December 9, 2010

Blu-ray Review: Ocean's 11 - 50th Anniversary Edition

I have been struggling with this movie for days. Not because I don't know how to write about it, well maybe a little. The struggle comes from the fact that I do not particularly care for the movie. As I watched it in chunks over the course of a few days I often found myself wondering why it has built up this cache of cool over the decades. Well, I did not wonder for long as the answer is pretty simple: the cast. That's right, when you have the first ever rat pack movie it is going to be remembered for that more than anything else. Pair it up with the Steven Soderbergh helmed remake in 2001 and you have a remake that surpasses the original. Of course, it could also just be me.

Ocean's 11 is a case where the cast eclipses the movie. The fact that the entire rat pack appear in this movie together seems to be enough to keep it on people's minds, with a little help from said remake (which also has a certain cool factor with its cast of stars). There was a time when you couldn't be cooler than these guys. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop, along with many others, hold court on the big screen for two hours. Yes, there is a certain cool to them, but I have to wonder how much better it could have been.

The story is a simple one. Danny Ocean (Sinatra) and Jimmy Foster (Peter Lawford) bring together a group of old army buddies to pull off the biggest heist in the history of Las Vegas. They intend to rob five casinos on the strip at midnight on New Year's Day. A big job to be sure, but they have the smarts to do it.

The first hour of the film is just the group getting together for the job. They aren't even really planning it yet. Then when the heist starts to come together the movie the movie threatens to become interesting, but it doesn't last long. The heist is pulled off rather simply and then we sit through them trying to get the money out of town.

If there is one thing I do like about the movie, it is the ending. No, not because it meant the movie was done, but for what happens. I must give them credit for going that route, it actually caught me off guard and is, frankly, a great reveal and a different way to end the movie. The other bit I liked was Sammy Davis Jr. singing the song "E-O-11." It is quite catchy and is used in various ways throughout the film.

Still, I am not sure it is worthy to sit through the movie just for that. It is not that it is poorly made, it has a nice look, the performances generally work, but everything moves in slow motion and I just could not care. I cannot believe this drags out for just more than two-hours.

I respect the fact that there are a lot of people who like this movie, but I just can't get into it. It is a marathon when there should have been a little sprinting involved.

Audio/Video. The image is presented in the original 2.4:1 ratio and looks decent. It is definitely a step up from a DVD transfer but it does not look as good as it probably could. It looks a touch soft and the colors don't really pop. Detail is decent and there is film grain evident, so it still looks like you're watching a film, which is a good thing. As for the audio, the DTS-HD mono track does the job. The dialogue is always crisp and clear. It does the job while not really standing out.

Extras. The extras are carryovers from the prior DVD edition and are just as underwhelming as the movie is.
  • Commentary. The track features Frank Sinatra Jr. and Angie Dickinson, recorded separately. Now, if you were looking for a way to make the movie even more dull, try it with this on.
  • The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson (Frank Sinatra as guest host). This is a four minute clip of rather poor quality. The clip has Sinatra interviewing Angie Dickinson. I guess they have no qualms about giving up spoilers. Be warned, this clip gives you the ending.
  • Tropicana Museum Vignette. Why? This runs less than two minutes and just seems like a tacked on clip.
  • Las Vegas Map. This is a representation of the map Danny Ocean uses to show the casinos. Click one and get a clip about the casino. meh.
  • Trailers. Two original trailers are included to round out the set.

Bottomline. There were years when I looked at the DVD release on the shelf with intentions of picking it up, sure I would like it. For one reason or another I never did. Now that I have seen it there must have been something in my subconscious that knew I would be disappointed. The movie is dull, the release is all right, and I doubt I will be revisiting it again any time soon.

Not Recommended.

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Article first published as Blu-ray Review: Ocean's 11 - 50th Anniversary Edition on Blogcritics.


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