Friday, June 15, 2007

Danny Boy

I intend to go see Ocean's 13 as soon as I am able, and I can't remember ever being excited to see a sequel whose immediate predecessor was as bad as this one's. As good as Ocean's 11 was, that's how wretched 12 was. I am ordinarily a big fan of George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh (not to mention people like Bernie Mac, Don Cheadle, etc.), but Ocean's 12 was easily the worst Soderbergh movie I have seen, and let me tell you, I have seen Schizopolis. And Kafka.

One of the biggest challenges for Ocean's 11 was creating enough screen time for all eleven characters plus Andy Garcia as the bad guy and Julia Roberts as the girl (a problem that Maudlin's 11 sidestepped by including Johnny Puleo and the Harmonica Gang as part of the eleven, effectively turning five characters into one), and Soderbergh handled that fine. But in 12, everyone was back, plus they added Catherine Zeta-Jones (I think she was technically No. 12), Albert Finney, and extended cameos from Bruce Willis and Eddie Izzard, plus some French guy who got way too much screen time. They dealt with diminishing room for the original eleven guys by throwing them into jail for large parts of the movie.

How else did Ocean's 12 fail? I would warn you that some of these are spoilers, except that this movie was spoiled long before I saw it:

* Rather than stealing something of immense value, the 11 decide to bet some French guy that they could steal something of immense value. If they steal it, they win the bet and the French guy pays them $91 million. Huh?

* Despite the fact that the movie was already overloaded with characters, there were scenes in which the only person was that French guy, whom nobody cared about.

* Julia Roberts played a scene in which she was asked to imitate Julia Roberts. This didn't work.

* The first three-quarters of the movie, we come to find out later, is all a ruse; via flashback we find that they committed the heist before the most of the movie took place.

* And said heist consists, literally, of hitting the guy who has the object of immense value on the head and taking it from him. Seriously.

So why am I interested in seeing Ocean's 13? Because people this talented can't make a movie that bad twice in a row, and because Ocean's 11 really was fantastic, almost as good as Out of Sight, the best movie of the Nineties, which was made by many of these same people. Another blogger described Ocean's 13 thusly: "I kind of saw it as the movie that Ocean's Eleven might have been, had that movie not been so much better than it should have been," and I'll bet that's about right.

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