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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: Ocean's Twelve

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#1 of 35 OFFLINE   Herb Kane

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Posted March 31 2005 - 01:11 PM

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Ocean's Twelve

Studio: Warner Brothers
Year: 2004
Rated: PG-13
Film Length: 125 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Enhanced Widescreen
Audio: DD 5.1
Color/B&W: Color
Languages: English & French
Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
MSRP: $27.95
Package: Single disc/Keepcase

The Feature:
Remember that heist in Vegas three years ago when the Bellagio Casino was robbed of $160 million? Well, casino owner Terry Benedict (played by Andy Garcia) wants his money back. He and a pair of his thuggish looking twins show up at the Ocean residence to confront Tess Ocean (played by Julia Roberts) and warns her that her husband, Danny Ocean (played by George Clooney) the ringleader of the organization that robbed from him, has exactly fourteen days to pay up - plus interest - or else. Needless to say, the group has to come up with a significant amount of money to repay their debt which forces them back into action to pull off another extraordinary caper. It doesn't matter that the insurance company has paid off Terry for his loss, as he sees this now as a way of doubling his money.

Benedict means business as he soon pays a visit to all of the original participants warning them of his proposed deadline. Those included on his tour of terror are: Linus Caldwell (played by Matt Damon), Basher Tarr (played by Don Cheadle), Frank Catton (played by Bernie Mac), Turk Malloy (played by Scott Caan), Virgil Malloy (played by Casey Affleck), Livingston Dell (played by Edward Jemison), Yen (played by Shaobo Qin), Saul Bloom (played by Carl Reiner), and Reuben Tishkoff (played by Elliott Gould) the Vegas tycoon who has perhaps, the best costuming of anyone in the history of cinema. Good looking and charming Rusty Ryan (played by Brad Pitt) also receives a stern warning and loses something dear to him in the process.

Danny is left with no other option and decides to recruit the old gang, but they know they're too hot for an American job so Ryan makes a suggestion for an Amsterdam job - albeit, with an ulterior motive far greater than loot. While they're in Amsterdam, they hook up with Matsui (played by Robbie Coltrane) a local with numerous underworld connections who sets them up with their next job. The ultimate payoff comes in the form of a priceless Faberge egg on display in Rome, Italy. However, they suddenly find themselves in direct competition with another criminal mastermind, the egotistical Night Fox (played by Vincent Cassel). So confident in his ability and title to be the world's greatest thief, he places a bet with Danny and his crew putting them in a race for the coveted egg. What follows is a roller coaster ride, the likes of which wouldn't come close to anything at Six Flags Theme Park.

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Ocean's Twelve was written by George Clayton Johnson, Jack Golden Russell and George Nolfi and was directed by Steven Soderbergh. Typical of most caper films, this film has a unique collection of specialists, from the smooth and charismatic operator to the uptight safecracker to the young and naive pickpocket. This is a key point in the film and is integral for the success of the film, such as it is. This eclectic group of characters is incredible. These guys (and gals) are a funny and likeable group of miscreants. While most films contain the two or three requisite stars, one has to think back a number of years when such an assortment of huge names graced the screen for a single film. One would think that under all those egos, the film would be muddied or bogged down with everyone looking to place higher than the next in the pecking order. Not so here, which is remarkable considering who pops up. The entire cast seems to have shown up with a lessez-faire attitude keeping the mood extremely light which results in a film that (thankfully) doesn't take itself too seriously.

The film is a sequel to the 2001 version of the hugely popular, Ocean's Eleven. That film was a remake of the 1960 film which starred the Rat Pack. While I'm not necessarily a huge fan of remakes or sequels, these films aren't necessarily executed in the same vein as many remakes (or sequels). These are films with a unique and quirky flair, which in a weird sort of way pay homage to the many great caper films of the 50's and 60's. The picture is filled with enough irregularities and implausibility’s to put off any moviegoer, but it doesn't matter. The strength of the characters are great enough to not only keep our interest, but we cheer for them at the same time. As a result and to the film's strength and credit, less time is spent focusing on the heist itself, while the characters are clearly the highlight here.

