Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Ocean's Trilogy

The Ocean’s trilogy consists of three films: Ocean’s Eleven, which is a remake of the 1960 film of the same name, and its subsequent sequels Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen. The films star George Clooney as Danny Ocean, a thief who enlists Rusty Ryan, played by Bad Pitt, and a group of criminals to participate in various heists throughout the three films. The criminal team, known as Ocean’s Eleven, is composed of an ensemble cast of celebrities including Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, and Bernie Mac.

One of the appeals of Ocean’s Eleven is the strength and complexity of the plot. The heist plan is never revealed in its entirety until the very end of the film. At various points of the film (such as Saul’s apparent death), the plan crafted by Danny Ocean and his associates seems to be unraveling. However, the plan is never truly in jeopardy, as the team has evidently planned for any possible occurrence. The film continues at a break-neck pace, never staying at any one moment too long and revealing too much. The viewer is constantly left in the dark regarding certain plot elements, allowing them to try and figure out the ending for themselves.

Ocean’s Twelve really strays from the strengths that made Ocean’s Eleven so great. The plot never reaches the speed and intricacy of the first film, and takes too long to actually get to the heart of the film. In the first film, each member of the team was given a specific job, and their involvement was essential to the success of the heist. Every character was relevant to the overall plot and their contributions were necessary for the team to have success. Ocean’s Twelve strays from that ideal as the story becomes more focused on Danny Ocean and Rusty Ryan, instead of the group at large. In particular, the characters of Frank and Saul, played by Bernie Mac and Carl Reiner respectively, are for the most part non-factors throughout the film, and the rest of the team is likewise put on the back-burner. The film also played too much on its comedic attributes, focusing on Julia Robert’s likeness to….well, Julia Roberts, and elements such as Bruce Willis’s cameo and Don Cheadle’s accent.  Ocean’s Twelve tried too hard to be funny and quirky, instead of focusing on the intricate plot that made the first film great. Instead, at the end of the film they introduce a plot element that essentially makes the last half of the movie meaningless. 

Ocean’s Thirteen improves greatly on the second film, but does not do enough to ultimately live up to the level of Ocean’s Eleven. The plot moves at a much quicker pace than the previous film, and actually begins to feel like Ocean’s Eleven – the team members are all crucial and the plot is actually exciting. However, the characters are given no development whatsoever, haven’t been properly expanded on since the first film. Additionally, the film still suffers from a few plot holes – namely the Seismograph camera used to spy on the antagonist Banks, and the drill used to fake the earthquake at the end of the film. The viewer is required to suspend his belief that Banks would most surely dispose of a seismograph that he had no interest in keeping, and that no one in the entirety of Las Vegas would notice the installation of a drill large enough to create an earthquake. While the film is still an enjoyable experience and helps cover up some of the disappointment of the previous film, it ultimately does not live up to the great expectations set by Ocean’s Eleven.

The Ocean’s trilogy is not your typical crime-thriller. It stays away from the guns and violence, and sticks primarily to mind games. The Ocean’s Trilogy also excels in its scene transitions and creativity with its camerawork. The car scene from Ocean’s Eleven stands out, with its unique perspective on Danny Ocean’s and Rusty Ryan’s conversation during their drive through Las Vegas. This similar scene is repeated in Ocean’s Twelve with Danny Ocean’s adversary Toulour. Additionally, the train scene from Ocean’s Eleven where Linus (played by Matt Damon) steals from a fellow passenger is shot in slow motion compared to the rest of the movie. This scene helps emphasize the speed and efficiency of Linus’s work. One of the few strengths present through all three Ocean films is the distinctive and unique camerawork, and it really helps specific scenes stand out to the viewer and communicate their intention.

We love to watch the bad guys be the good guys, and even though they aren’t supposed to win, we cheer for them anyways. The Ocean’s trilogy is exciting and enjoyable, but don’t expect the movies to get better after the first film.

Ocean’s Eleven – 9/10

Ocean’s Twelve – 5/10

Ocean’s Thirteen – 7/10

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