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Blu-ray Review HTF Blu-Ray Review: Ocean's Eleven, Ocean's Twelve and Ocean's Thirteen Giftset (1 Viewer)

PatWahlquist

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Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen Giftset (Blu-Ray)

Studio: Warner Home Video
Rated: PG-13 (some language and sexual content, sensuality)
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
HD Encoding: 1080p
HD Video Codec: VC-1
Audio: Ocean’s Eleven and Ocean’s Twelve: Dolby Digital: English 5.1, Francais 5.1, Francais 5.1 (Dubbed in Quebec), Espanol 2.0, German 5.1, Italian 5.1, Japanese 5.1; Ocean’s Thirteen: Dolby Digital: English 5.1, Francais 5.1 (Dubbed in Quebec), Espanol 5.1
Subtitles: Ocean’s Eleven and Ocean’s Twelve: English; Spanish; French; Danish; Dutch; Finnish; German; Italian; Japanese; Norwegian; Portuguese; Swedish. Ocean’s Thirteen: English; French; Spanish; Portuguese; Chinese; Korean.
Time: Ocean’s Eleven: 116 minutes; Ocean’s Twelve: 122 minutes; Ocean’s Thirteen:125 minutes
Disc Format: 1 each SS/DL Blu-Ray disc.
Case Style: Keep case
Theatrical Release Date: 2001, 2004, 2007
Blu Ray Release Date: November 13, 2007


Ocean’s Eleven
Danny Ocean (George Clooney) gets his parole and quickly figures out his next heist: he’s going to rob the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on a very busy fight night. He enlists another ten of his former partners, including Rusty (Brad Pitt) and others played by Matt Damon, Carl Reiner, Elliott Gould, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Scott Caan, Eddie Jemison, Shaobo Qin and Casey Affleck. Ocean lays out a plan to steal $150 million from The Bellagio, but the vault is 200 feet below ground and rigged with the finest, state of art security system. Danny has one other reason for wanting to hit the Bellagio: he’s got a beef with the hotel’s owner, Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) ever since Danny’s ex-wife, Tess (Julia Roberts) started seeing Benedict. Danny still professes to be married to Tess, but Tess reminds him she sent divorce papers to him while he was in prison. Danny moves forward with the daring heist relying on loyalties and betrayals to ensure his crew get away with the loot.

The charm and boozy swagger of the original comes across in director Steven Soderbergh’s update of the classic Rat Pack film. The movie relies heavily on its stars and their appeal to make it all work. The picture comes down to a pretty basic heist flick, but that minimal plot is greatly enhanced by the actors in the roles. Suspension of disbelief is necessary throughout (I’m sure it’s quite easy to steal a borderline nuclear device) but I really didn’t care too much about that. Soderbergh seems to have a blast on the picture as well, imprinting many of his signature shots and pacing techniques to make it as much his picture as the cast. When you see Soderbergh shooting his own picture in the bonus materials, you may wonder how this film-geek looking director got handed such a high profile picture. It is just that mentality that complements the script and actors to produce a fun and hip couple of hours.


Ocean’s Twelve
SPOILER WARNING: The synopsis of the next picture contains plot points about Ocean’s Eleven.

Terry Benedict is pissed. He’s lost $163 million to Danny Ocean and he wants his money back, with interest. He approaches each of the eleven giving them two weeks to give back the loot. Danny, Rusty and the others meet to try and figure out what to do seeing as each of them have spent a lot of their shares already. They are given one small job to raise the funds for a bigger one later on. As they break into a recluse’s townhouse to steal a historic document, they find someone beat them to it, the mysterious Night Fox. A tenacious, female Europol agent, Isabel Lahiri (Catherine Zeta-Jones) has been chasing the Night Fox for years. As she investigates this burglary, she also sees there was a second group of crooks, and she believes one of them was Rusty, her former boyfriend. Danny’s crew is challenged by Francois Toulour (Vincent Cassel) to get the Faberge Egg, simply to see who the better thief is. Toulour bets Danny he will get it and if he doesn’t, he will pay off Danny’s debt to Benedict. The chase is on as all parties involved are on a time table to best the other in order to save their lives.

I hadn’t seen this one prior to its video release. I do remember it took a pretty good beating by critics saying it lacked the charm of the original. Movies as distinctive as Ocean’s Eleven quickly become cherished by their audiences, and when it comes time for a sequel the scriptwriters find they have a difficult job. The script for Ocean’s Twelve was originally meant to be another picture (Honor Among Thieves), but it was modified to fit the needs of this production. The characters sometimes seem to be out of place in their own world, but this seeks to throw us off just as much so we feel their danger. Screenwriter George Nolfi and Soderbergh do an adequate job of giving us a fun, twisty heist flick but, unfortunately, without the “everything old is new again” feel of the first one. The introduction of Isabel almost makes this franchise look like it’s beginning to emulate the James Bond films with a different female lead with each picture. The technical aspects of the caper infringe upon Bond territory again (who knew you could lift a house that easily) and the heist itself is almost too clever for its own good. The sass of the characters and their interaction with each other still plays a central role here making it an enjoyable picture nonetheless.