I could see how many would feel the film is long at just over two hours (considering the plot is wafer thin) but there is a lot of ground to cover and a significant number of cast members to cover it. Also like the first film, Ocean's Twelve relies heavily on the dry and sardonic wit of its cast members. Most of these dry and snappy one-liners connect perfectly, as do the facial expressions which are timed to perfection. Above and beyond the obvious list of credited star appearances, there are even cameos used to reveal other cameos that'll trigger the "wow factor", but not in a distracting kind of way. Soderbergh doesn’t make the picture an easy one to follow as the entire film is told in a pseudo-semi documentary style which, chronologically, is all over the map - and it certainly does keep things interesting.

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The Feature: 3.5/5
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A difficult film to describe, to be sure. Presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, this film is probably best described as "erratic looking". Let me preface this by saying that I'm confident the oddities regarding the presentation are wholly representative of the theatrical showing and are stylistic decisions. Many scenes look absolutely incredible, while many had an overly processed look to them - just flat and lifeless.

Using sharpness as example, this varied from downright gorgeous to mediocre. Some of the facial close-ups are "count the pores on the cheek" type of detail, while others were unusually murky, with little, to no definition at all. It almost appears as though some of the sequences were shot using digital cameras - adding to the impulsiveness and quirkiness of the picture and no doubt adding to the spottiness of the appearance and overall presentation. Grain also appeared infrequently and sporadically throughout the film. There was a pleasing amount of depth and dimensionality however, it wasn't crushing.

Colors were vibrant and lush and the level of saturation was satisfactory - perhaps just teetering on being just slightly over saturated. Skin tones appeared slightly garish – slightly red. Black levels were adequate and whites were crisp and clean. It would appear as though filters were used as much of the film has a yellowish tint to it. Contrast was fine - however, some of the indoor scenes were perhaps just slightly on the dark side.

The image was absolutely rock solid and free of any shimmer or jitter. And as we would expect, the print was pristine and free of any dust, dirt or scratches.

Compression was handled perfectly as there were no issues relating to the authoring nor were there any signs of edge enhancement.

This is basically a strong effort and I'm sure the few issues I've pointed out were artistic decisions, however on the surface, the initial appearance isn't all that visually pleasing - thus my rationale for (still) awarding four stars.

Video: 4/5
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While not necessarily problematic, I was mostly underwhelmed with the DD 5.1 track on this disc. At times, the disc is slightly forward but never reaches beyond just an average track - especially in light of such a new and high profile release. What I found disappointing mostly, was the rather limited soundstage. You'll be hard pressed to find five minutes throughout this entire film where music isn't accompanying the picture (and great choices as well) in one manner or another and much of it sounds rather narrow, limited and lacking any sense of space.

The dynamics were satisfactory (in terms of doors slamming, action sequences etc.), but the bottom end is really lacking - the end result are effects that sound hollow with no oomph or depth whatsoever.

Dialogue was always exceptionally clear and bold. The track was crystal clean and free of any hiss or other noisy distractions.

The film begs for generous use of surround material but you won't find much of it here save for some music filler used to add a greater sense of envelopment - a missed opportunity to be sure. LFE isn't very prevalent either. Ironically the majority of LFE comes from the main menu on the disc. Other than the music that accompanies the dizzying blue laser scene, you'll be hard pressed to hear any other sub info.

This isn't a bad soundtrack nor is it a flawed soundtrack - it's just mediocre at best - barely. The music that was chosen to accompany the film is terrific but it sounds rather blasé.

Audio: 2.5/5
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Special Features:
Unfortunately, this disc comes with only a single special feature;
[*] The Theatrical Trailer is included which is in perfect shape. Duration: 2.16 minutes.

That's it - nothing else. A telltale sign of a potential special edition set…? Who knows, but one would think that considering how well these films did (Ocean’s Eleven has a fair amount of special features) and in light of the footage that must exist, the inclusion of only a single trailer has to mean something

Special Features: 1/5
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**Special Features rated for the quality of supplements, not the quantity**

Final Thoughts:
While not quite on par with the box office success of the first remake, Ocean’s Twelve still did comparatively well theatrically. Is Ocean's Twelve the best caper film ever? Not even close – in fact, it’s not supposed to be. Its entirely character driven and the plot is rather inconsequential. However, it is an engaging popcorn flick that’s sure to keep you and your loved one entertained on a Friday or Saturday night, and more importantly, one that never takes itself too seriously. And really, what more could one ask for? If you spent two hours with the predecessor and considered it "time well spent", I can’t imagine anyone being truly disappointed with Ocean’s Twelve. I mean, really, is there anyone who went into this not having a pretty good idea of what to expect? If, on the other hand, you're looking for a serious caper film, save your time and pick up The Asphalt Jungle or The Killing or Topkapi or.....

