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Ocean's Eleven

Ocean's Eleven

It's rare that a movie leaves you feeling as good as you feel after watching Ocean's Eleven.

It follows the adventures of Danny Ocean and his ten helpers as they rob three Las Vegas casinos simultaneously. The team includes Mr. Ocean himself (George Clooney), his best friend (Brad Pitt), the rookie (Matt Damon), the veteran (Carl Reiner), the brothers (Casey Affleck and Scott Caan), and a few select others who don't have the same star power.

Ocean's goal is to rob the casinos owned by Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), and win back his ex-wife (Julia Roberts).

The movie is not so much about will they do it, but about how they will do it. It's smart, funny, witty, suave, and very entertaining.

When you look at the film for sheer entertainment value, there's nothing at all wrong with the picture. Ted Griffin's script is so clever, it even pokes fun at its own cliches. And you can't argue with a cast this great, especially when they're having so much fun. I even have to admit that Julia Roberts -- as much as I dislike her -- was perfect for her role. Clooney carries the film like a true movie star, Pitt shows why he's one of my favorite actors, Garcia was robbed of an Oscar nomination (editor's note: well....), and Damon proves he's the more talented half of the Damon-Affleck combo. The entire supporting cast is also excellent, particularly Don Cheadle.

I had my doubts about Steven Soderbergh directing the film. He directed two films in 2000 that I hated (Traffic and Erin Brockovich), so I was very worried. But he proves here that the dual Oscar nominations and major recognition didn't prevent him from having a bit of fun. I think his work on this film is nothing short of brilliant.

Although I thought Lord of the Rings was more deserving of the title of "Best Movie of the Year," Ocean's Eleven has an advantage in that it's the kind of film you can watch every day and not get sick of.

Ocean's Eleven wants nothing more than to entertain you, and it does so without breaking a sweat. To me, it's the most enjoyable and re-watchable flick to come out since Fight Club.

And now a word from the editor: Ocean's Eleven is a good film and a lot of fun, but it pales in comparison to the original Rat Pack outing, especially in its ending which (as Rat Race did to It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World) was lame in comparison.

Warner's effort on the DVD is both commendable and disappointing. I'll start off by mentioning the box. The art on the front cover doesn't do the film any justice, and actually makes it look pretty bad. The original theatrical poster would have been perfect. The description of the movie on the back is also pretty sad, looking as if it was written by someone who hasn't even seen the movie.

But now, on to the DVD itself.

The picture quality, presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, looks a little bit old. However, whereas that would be a drawback for most DVD's, it actually works very well for Ocean's Eleven. It's a bit grainy in several parts, but I found it kept with the style of the film. I doubt it was intentional (listen to Soderbergh's commentary and you'll see what I mean), but I actually liked it.

The audio track, which is a 5.1 Dolby Digital one, is not as good as I was hoping for. Of course the prize of the film is the dialogue, and so more than the front channels are not really needed. But there is some music and sound effects (and yes, some dialogue) that would have worked really well through the rear speakers. But for what we get, it isn't bad. Besides, even if it had been the worst audio transfer in history, it wouldn't have made me love the film any less.

The extras on the disc start out with two audio commentaries. The first is by director Steven Soderbergh and writer Ted Griffin, and it's a pretty good track. The two enjoy the film and have a good sense of humor, and it was interesting to hear what they had to say. The real treat, however, is the second commentary by Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Andy Garcia. This is the kind of commentary I love, where it's all about fun. The three make fun of Clooney quite a bit (which is fine), and it's clear they had a great time making the film and watching it. Many commentaries can get too boring and too technical, so this was a nice treat.

Other extras include a 15 minute HBO First Look Special, a 10 minute costume featurette, and three theatrical trailers.

I love this movie, and a better DVD would have been nice, but I'm happy enough just to have it in the collection.

Ocean's Eleven, from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
116 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) 16x9 enhanced, 5.1 Dolby Digital
Starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts
Produced by Jerry Weintraub, Screenplay by Ted Griffin
Directed by Steven Soderbergh


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Updated May 13, 2006