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Overall Rating

Awesome: 6.82%
Worth A Look: 15.15%
Just Average34.09%
Pretty Crappy34.09%
Sucks: 9.85%

12 reviews, 60 user ratings

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Ocean's Twelve
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by Peter Sobczynski

"As entertaining as it is disposable"
4 stars

There are two Steven Soderberghs out there directing films. One of them is the guy who puts his considerable skills at the service of an intricately planned narrative and comes up with highly efficient entertainments-films like “Out of Sight”, “Erin Brockovich” and “Traffic”. The other is a relentlessly experimental filmmaker who enjoys the risk going out with a camera and only the barest outline of an idea and hopes that he and his actors can create something out of thin air-this is the one who comes up with such off-the-wall titles as “Schizopolis” and “Full Frontal”. “Ocean’s Eleven”, his 2001 remake of the infamous Rat Pack caper film, was made by that first Soderbergh and was a slick and entertaining bit of nonsense in which he and his high-profile cast went through the motions of the intricate plot with machine-like precision. “Ocean’s Twelve”, on the other hand, feels more like the work of the second Soderbergh. Sly and audacious in its approach, he takes what could have been the most soulless and impersonal work of his entire career-how else would you describe a film made for no other reason than the fact that the first one made a kazillion dollars?-and turns it into one of the more oddly inspired sequels in recent memory.

The set-up couldn’t be more half-hearted and uninspired. Three years after the massive casino heist of the first film, George Clooney (we may as well refer to the people by their real names) has married Julia Roberts and is trying to lead the straight life. However, evil casino boss Andy Garcia, the target of the previous film, has finally tracked down Clooney and his co-conspirators-Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac and the other guys who weren’t worthy of the Entertainment Weekly cover-and is demanding the immediate return of the $160 million they stole-plus interest-if they want to live. Adding together what they have remaining, the group is still short $97 million and need to pull another big job quickly.

As they set up shop in Europe-first in Amsterdam and later in Rome- in order to make a big score, a couple of new characters pop up to complicate things. One of them is a fabulously rich and devious cat burglar known as The Night Fox (Vincent Cassell) who is hell-bent on proving that he, and not Clooney, is the best thief in the world and offers his rival a challenge with the $97 million as the stakes. Another is a comely European police officer (Catherine Zeta-Jones) who has two advantages to her credit; she knows how the criminal mind works and she really knows how the mind of former lover Pitt works. Because of them, things wind up unspooling in wildly unanticipated ways.

With most sequels, there is the temptation to simply redo what worked in the first one, only on a bigger and grander scale than before. The problem with using that approach in a film like “Ocean’s Twelve” is that the central heist of the first film was already so outlandish that you couldn’t really top it without either repeating yourself or completely destroying whatever credibility the story might have. On the other hand, you can’t do a film like this without a massive heist without running the risk of completely alienating the audience. Without spoiling things, all I will say is that Soderbergh and writer George Nolfi manage to come up with an approach that is ingenious in the way that it both satisfies and subverts audience expectations. Even more impressive is the fact that they do so in the guise of a storyline so seemingly arbitrary that it feels as if they are simply making things up as they go along-a blessed relief since most caper films are so absurdly overplotted that they cease to be interesting.

One of the most intriguing, if least-acknowledged, things about “Ocean’s Eleven” was the way that Soderbergh somehow managed to work a weirdly autobiographical subtext into the otherwise goofy proceedings. Essentially, the Clooney character could be read as an extension of the director-a skilled artist who could bring amazing talents together but could only pull off a $160-million score with the assistance of Julia Roberts. “Ocean’s Twelve” continues that approach as Soderbergh continually uses his film to comment upon both itself and its predecessor. The basic set-up of planning a follow-up heist that will guarantee a blockbuster sum is not a bit unlike the planning of the movie itself. Matt Damon, somewhat underused the first time around, has a moment here where he requests to play “a more central role this time around.” One of the plans, like so many blockbuster films, is entirely dependent on CGI technology and winds up failing as a result. And then there is the late-inning addition of the Julia Roberts character into the proceedings in a way that is sure to be the most-discussed aspect of the film; it is a gambit that could have failed miserably in a lesser film but which somehow works against all odds as the biggest curveball in a film full of them.

Reviewing the performances in a film like “Ocean’s Twelve” is like reviewing the paint jobs on the cars in the Indianapolis 500-you can do it, I suppose, but it is pretty much irrelevant. None of the actors here turn in great and powerful performances, but they aren’t supposed to. They are here simply to goof off and coast on their considerable star power and they do that well. The only person who doesn’t quite fit into the proceedings is Catherine Zeta-Jones; she seems convinced that she has to deliver an authentic performance and it is a little disconcerting to see her taking things seriously while people like Clooney and Pitt seem barely able to suppress smirks throughout their scenes

I’m not trying to suggest that “Ocean’s Twelve” is some grand masterpiece-to describe it as fluff would be to lend it a weight that it doesn’t posses. However, it is a surprisingly witty and self-aware goof that is about twelve times better than anyone in their right mind might have expected. Look, there are plenty of movies coming up in the next couple of weeks that will challenge your mind and spirit with serious subjects and intriguing approaches. “Ocean’s Twelve”, on the other hand, is nothing more than a bit of disposable entertainment; the difference here is that, unlike many other such films, it is just as entertaining as it is disposable.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11326&reviewer=389
originally posted: 12/10/04 00:04:28
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User Comments