The material here really isn’t strong enough to merit a purchase recommendation although it is a fun little romp through Europe. The video presentation is mostly solid but the audio is underwhelming and the disc is basically devoid of any extras. However, if you are a fan of Danny Ocean and his band of interesting reprobates you'll probably want to take a look at Ocean's Twelve.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5 (not an average)
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Release Date: April 12th, 2005
My Top 25 Noirs:

25. 711 Ocean Drive (1950), 24. Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), 23. Desperate (1947), 22. Pushover (1954), 21. The Blue Dahlia (1946), 20. The File on Thelma Jordon (1949), 19. He Ran All the Way (1951), 18. The Asphalt Jungle (1950), 17. The Killing (1956), 16. I Walk Alone (1948),...

#2 of 35 OFFLINE   Paul_D



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Posted March 31 2005 - 08:31 PM

No extras!!!!!!..... this is very very strange for a Soderbergh flick. Usually a commentary is a dead cert!
[c]"Where did you take, this girl Jerry?"[/c]

#3 of 35 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted March 31 2005 - 09:43 PM

I'm going to pass on this dvd because the film was a big disappointment for me. IMO, the actors were going through the motions while enjoying the beautiful film locales. Also, not having any dvd extras is another reason for me to overcome my natural urge to buy dvds of even films I don't particularly care for.




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#4 of 35 OFFLINE   Joseph J.D

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Posted April 01 2005 - 01:13 AM

A trailer only?!!!!!.......I smell a special edition down the road. I'll pass. Darn it all too, as I really wanted to pick this one up. Well, at least I will save some money.
Recently watched- Love & Other Drugs, Assault On Precinct 13(1976), Lovejoy Christmas Specials, Die Hard 2: Die Harder, Die Hard, Up 3D, The Grandmaster, Edge Of Tomorrow 3D, The Comedy Of Terrors, The Raven(1963), Mulholland Falls, Saturn 3, Cheers: Season 6, Nosferatu: The Vampyre, Battle Beyond The Stars, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers(1978)

Currently watching- Planet Earth, True Blood: Season 2, Gatchaman: The Complete Series, The Equalizer: Season 2, Tales From The Crypt: Season 2, WKRP In Cincinnati: Season 1, Arrow: Season 2, Star Trek: Season 1
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#5 of 35 OFFLINE   ArthurMy


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Posted April 01 2005 - 03:12 AM

I watched the DVD the other night. I thought the transfer was nice, but nothing to write home about. I sort of enjoyed the first film, but thought this one was fairly routine and a bore. The whole Julia Roberts thing was so annoying and "cute" it gave me a headache.

#6 of 35 OFFLINE   Jordan_E



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Posted April 01 2005 - 03:42 AM

Rental, and then MAYBE a $10 used pickup down the road.
And you believe, at heart, everyone's a killer...

#7 of 35 OFFLINE   David Dias

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Posted April 01 2005 - 05:16 AM

A definite rental for me as well. I enjoyed several sequences in the film but felt a little underwhelmed as a whole. It sure deserves a second chance though.

#8 of 35 OFFLINE   Marc Colella

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Posted April 01 2005 - 06:48 AM

I wasnt a huge fan of the first one, but it had some fun moments.

The sequel was just lifeless.

It just sputtered along and how the scheme went down was pretty lame. I found the "Julia Roberts" scenario irritating as well.

I recommend not buying this blindly.

#9 of 35 OFFLINE   alan halvorson

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Posted April 01 2005 - 09:17 AM

I'll wait until the price is lowered to $7.50, which it inevitiably will be.
They're coming to take me away, ha-haaa!!
They're coming to take me away, ho-ho, hee-hee, ha-haaa To the funny farm. Where life is beautiful all the time and I'll be happy to see those nice young men in their clean white coats and they're coming to take me away, ha-haaa!!!!!
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#10 of 35 OFFLINE   Steve K.H.

