on a group of MIT students who periodically hit the blackjack tables at the casino. It wouldn't be such a big deal if they weren't able to count cards efficiently and develop a system to maximize winnings as a result. The process on how to count is talked about, and their system is revealed as well. Segment three is on Doris Payne, a longtime con woman who has been able to lift rings valued in the tens of thousands of dollars, many times right under a jewelry store clerk's nose. The final segment is on a multi-million dollar heist of Rembrandt and other highly prized artwork in Boston in the early '90s. The piece is quite interesting and well worth checking out. The piece that focuses on Las Vegas, entitled "An Opulent Illusion," sounds like it's narrated by Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs), and seems like twenty minute Chamber of Commerce plug, which isn't really necessary for that city. Next up, Jerry Weintraub, the film's producer who also appeared as Denny Shields, walks through the casino set for a couple of minutes, and aside from four deleted scenes that don't really add anything to the film, the film's trailer is the only other extra to be had.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
As part of a larger complaint that I have for the trilogy of films; of the three, you can only purchase this film individually, the other titles are not available for individual sale. I'm sure someone's started an online petition of sorts to try and persuade Warner Brothers to break the set up, and if that's the case, consider me one of the undersigned.
If you come in not expecting a redefinition of the cinematic landscape, and want to enjoy a good old fashioned heist with lots of humor and a lot of money associated with it, then Ocean's Thirteen is worth it. The audio and video aren't really that memorable, but the extras are an improvement on the standard definition disc. So if you like this film and the others, go by the boxset that has all three in it and be well.
Let's hope that this is the last of the films with Danny Ocean, because anything further would be beating a dead horse.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
• Commentary with Director Steven Soderbergh and Screenwriters Brian Koppelman and David Levien
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