Ocean’s Thirteen
Coming off the weak reception of the second picture, this third outing finds our group back in Las Vegas. Reuben (Elliott Gould) has suffered a heart attack since a sleazy Vegas hotel owner, Willy Bank (Al Pacino) has swindled him out of several million dollars. Reuben is comatose, and Danny and the crew come together to get back Reuben’s lost cash. Danny approaches Bank and gives him a chance to make it right, but Bank refuses. Danny and the group set in motion a plan that will destroy Bank and his casino on opening night. But all does not go well in the mechanical preparation of the plan, and the boys need to go to the only person that can give them the funds to continue: Terry Benedict. Benedict cannot abide his nemesis Bank, and he is more than willing to help Danny provided they can steal an important and valuable diamond collection as well. Danny and his group agree and the plan moves on, but old and new faces appear to hinder the caper, and the result may bring the plan crashing down on their heads.

As I said in my comments for Ocean’s Twelve regarding it straying into Bond territory, Ocean’s Thirteen takes a much bigger leap that way. The excess of Danny’s plan seems like something that would make a Bond villain rub his hands together and laugh maniacally over. The main thrust of the job is revenge for what happened to Reuben which violates the premise the crew kept in the previous pictures: act like you’ve got nothing to lose. While the same traits of the first two pictures are here, namely the banter and cohesion among the group, we are forced to watch boring subplots about a Mexican revolution and the randiness Bank’s assistant (dumbly played by Ellen Barkin). Pacino even seems to be phoning in his part, unsure of how to play it cool. The one consolation is Soderbergh’s direction and cinematography (he shot all three pictures under the alias of Peter Andrews) crackles with life, with its interesting framing, pacing and shot composition. Now that he’s done his big, Hollywood franchise piece, I look very forward to his next, smaller project. As for the franchise itself, its one of those I’m not going to miss in years to come, but I may go back and re-watch these pictures to remind me of Vegas’ yesteryear where a handshake from Sinatra meant something.


Video:
Note: I am watching this title using a Marantz VP 11-S1 DLP projector, which has a native resolution of 1080p. I am using a Sony Playstation 3 Blu-Ray player while a Denon 3808CI does the switching and pass through of the video signal. I am utilizing the HDMI capabilities of each piece of equipment.

All three discs are in the VC-1 codec in 1080p at an aspect ratio of 2.40:1. This is the first appearance of all three pictures in high def. The first disc looks spectacular with bold and lush colors throughout. Sharpness and detail is good showing off the detail in the hotel, the characters costumes and other set dressings. Black levels are excellent showing good depth and detail There was no edge enhancement noticed, but I did notice some compression artifacting if you got right up to the screen. This was not noticed from a normal viewing distance.

Ocean’s Twelve does not share the same aesthetic of the first picture, instead, abandoning the almost circus-like atmosphere of Las Vegas for the more real-world look of Europe. This disc looks good, but not a whole lot better from the standard def release. Colors are good throughout, but the overall color palate is muted. Soderbergh explains in his commentary that he used different film stocks for different scenes, even using an HD camera due to low light conditions, so that contributes to these variations. This disc is also grainier than its companions, causing a lesser amount of detail and sharpness. Black levels are good, but not quite as good as the first disc. I did not notice any edge enhancement or other video noise.

Ocean’s Thirteen returns us to Vegas and an onslaught of colors: rarely a scene goes by that does not have a slew of bold and bright colors. The Bank Casino sets are predominantly red, yellow and orange giving us a very rich, warm feel. The colors maintain their uniformity and boundaries, not bleeding over into one another. Flesh tones in this picture always seem to be yellow, most likely due to yellow gels and filters used while filming. Black levels are suitably deep with good shadow details and delineation. Ocean’s Thirteen will certainly give your video display’s colors a great workout! I did not notice any edge enhancement or other video noise on the disc either.


Audio:
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack was attained by the HDMI connection of the Sony Playstation 3 to the Denon 3808CI.

Warner’s really drops the ball on these releases by not giving us any lossless tracks on any of the discs. This is very surprising given the high profile nature of this release and it would have been a great opportunity to highlight improved audio. The Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are similar across all three discs. The action is kept in the front three channels with the surrounds coming to life infrequently for background noise, such as airplanes flying overhead at the end of the second disc. Bass is good, but the LFE’s don’t engage too often. ADR was noticed in each of the pictures, but it is not overbearing or obtrusive. The audio tracks are all clean, clear and precise and they do not suffer from any dirt or other problems. The fronts maintained good cohesion across each channel to provide an adequate soundstage.


