Ocean’s 12

| December 12, 2004

Hello, dedicated FM fans, your beloved Fletch here (aka Clint Fletcher, aka ”s Gift to Women). For weeks now, the writers here at FM have been trying to cook up something special for the holiday season, seeing as how Hollywood refuses to do so. With shit-storms like Surviving Christmas and Christmas with the Kranks, we all knew that you guys out there deserved better.
So, with the holiday movie season closing in and the growing diversity of the FM family among us, we thought it would be neat if twelve of us reviewed the exact same film so that you fans could get a number of different opinions on the same movie. And since we’re so damn clever, we decided to pick the most anticipated film of the year, Ocean’s 12, and get exactly twelve reviewers to do the job! What’s that? Don’t have time to read twelve reviews?
Have no fear- these are merely capsule reviews (a paragraph a piece) so you can breeze through it quickly. After all, things really do come cheaper by the dozen. So put down your spiked eggnog and check them out below. And don’t forget to take a glance at all of our other happenings going on at FM. Hairy Holidays from the family here at Film Monthly!
Wayne Case
At an excessive running time of two hours, they could have named it OCEANS 12 1/4. since it’s at least twenty minutes too long. There is a serious lack of tension and no suspense. I found it confusing and far too complicated for the lark it’s clearly intended to be. I won’t be the only one to point out the obvious but will say it here anyway: The cast probably had a better time making the film than many viewers will have viewing it.
Nevertheless, anyone that liked Ocean’s Eleven (2001) and the millions that are big fans of one or more of the highly popular cast, should check it out. My expectations were probably too high. Speaking of the cast, nobody’s career is going to be hurt by their work here but I doubt that any additional offers are going to come there way because of this either. Specifically, my favorites were the following: (1) Julia Roberts is outstanding and her section of the film is terrific. (2) George Clooney looks good and is appropriately low key. (3) Brad Pitt looks good and is as effective as the material allows. (4) Matt Damon looks good and gets some nice laughs. (4) Catherine Zeta-Jones looks good in almost all of her scenes, but the cameramen and makeup artists didn’t do her any favors is one particular close-up. As a welcome addition in this sequel, she is certainly up to the standards set by the returning cast members from Oceans Eleven. Everyone else is fine but not special as far as I’m concerned.
Coco Delgado
Ocean’s 11 was a remake better than the original, and, appropriately, Ocean’s 12 is a sequel as good as its predecessor. It’s witty and stylish, the stars are obviously having fun revisiting the characters…and there’s a clever Arsenic and Old Lace conceit involving a certain Oscar-winner. But the best bit of all is a throwaway visual joke in a scene involving a distraction pulled by the 12: Danny Ocean in a Yankees hat, Turk Malloy in a Red Sox cap, and a few words exchanged ensuing in a car-wide brawl on a European train. It’s refreshing to know that some things are constant in an ever-changing world.
Clint Fletcher
Still great fun after three long years. This movie feels like a reunion of old friends… very humorous friends who like to playfully fight with each other. But you’ll definitely be scratching your head as to what the hell just happened while coming out of this puppy. If you can ignore the extraordinarily complex and confusing plot because you’re too mesmerized by the cast, then take a ride with the old gang from Ocean’s 12.
Del Harvey
Big stars in a big scam that goes nowhere bigtime. Is there a story? By the time you’ve had the original concept twisted and turned around on itself the sixth or seventh time, then no, there is no story. If you are required to sit through a film for two hours, there should be a story. The entire film was a mood piece: Clooney’s happy-go-lucky, Pitt’s devil-may-care, Roberts is cautious and tense, Zeta-Jones is disappointed and frustrated. Is there a bad guy? No. Andy Garcia’s return is merely a whiff of danger; after that, there’s rivalry with newcomer and top French boxoffice star Vincent Cassel, but the rest is pure fluff. Never has one director shown such total abandon for ethics in filmmaking; I see this as Soderbergh being the sober designated driver for one long cast party in Europe. Well, at least not since Full Frontal. Oh… same director. Nevermind.
I enjoyed Soderbergh’s early works: The Limey, Out of Sight, Traffic. Then after the accolades Traffic got, and his newfound big-name star friends, all Soderbergh’s stuff has come out lopsided. Even Ocean’s 11 wasn’t very good.
“What am I looking for,” you ask? Here’s what I look for in a film:
1. At the very least, entertainment.
2. I don’t need big name stars to mesmerize me for two hours–a babbling brook, the scent of the beach, and a sunny day can do that.
3. A plot, a mere story–when you collapse it and smash it and bend it inward upon itself three or four times until no one can figure what the hell is going on, then you don’t even know your own plot and you’re just confusing the audience. Remember when Clooney asks Cassel to explain how he got inside the museum without any tools? Then Cassel described this ridiculously over-the-top dance sequence? THEN he avoids the next answer completely? They don’t know their own plot. It’s quite sad, really.
I find the good quite often in the smallest budget, no-name cast films. And the jokes in O-12 weren’t very–the funniest were all “in-jokes,” such as Clooney’s asking if he really looked 50. And what’s this business with Matt Damon’s parents bailing him out? Was his Dad LeMarq? How many bigtime thieves are there in the world? My suspension of disbelief was stretched too thin to even care.
On a positive note, I very much enjoyed the soundtrack. Helluva reason to make a film, though.
Hart Hoppe
More about the humorous characters than the heist, Ocean’s 12 delivers safe laughs through big stars. However, I began to feel a bit disenchanted with the experience, when all I was looking forward to was the next chuckle. While an inventive plot, the nonlinear structure may loose some audiences, especially when its complexity doesn’t seem to fit the relaxed tone of the film, or its predecessor. However, all this said, Ocean’s 12 doesn’t fail to bring to us the laughs (albeit cheap) and straight forward entertainment that one expects when walking into the film.