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Posted April 02 2005 - 07:44 AM

this screams Rental - great review btw.
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#11 of 35 OFFLINE   Mike Wadkins

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Posted April 02 2005 - 09:37 AM

are the extras held over for hd-dvd
it is after all a launch title

#12 of 35 OFFLINE   Colin Jacobson

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Posted April 02 2005 - 12:01 PM

I sort of enjoyed the first film, but thought this one was fairly routine and a bore. The whole Julia Roberts thing was so annoying and "cute" it gave me a headache.

Yeah, it WAS cute, but I kinda liked it despite its preciousness. Honestly, it was the only time this bore came to life. I liked the first flick a lot, but this one was a snoozer...
Colin Jacobson

#13 of 35 OFFLINE   Steve Lockwood

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Posted April 12 2005 - 11:42 AM

With only a trailer, I will have to pass on this in hopes of an SE down the road.
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#14 of 35 OFFLINE   Jordan_E



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Posted April 13 2005 - 04:06 AM

Watched this mess last night and thought it was barely worth the price of a rental! And what was with that "Celebrity Poker" scene at the end?
And you believe, at heart, everyone's a killer...

#15 of 35 OFFLINE   Steve Tannehill

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Posted April 13 2005 - 04:43 AM

There are extras on a disc you can get attached to sales copies at Walmart.

For an extra $5.

- Steve

#16 of 35 OFFLINE   Mike Williams

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Posted April 13 2005 - 04:53 AM

The extra disc at Wal-Mart is only a 13 minute HBO Inside Look fluff piece -- hardly worth $5. A shame too, since the DVD Cover for the extra disc incorporates the original theatrical poster, which I like infinitely better than what they ended up using for the movie DVD.

#17 of 35 OFFLINE   EricW



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Posted April 13 2005 - 05:10 AM

i prefer the no-extras disc to a sub-par disc (feature-wise)... this way passive fans of the movie get the movie only at a cheaper price, and the super-fans pay the extra for the inevitable deluxe, and don't get caught double-dipping.
"now, if that's a fact, tell me... am i lying?"

#18 of 35 OFFLINE   Jonny P

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Posted April 13 2005 - 05:12 AM

Boy, some harsh critics here...

I thought that Ocean's 12 was fun. As a general rule, sequels don't generally hold a candle to the original. While the plot sort of "meandered" in this movie, I thought it was highly enjoyable.

I have no problem with people criticizing the lack of extras. That is disappointing. I dunno if they have anything planned in the future or not. I don't watch extras much, but it is "comforting" to know they are there...I suppose...

You go to see a movie like this for its good-looking cast. "Oceans 11" really didn't have the greatest plot in the world, either. It just seemed cooler because there was the big, high-tech vault and it seemed more "plausible" (even though it wasn't).

The weak link in the film is the "digital device" that was designed to present a "video image" of a piece of art that was supposed to "fool" everyone. That is where I personally had a hard time "suspending my disbelief" and buying into the concept. In my mind, that is what tarnishes the movie in the minds of moviegoers. That gimmick was way too far-fetched for a movie that is supposed to take place in 2004. In a futuristic movie, the audience might buy it, in this one "un-unh."

Otherwise, the movie was likable. The interactions with the principles in the cast was "amusing" and (I hate to use the term) "cute."

Part of me gets the sense that people wanted to "hate" this movie before they ever saw it. I had that impression when it was being released last year, and I get that impression now that it is being released on DVD.

I don't know if that has to do with the fact that it has George Clooney (whose career tanked after he became "political" a couple of years ago) or not. I suspect that might have something to do with it.

I have seen far worse sequels in recent years..."Be Cool"..."Legally Blonde 2"..."Bad Boys II"..."Terminator 3"...

#19 of 35 OFFLINE   EricW



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Posted April 13 2005 - 05:21 AM

it's much more difficult to manufacture "fun" the second time around... i really wanted to like O12, but like others my expectations were probably too high.
"now, if that's a fact, tell me... am i lying?"

#20 of 35 OFFLINE   Yumbo



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Posted April 13 2005 - 01:00 PM

T3 was fun with a killer soundtrack!