The Ocean’s films become a trilogy with Ocean’s Thirteen, the sequel to the lackluster Ocean’s Twelve from just three years ago. While the series stumbled in its second effort, it bounced back in a big way for the third with a film that nearly rivals the Ocean’s crew’s first outing. With all of the big players, sans Julia Roberts, returning for the sequel, the cast and crew knew that the story would have be a hit in order to wash the bad taste that Ocean’s Twelve left in many viewers mouths.
Ocean’s Thirteen is all about getting revenge. When Willie Bank (Al Pacino) double-crosses Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould), Reuben’s heart begins to go out. After surviving the incident, Reuben’s crew, Danny Ocean (George Clooney), Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt), Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon) Basher Tarr (Don Cheadle), to name a few, begin putting plans into motion that will take out Bank’s new hotel and casino. Spending their own money to finance the operation, the crew sets out to perform their biggest heist yet—one that will cost Bank’s more than half a billion dollars.
I could see how some would find the film slightly dull and on the slow side, but I really enjoyed it from beginning to end. Perhaps it’s just because it’s such a cluster of big-name stars now that you could see how nearly every scene cost millions to produce, but in a movie where a big name like Matt Damon plays third fiddle, it’s easy to be impressed by the scenery alone. Still, even though there were some slow sequences in the film, rarely was there a scene without some form of comedy or plot progression—it may have felt like it crawled at times, but really there wasn’t anything in the film I saw that should’ve been cut to speed it up. It’s just a simple, relaxed film—these guys know what they’re doing and it’s no big deal to them to plan a big casino heist.
I will say that I did enjoy a lot of the minor characters efforts in the film more than Pitt, Clooney or Damon’s. In particular, Casey Affleck (Virgil Malloy) and Eddie Jemison (Livingston Dell) characters had great interaction with one another. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen the first two films in this series so I can’t say for sure whether they were as entertaining in past movies, but they really stood out here, especially in the drilling sequence—simple slapstick comedy that’s delivered pitch perfect.
Despite my enjoyment of the film, I’m having trouble pointing out specific elements of it that I enjoyed. Perhaps it was the laid back pace, but nothing really pops to my mind when I think about the film—it was just a fun time and really nothing more. It certainly won’t win any awards for acting, writing or directing, but the whole revenge aspect is always great fun to watch, especially when the person on the receiving end is very deserving of it. The note of mentioning that both Tishkoff and Bank’s shook Sinatra’s hand played out brilliantly in the film, especially at the end when Ocean told Banks “You shook Sinatra’s hand. You should know better.”
One thing that did stick out in the film was the constant throwbacks, either to previous entries in the series or to earlier scenes in the film. The scene with Ocean and Rusty watching Oprah seems to have no purpose but it later pays off in the end again with Andy Garcia’s (Terry Benedict) character. Garcia’s character in of itself was a big throwback to the previous films and seeing him get in on the action with Ocean and the crew was a nice addition to the series.
The architecture the hotel Bank’s built in the film was also astounding to see. The clip show we see of the hotel when Ocean talks about their plans to infiltrate it are simply amazing to watch. I had hoped we’d see some more of the hotel in the special features on the DVD, but there wasn’t a whole lot extra to see, even though we did get a small tour of it.
I could see the studio attempting a fourth entry to the series, but I really don’t think it’s needed. The first film was entertaining, the second weak and the third enjoyable; none of the films are really that groundbreaking, it’s just a big cluster of big-names in one place (just like the original Ocean’s Eleven), making it somewhat bankable regardless of the reviews that come out for the film. Still the series, at its core, is still enjoyable. Recommended.
Arriving in a single disc amaray case, Ocean’s Thirteen comes with very nicely done cover art (just about the only way they could fit the films enormous cast on the cover) and disc art that mirrors it. No inserts are inside the case and menus for the film are nicely laid out and easy to navigate.
On the video and audio front I was slightly disappointed. Considering the lackluster extras on the set I had expected an excellent technical transfer but found myself rather disgusted with the video. In the opening sequences especially, there is an enormous amount of grain mixed with compression. When Rusty boards the plane with Ocean I saw some minor blocking in the reds. Why they didn’t lighten up on the compression for the film, I don’t know—it’s quite ugly to look at and my TV isn’t even that big. I can only imagine what it looks like on a bigger screen. To be fair the disc space leftover on the actual DVD itself was minimal, but there was still a bit of room to manage a higher bit rate out of. Ah well. Perhaps it was because I remember seeing the trailer for it in the theaters on a digital screen that made the film look so much better on the big screen then it does here. I suppose the HD-DVD release of it looks miles above the standard DVD, but it’s still a disappointment for those of us who aren’t ready (or willing) to jump to the next video format yet.
Audio for the release was up to snuff, with crystal clear dialogue throughout and even a little subwoofer work during the “earthquake” sequences of the film. It was such a quiet track, never really calling for any kind of bass that the sudden shaking of the room when the drill started moving the casino came as a bit of a surprise.
Moving onto the extras we get a small collection of deleted scenes, none of which are lost in the film. An extended sequence of the casino scene where Clooney wear’s the giant mustache is included and comes with a variant of the “I put the towel back on” scene. The other deleted scenes are forgettable, with only the Garcia and Vincent Cassel’s (François Toulour) scene having any real substance.
Next we have an advertisement…I mean featurette for Vegas in “Vegas: Opulent Illusion.” Intercut with clips from the show, casino owners and those who know a lot about Vegas talk about what makes the strip so amazing. It’s a nice featurette, giving a history of Vegas in the process, but why it’s on this DVD and not on Ocean’s Eleven, I’m not sure. It’s also neat to see historical footage of old-Vegas compared to new-Vegas, but, again, more of a fluff piece than anything directly related to Ocean’s Thirteen.
Finally we have a featurette that actually focuses on the film, with producer Jerry Weintraub taking us through the sets of Ocean’s Thirteen. Don’t get too excited, however, as it runs under three minutes in length and aside from telling us that every slot machine and roulette table was actually real and worked, there wasn’t too much to see. He does point out where Clooney and Pitt stood during the filming, but why they couldn’t take a tour of it while…I don’t know, some of the actors were actually there, I don’t know.
And that’s it. There are no commentaries, there’s no special features with cast and crew interviews…nothing. Absolutely nothing. I’m consistently surprised that with a film that has such a huge cast that there are such weak extras on the DVDs. Ocean’s Twelve arrived with only a trailer, so I guess this is a step up—I still would like to see some making-of or something, even if it is total fluff.
If you enjoyed the film then this DVD comes Recommended on that principal only. It’s worth owning if you like the previous releases, but don’t go looking for anything once the films over with. You may want to go to Vegas after watching the “Vegas: Opulent Illusion” extra, but that’s about it.
Ocean’s Thirteen arrives on DVD, HD-DVD and Blu-Ray on November 13th.