6/09/10 Serge I think it was just a filler between 11 and 13 3 stars
3/28/08 Renzo Sucks! 1 stars
6/05/07 gr117 Great soundtrack & location shots- too bad the "plot" sucked 2 stars
3/16/07 Donny M Julia Roberts Scene Stupid 3 stars
1/23/07 Matt Thirteen Oceans of unadulterated crap. Gave up after 30 mins. 1 stars
11/30/06 Candice I love this movie. 5 stars
9/12/06 Agent Sands You have to be a hardcore fan of heist movies to really enjoy it the way I do! What a ride! 5 stars
7/24/06 Sully tripe. Damon was great, everyone else was boring. ending was ridiculous! 1 stars
7/07/06 CTT The cast definitely has a better time than the audience 3 stars
5/06/06 Charlene Javier Not as bad as everyone says it is... 3 stars
2/15/06 Indrid Cold Much of the chemistry and laughs of the first one, plot somewhat weaker though. 4 stars
11/24/05 Jacques the Man Actually, this is the most entertaining film I've seen all year. 5 stars
8/27/05 Lisa Brady terribly unbelievable 2 stars
7/31/05 Beth Kerrick Was disappointed it wasn't as good as the original. Not bad, but not great. 3 stars
7/13/05 Matthew Rudawsky Julia Roberts as herself was clever, but I wouldn't bother seeing the rest a 2nd time 3 stars
6/28/05 chimera Uninspired disaster 1 stars
6/24/05 Mr Fluffy Script not as tight as Eleven but directorially it's still up there with it. 4 stars
6/23/05 Adonis Fuentes Dumb dance sequence through the lasers 3 stars
6/07/05 Agent Sands You have to be a devout fan of heist & con flicks to really enjoy it. What a ride! 5 stars
5/24/05 Casey Becher A typical, disappointing sequel 2 stars
5/21/05 Charlene Javier Great inside jokes! 3 stars
5/17/05 mysterio Very boring movie. 2 stars
5/12/05 edsandiego2 I find it very entertaining. 4 stars
5/11/05 Beardog8 Love Soderbergh, but this was a let down from all involved. 2 stars
4/29/05 Phil M. Aficionado 40 minutes in, I decided this was not worth watching. What exactly was the point? 2 stars
4/27/05 Uncle Salty Worthless, %90 soundtrack, %10 movie 1 stars
4/23/05 Dan Ok movie, original one was better and always will be. 3 stars
4/23/05 Quigley we would need shovels - no, tractors! - to heap the bullcrap higher. Brad, we've had enough 1 stars
4/22/05 Monster W. Kung Crappy and uninteresting, and the twist sucks like a hoover. 2 stars
4/14/05 Scott Lamont Very anoying and hard to follow, even harder to swallow. 3 stars
4/06/05 brody what a bootleg film 1 stars
3/25/05 Denise good 4 stars
2/12/05 Sylvia Belle I enjoyted this one very much 5 stars
2/11/05 Kelly Self-indulgent, Ego-driven BORE of a Movie. The "aren't we awesome" posturing fell flat. 2 stars
2/11/05 John Jankowski very very average.. 3 stars
2/01/05 Casey Becher A pathetic attempt at a sequel. Sometimes it's better to stop while you're ahead. 3 stars
1/15/05 Feliciano this is what a real boring movie is, a movie with actually nothing interesting. 1 stars
1/08/05 Agent Sands FOR PEOPLE WHO LOVE HEIST MOVIES!!!!!!! SURPRISINGLY EQUIVALENT TO "ELEVEN"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
1/07/05 Elizabeth S Star cameo provides the movie's best moments; pretty charmless. 2 stars
1/04/05 redhand a terrable movie, pointless 1 stars
1/04/05 malcolm excellent, witty dialogue; but ending was a cheat 3 stars
1/02/05 Danno the Movie Manno Should have given Bruce Willis a bigger role 1 stars
12/27/04 efrain as one magazine put it: PEOPLE MAGAZINE COMES TO LIFE. 4 stars
12/27/04 Mike V What a boring, glitzy, empty, mess of a movie. 2 stars
12/19/04 Koitus Ugh! Cheesy details on "how the 12 did it." Identified criminals identities "too" easily. 2 stars
12/18/04 Lisa totally crappy 1 stars
12/16/04 Jack Ocean's 12 is a piece of crap. Soderbergh apparently wants to sully his reputation. 1 stars
12/16/04 Carl Utterback Amusing diversion if you liked the characters (and actors) from Ocean's 11. 4 stars
12/14/04 Elizabeth Bates Great Film!!!! 5 stars
12/14/04 Elizabeth Boring and uninspired, save for a few humorous bits. 2 stars
12/14/04 Mikester Vincent Cassel rocks ! 4 stars
12/12/04 KingNeutron I enjoyed it, espec. the "JR lookalike" subplot. ;-) 4 stars
12/12/04 rich a little too cute on itself and not enough PLOT 2 stars
12/11/04 Scott like The Village--you find out the "secret", but wish you hadn't 3 stars
12/11/04 ajay some funny moments, but overall... boring. 2 stars
12/11/04 Andrew If you don't like Ocean's 12 your too self conscience 5 stars
12/11/04 Kristina Williams celebrity whorefest 2 stars
12/11/04 Bob Kolk Not since Lost in Translation have I had a stronger urge to get up and leave a theater. 1 stars
12/10/04 John Very good movie 5 stars
12/07/04 Ray Big deal 3 stars
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  10-Dec-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 12-Apr-2005



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