Bonus Material:

Ocean’s 11 all of the extras are in standard definition:
Commentary by Matt Damon, Andy Garcia and Brad Pitt: the actors camaraderie on-screen comes through in the commentary. They have fun joking with each other and deliver a track that keeps you entertained.

Commentary by Director Steven Soderbergh and Screenwriter Ted Griffin: both participants seem to be fans of commentaries such as this and they do a great job detailing the film making process. They brought up some interesting points about dealing with eleven actors and giving them adequate screen time. This is the same commentary from the previous standard def release.

HBO First Look: The Making of Ocean’s 11 (15:01): cast and crew turn in a pretty standard quickie EPK piece.

The Look of the Con (9:40): a piece on the costuming and how it contributes to the overall aesthetic of the characters and picture.

Three Theatrical Trailers.


Ocean’s 12: all of the extras are in standard definition.
Commentary by Director Steven Soderbergh and Screenwriter George Nolfi: the guys jump right into it discussing how they adapted Honor Among Thieves, the script that became Ocean’s Twelve. Soderbergh explains his investment (creatively, not financially) in the pictures and how the sequels came about. Once you hear them explain some of their ideas about the story you get a better sense of the picture overall and for me it put it into a bit of a different light. Soderbergh and Nolfi even admit to being a little confused on who everyone is and how the story is held together.

Deleted Scenes (28:19): eighteen total scenes in all. Re-edits, extensions and different takes make for a great set of extras. In the feature itself, we see how Rusty first met Isabel in flashbacks. Here we see the scene as initially conceived with an incredible camera shot introducing us to Isabel. In watching these scenes, I get the impression Soderbergh may have had to make some editing choices to satisfy the studio. For once I can recommend the deleted scenes.

HBO First Look: Twelve is the New Eleven (13:02): much like the similar one on the first disc, but more snarky. The cast talks about how great it is to be them and in such a picture, while Pitt deadpans weak jokes. Where the first First Look at least tried to take itself and the picture somewhat seriously, this one plays into how great it is to be rich and famous.

Theatrical Trailers.


Ocean’s 13: all of the extras are in standard definition unless otherwise noted.
Commentary by Director Steven Soderbergh and Screenwriters Brian Koppelman and David Levien: the guys have some fun with the commentary layout then delve into how the picture evolved during filming. They also tend to bicker a lot, which can be fun. This is a good track that deals more with the technical side of the process, including writing, filming and editing.

Masters of the Heist: Recalling Real-Life Sophisticated Heists (44:01): this piece is similar to a History Channel show on the background of real life heists. It’s a filler piece, for sure, and not necessary viewing. Penn and Teller contribute, as well as law enforcement folks and casino employees.

Additional Scenes (4:36): in HD.

Vegas: An Opulent Illusion – Las Vegas’ Influential Design Sense (22:47): the psychology behind hotel and casino making is explored in this documentary. Casino and gaming employees as well as architects explain how lighting, positioning and other environmental factors play a role in taking your money.

Jerry Weintraub Walk and Talk (2:25): Weintraub takes on a tour of the Bank Casino set.


Conclusions:
At one point in Ocean’s Thirteen Danny and Rusty walk down The Strip and stop in front of The Bellagio to comment on how much Las Vegas has changed. This brief moment of melancholy also reminds us of the slick update to a somewhat classic picture. The original picture captured the right cast at the right time in the right place, and this trilogy of pictures does the same. Watching the movies individually over the past few years, you may think they’re stand alone stories, but in the context of all three together, you will get a much richer experience overall. Warner’s does a good job on the video portion of the discs, but leaves me steaming over no lossless audio. The commentaries by Steven Soderbergh are well worth your time, especially the one for the second movie. The rest of the extras don’t provide us with much new information.
 

Chris S

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I'm pretty sure I read that Clooney et al. said that Ocean's 13 be the last film and it does a pretty good job of wrapping up the series. Like you, as soon as I can find a good deal on this set I'll definitely be picking it up.o
 

Matt Butler

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I havent had a chance to watch everything but it is a nice set. I got it for Christmas.

Great review!
 

Osato

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Feb 7, 2001
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Tim
I just finished watching this one. I usually watch the trilogy once a year.

Is there a reason Warner used a 5.1 Dolby digital track instead of Dolby true HD???

Also...I have the soundtracks for all 3 films. I noticed several cues are missing from the first films soundtrack. Mainly the music when we see Tess for the first time. Also at the beginning of the film just after Danny's hearing. Odd!
 

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