Ocean's Eleven (2001) - Widescreen Edition

Genre(s): Action / Comedy / Crime / Thriller
Warner Brothers || PG13 - 117 minutes - $14.96 || May 7, 2002
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2004-05-10


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writer(s): Ted Griffin (screenplay)
Cast: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Andy Garcia, Scott Caan, Casey Affleck, Elliott Gould, Carl Reiner, Bernie Mac


Theatrical Release Date: December 7, 2001


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Director & Writer Commentary
  • Actors' Commentary
  • HBO First Look: Behind the Scenes
  • "The Look of the Con" Featurette
  • Theatrical Teaser and Trailers


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0), French (Dolby Digital 2.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English, French

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Despite the enormous amount of star power and a major plothole, I still find Ocean's Eleven to be one of the best heist movies of recent memory. I have now seen it, on TV and DVD, several times and the reason I enjoy so much is because it is a film you don't have to think about, you can sit, relax and just enjoy the show.

Original Review:
With Soderbergh's slick direction, some clever writing from Ted Griffin (with inspiration from the writers of the 1960 version) and the best cast ensemble of the year, Ocean's Eleven is a great caper movie that kept my attention 'til the end.

George Clooney stars in Ocean's Eleven as Danny Ocean, a con artist just released from prison and searches out for his partner in crime, Dusty Ryan (Pitt) who teaches how to play cards to young actors in Hollywood (some cameos by Topher Grace and Joshua Jackson). Danny tells Dusty his plan to rob three casinos in Las Vegas in one grab. The owner of the casinos, Harry Benedict (Garcia), stores the money in a bunker underneath his casino hotels. Together, Danny and Dusty gather a team of nine to pull off the heist with the financial backing of Benedict's casino rival, Ruben Tischkoff (Gould).

It would take too much time to go through each of the other gang, but the major players include: Roscoe Means (Cheadle), Linus Caldwell (Damon), Turk (Caan) and Virgil (Affleck) Malloy, Saul Bloom (Reiner), and Frank (Mac). Each member has a specific job, from playing a high roller to a blackjack dealer in one of the casinos.

The gang of eleven plan to hit the casinos on a major boxing night (between Lennox Lewis and Vladimir Klitschko, if you cared) where the vault would have more than $150 million in it. Add to the mix is Danny Ocean's ex-wife, Tess (Roberts; The Mexican) whose dating Benedict and causing a riff between Danny and Dusty for the reason to rob the casinos.

When you put an acting ensemble as this together and have the movie helmed by Oscar winning director Steven Soderbergh you get a winning combo that works through and through. Many films have tried to put together an ensemble cast but fail because of a poor plot and/or screenplay and the director trying to give each cast member their due screentime to develop their characters. With 11, the actors are so good and the main characters played by George Clooney and Brad Pitt are really the only ones who need a good amount of development with the rest needing just a taste of where they come from and who they are. I wanted to also point out Carl Reiner who did his best work in a while and deserves much recognition over his career and who showed us he still has what it takes.

Behind the scenes, aside from director Soderbergh, is screenwriter Ted Griffin. Griffin put together a nice screenplay that fits Soderbergh's vision like a glove. He took a basic heist premise and threw in great twists that will surprise some who are willing to go into the film looking for a good time, rather than analyzing every aspect as if it were touted as an Oscar contender. As a critic, I don't want to even hint what the twist is and leave to you to see it either in the theater or at the very least on video.

The score for Ocean's Eleven was composed by David Holmes, who also composed the music for Out of Sight, which explains why I instantly recognized it when the film began. Holmes' score has a 60's tang to it that give the film a unique and memorable look.

Lastly, Steven Soderbergh handled not only the directing but also the cinematography under the pseudonym of Peter Andrews. Soderbergh has quickly risen to be one of the best directors of our time giving each of his film's its own texture and turning any script into a masterpiece.

Having never seen the original version of Ocean's Eleven, I could not tell you whether it was better or if the remake was even needed. Overall Ocean's Eleven is not the best film Soderbergh has done (how could one surpass Traffic?) but it has a great leading man in Clooney and a superb ensemble cast with Roberts, Garcia, Pitt, Cheadle and many more.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

I'm torn when it came to the special features. As usual Warner Brothers gives us a lacking disc that not even commentary can compensate. I don't know, maybe WB is planning on a two disc ultimate edtion- but for now we have this one.

The best of the features are two commentary tracks, the first from Steven Soderbergh and screenwriter Ted Griffin. Soderbergh has the same humor you'll find in Traffic- Criterion Collection but this time his sidekick is Griffin. The two recall script changes, shutting down th casino do this or that scene, how hard a shot was to do and the best of all, both admit the big plot hole concerning the bags of fliers toward the end. My one complaint is Soderbergh mentions several times about deleted scenes that could've been included on this DVD! Why not? Anyways, the other commentary comes from stars Matt Damon, Andy Garcia and Brad Pitt who all seemed to have a good time. The trio joke throughout and of course compliment each other and Soderbergh. They talk about the camera shots, banter Clooney a little- overall just a guys night out.

The other features are your typical documentaries. First up is HBO First Look: The Making of Ocean's Eleven the typical 15 minute documentary that comes with just about every DVD (some are from Showtime or Cinemax or even Starz!- they're all the same). This one gives you interviews and the such which by now really don't care about too much. The next documentary is The Look of the Con which you can guess is about Soderbergh's camera style and the dress styles of the cast members. Soderbergh explains how he wanted to keep it away from the 1960s Sinatra version. Also the stylist and costume designer makes an appearance. The 10-minute featurette is not worth the time to watch and is waste to place on this disc.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Steven Soderbergh once again gives us some great music and sounds that come out clearly on the Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound.I couldn't find anything wrong with it. Like Traffic, Soderbergh does a great job in giving each of his films their own visual character. Here he uses bright and flashy colors. Again, it looks great.



.::OVERALL::.

If not for a classy cast and slick direction by Steven Soderbergh, this film could've been a turkey. Fortunately with Soderbergh and all the stars he brought in, it is one of the best surprises of 2001. The DVD is good but like Warner Bros. track record, they fall way short of a great DVD package. I liked the commentary from Damon, Garcia and Pitt and would listen to it again and Soderbergh and Griffin's track ain't too bad- but the rest could be scrapped. I only wish they would've included some deleted scenes.