Trent Johnson
Upon sitting on Ocean’s Twelve and giving a good once-over in my mind, I have to say: initial reaction, hated it. Delayed reaction, growing on me.
Don’t go into Twelve expecting Eleven. Eleven, Twelve is not. Director Soderbergh throws the slick look of Eleven out the window to favor his signature grainy, handheld feel which, in retrospect, worked for me.
Soderbergh said Eleven was where everything goes right. Twelve is where everything goes wrong. It’s a total 180 from the predecessor. The one gripe I still hold is certainly the story. Big American thief meets big European thief? We can do better than that, I think…
If you can look beyond a so-so story and just accept it as a stage for the stars to ooze their share of charisma and chemistry, you’ll have as fun a time as the cast no doubt did.
Mark Jones
To understand the amount of brain power that went into making this sequel of sequels one must only look as far as the tagline: “12 is the new 11.” Step back, geniuses at work. If you’re prone to motion sickness, be warned: the cinematography at times may leave you feeling as though you’ve stepped into a tilt-a-whirl. Unfortunately the theater did not provide barf bags, so eat your popcorn during the previews and save the bucket. Oh, and make sure you hold onto it until the end, for surely if Soderbergh’s Wild Ride doesn’t get you, the inevitable and quite predictable melodrama provided by the addition of Catherine Zeta-Jones’ “Isabel Lahiri” will.
Todd Lillethun
George Clooney and company appear to be having a pretty good time in this seasonal sequel, but the fun is pretty much all theirs. Ocean’s 12 preoccupies itself with winking and nudging its audience instead of delivering any kind of coherent heist drama — you’re likely to feel sore, not only from bruised ribs, but from being ripped off at the box office, where the real heist has taken place. Brad Pitt struts around Amsterdam in Armani chic, Clooney and Matt Damon chew on some self-effacing comic bits, the producers give themselves and their friends cameos, but no one attends to the business at hand. There’s something about a payback deadline, an old romance between a thief and a detective, and a French playboy who challenges the team at its own game, but nothing really registers. At first, the script plays coy, keeping motivations and logic a secret for as long as possible, then reveals them at its own convenience far too late. Ritzy, suave, and always pretending it’s smarter than it is, the whole thing collapses into an industry joke (Julia Roberts playing Julia Roberts) that is far too stupid even for these players.
Alex Rojas
Lackluster effort from Soderbergh with an uninspiring story that couldn’t even make me pull a heist in my pants if all the actors were Vivid Video pornstars.
Kristin Schrader
When I like a movie for no good reason I often claim “It’s a mood piece!” and then imply that my companion is too coarse to understand these things, whether or not that is really so. This time I found myself hissing “It’s a style piece” trying to effect the same result. People who don’t get that are under suspicion for things like wearing Naturalizers or white after Labor Day. Sometimes style is substance. Or, in haiku…
The new eleven
Fashions itself as it will,
We now call it twelve
Joe Steiff
The second string steps up to the plate, but once again, it’s a woman whose heart is about to be stolen. Ocean’s Twelve is one of those films that was probably more fun to make than to watch, and there were a few times I felt that a Hollywood insider would be rolling on the floor with glee. But even if I weren’t completely in on the joke, I enjoyed watching Ocean’s Twelve much more than I did Ocean’s Eleven, which I never found to be the landmark whimsical remake that everyone seemed to think it was. Of course, in hind sight, it might have helped to watch that earlier film right before going to see Ocean’s Twelve, because even with all the time spent catching us up with each character at the beginning of Ocean’s Twelve, I still felt lost. The contrivance to bring them together for another heist gets a bit convoluted, and there are a few glaring leaps in narrative logic (such as the guys easily figuring out the identity of the Night Fox when no one else can). Bruce Willis’ cameo goes on way too long, the Julie Roberts joke gets old fast and Topher Grace’s appearance is just bizarre. Whereas the first film was anchored by George Clooney and Julia Roberts’ characters’ estranged relationship, this film is anchored by Brad Pitt and Catherine Zeta-Jones’ characters’ estranged relationship. Once everything goes wrong for the team, Matt Damon steps a bit more into the limelight along with Scott Caan. And the movie clips along at a brisk pace. Ultimately this is nothing more than a “boys-will-be-boys” competition without much menace. We never really believe these people are going to lose their lives or that the stakes are as high as the narrative would like us to believe, but the film is meant to be fluff, a chance to get together with old friends. Even if we only think we know who they are. The closing credits say it all, when the poker table is stacked high with chips next to a face-up Joker card. The joke may be on us, but it’s such a gentle joke that I’m willing to smile just the same.
Hank Yuloff
It was fun for the actors in the original Oceans 11 to work together. They were the Rat Pack. They were drinking buddies. They worked together before and after. The movie was a paid vacation for Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop. The quality was there–it was an interesting and fun flick to watch, but you knew that to the players, the play was not really the thing.
Fast forward to Oceans 12 and you get the same feeling. Sure, there is a story, but there is another story within the play and there are lots of inside jokes for those who want a little bit more. George Clooney, Brad “No Longer the Sexiest Man Alive” Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Carl Reiner, Elliot Gould, and Julia Roberts took a paid vacation to Europe and made a movie that is entertaining, but most of the laughs have very little to do with the plot.

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