Ocean's Thirteen (UK - DVD R2)
Scott McKenzie checks out Clooney, Pitt and Soderbergh's latest meal ticket...
When Reuben gets cut out of the deal to build a new casino by Willy Bank and falls ill, Danny Ocean returns to Las Vegas to plan a new heist as revenge for what Bank did to his old friend. The Bank is a state-of-the-art casino designed for high rollers so Danny, Rusty, Linus and the gang have to work out how to bring down the casino and make Bank’s investment worthless. Some characters from their past show up along the way, but will they stop Ocean’s thirteen from breaking The Bank?
I’ll be honest up front and say that I haven’t seen Ocean’s Twelve and while I always try not to judge a movie before watching it, knowledge of the Julia Roberts plot twist just makes me want to avoid it. It’s well-known that the first sequel to Ocean’s Eleven was made partly just so George Clooney and his mates could hang out and look cool in Europe. After the relative lack of performance of Twelve, the action has quite rightly moved back to the familiar settings of a Las Vegas casino for Thirteen.
The structure of Ocean’s Thirteen will be instantly familiar to fans of the first in the series, or any other caper movie for that matter. Act one involves a montage of people sitting around talking and clips of action to get as much exposition out of the way early on. Act two is when the problems arise and our heroes have to adapt to these complications and act three is the heist. There are some jokes dotted around but in a nutshell, that’s pretty much it for the structure. If you wanted character development, you’ve come to the wrong place I’m afraid. This isn’t a story about people coming to terms with their feelings and the lack of involvement by any female ‘good guys’ is explained only by the throwaway line ‘it’s not their fight’.
The only relationship that approaches something deeper than looking cool while exchanging witty banter is with the introduction of Linus’ father and the moment of them together is a welcome addition, albeit a brief one. The main problem I found with Ocean’s Thirteen is the fact that because there’s hardly any character development and the plot is so intricately constructed, no one in Ocean’s team ever really looks like they’re having any difficulty with the job, no matter what problems may arise. Everyone always seems to have a plan B or clever editing has led us to believe something else was going to happen, but from beginning to end the good guys are in complete control. As a result, there are hardly any real thrills to be had because unlike Ocean’s Eleven, you never get the feeling that anyone’s life is in danger.
There is still some fun to be had here though. As ever, Danny and Rusty continue to operate as one mind in two bodies and their lines are written as if it is one person talking to himself. There is more of an indication of a code of conduct among thieves and Vegas wise guys in this movie, with the oft-used line ‘you shook Sinatra’s hand’. The Oprah scene and the Mexico storyline are odd additions but while they don’t seem to fit in with what you expect from an Ocean’s movie, they are certainly enjoyable. The movie looks great too, with Soderbergh blending montage, dissolves, split-screen and tracking shots to ensure that even though it may not be the most exciting movie of 2007, it’s certainly a feast for the eyeballs.
Given the Las Vegas setting and very similar storyline, Ocean’s Thirteen could almost be described as a re-imagining of Soderbergh’s first movie in the series with the same cast. It’s a case of if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it filmmaking that returns to familiar territory after the series was almost broken for some fans with Ocean’s Twelve. This means that while the whole thing is incredibly familiar and danger-free, it’s a fairly enjoyable ride while it lasts but you’ll be reaching for Ocean’s Eleven before watching this for a second time.
Ocean’s Thirteen is presented with a 2.40:1 anamorphic picture and as I stated further up the page, it’s a good-looking movie. It’s very colourful throughout, with some scenes bathed in red light, some in green light but most with the gold tint that casinos use to keep you hooked. The picture has large patches of colour and darkness at times and there is a little grain and fuzziness at times, but nothing too detrimental to your viewing pleasure.
Music plays a large part in Ocean’s Thirteen, whether it’s the cool, laid-back theme that plays over the colourful producer credits at the beginning that has the air of Lalo Schifrin’s score for Bullitt, or the punchy background music that keeps the action moving along. The 5.1 surround track showcases David Holmes’ music very well, with the sounds of the casino sometimes taking a backseat. For this reason, it would have been great to have an isolated music track. This means that there’s not always a huge amount going on in the surround speakers but I can’t really fault the quality of what’s there on the soundtrack.
The disc opens with a trailer for the HD formats, then trailers for The Good German and No Reservations. ‘Vegas: An Opulent Illusion’ is probably the only thing that qualifies as a highlight in this lean set of extras as it documents the history of Las Vegas and follows the city’s constant reinvention, including interviews with casino owners. ‘Jerry Weintraub Walk and Talk’ is two and a half minutes of the producer walking around the casino set and is pretty much a total waste of time. Interestingly, the deleted scenes are called ‘Additional Scenes’ and are a small collection of extended and deleted scenes that would have been better if they’d come with a director’s commentary. It’s worth noting that the high definition releases of Ocean’s Thirteen come with a commentary track and a proper making-of featurette, which is surely the first sign that the studios are just beginning to turn their backs on standard DVD.
Ocean’s Thirteen is good fun while it lasts, but feels like more of the same rather than the latest chapter in a progressive series. The movie looks and sounds good on this release but the cynically poky set of extras on this standard definition release is a dark omen for future releases by Warner Bros and other studios as they ramp up their HD catalogue.
Review by Scott McKenzie
General viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children
Release Date: 5th November 2007
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles: English, Arabic, Hebrew, Icelandic
Extras: Vegas: An Opulent Illusion, Jerry Weintraub Walk And Talk, Additional Scenes
Easter Egg: No
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Al Pacino, Bernie Mac, Ellen Barkin, Scott Caan, Casey Affleck
Genre: Comedy, Drama and Thriller
Length: 117 minutes
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