Ocean's Thirteen- BRD
(Steven Soderbergh, 2007)
Studio: Warner Pictures (USA) / Warner Home Entertainment (USA)
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
Feature film: 1080p
Supplements: HD (1080i or 1080p) and SD (480i or 480p)
English DD 5.1
French: DD 5.1 (dubbed in Quebec)
Spanish: DD 5.1
English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Portuguese
• Commentary by Director Soderbergh and Writers Brian Koppelman &David Levien
• Featurette: Producer Jerry Weintraub takes us on a casino tour
• Featurette: Vegas: An Opulent Illusion
• Featurette: Masters of the Heist: Recalling Real-Life Sophisticated Heists
• Additional Scenes in HD
Standard Blu-ray case: 1 disc
Release Date: November 13th, 2007
Ocean's 13 ~ Comment
As heist films go, the Ocean's franchise is harmless and entertaining. More than in the previous two films, the chances for someone to get hurt or killed are raised, along with the stakes. That there is no rough stuff is a real challenge, not only to bring off a complicated heist under such constraints, but that such a movie could make money in this day and age where sex, violence and bathroom humor rules. We should be grateful for that at least.
One of my complaints about the Ocean's 11 remake was that the romantic angle felt superfluous. Mercifully, there is no such distraction in the latest. In fact, we get right down to organizing the con/heist almost from the first frame. Soderbergh is good at parceling out what he wants his audience to know and what he doesn't. This is the key to any good heist or big con film. The audience needs to know enough to keep them just ahead of the mark, but not so much that suspense is compromised or that we get no surprises. This is what made The Sting the quintessential big con, where there are several threats against the protagonists: Johnny Hooker has an unknown assassin on his tail (with whom he spends a night) plus the police, and Gondorff has the Feds on his. Miraculously, mercurially, we are taken in just as is the mark. There's a touch of that in Ocean's 13, and thanks to The Sting most of us can see it coming, but that doesn't ruin the fun. Special high marks to Ellen Barkin as Pacino's right hand woman with a soft spot for Matt Damon – well, not so much Damon, as his perfume. Barkin's seduction is a comedy of misplaced priorities run amuck.
Now that the team has expanded to 13 (not that anyone is counting), some of them get short shrift. Don Cheadle is wasted digging a tunnel for much of the movie. On the other hand, Gould gets considerable mileage out of remaining catatonic. Up and coming Casey Affleck (the smarter brother) has more to do, and he does it well. I'm not sure about Bernie Mac – he's never quite got his hook in me. I loved Andy Garcia's final scene, but most of the time, he looks constipated. The bit with Oprah and Clooney is awesome. Elsewhere, Clooney does what he's expected to do, though he strikes me as a bit dispassionate; Pitt also seems a little tranquilized, as does Pacino, which, in his case, can only be a good thing. I loved Pacino when he and Gould were sorting out the new partnership:
Reuben (Gould): So... where's the partner's desk gonna be?
Bank (Pacino): Oh, there is no partner's desk, Reuben. You're out.
Reuben: What? . . . Are you gonna throw me off the roof?
Bank: Well, I don't want to.
Ocean's 13 ~ The Score Card
The Movie : 7
The excuse this time is that Reuben (Elliott Gould) has been summarily dropped out of the partnership deal with the omnivorous hotel tycoon, Willie Bank (Al Pacino). Reuben reminds him that "we both shook Sinatra's hand!" to which Bank indicates a willingness to not get in the way of personal violence if he doesn't accept the buy out. This is about as close to actual violence that Ocean's 13 gets. For instead of getting tossed off the roof, Reuben ends up in the hospital with a self-induced fit of apoplexy. His gang hovers around discussing alternative ways to get even. Naturally, Bank has employed the latest and greatest security measures for his casino, including a surveillance system that can tell if a gambler has come by their winnings "honestly" or as the result of a con, much as if it were a remote lie detector.
Ocean's team finds it more difficult than usual to exploit loopholes. They buy off key persons on both sides of the gambling tables, and even go so far as to infiltrate the dice manufacturing plant in remote Mexico. To manage the operations in his Casino, Bank relies heavily on Abigail Sponder, a woman with extraordinary clarity about her job. Rusty (Matt Damon) believes he can get to her bio-chemically, which has much needed, though unexpected, humorous consequences.
Image : 6 (5~8/???)
I admit to being in the dark here as this DVDs resemblance to the theatrical experience, which is too bad because I have no idea if this image is supposed to look this way. It certainly looks strange, though. The score of 6 indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray DVDs. The score in parentheses represents: first, a value for the image in absolute terms; and, second, how that image compares to what I believe is the current best we could have expected in the theatre – thus, the ???.
I suppose in keeping with the carnival environment that is unique to Las Vegas, the color & contrast scheme of this movie, and this DVD, is as varied as the rides at an amusement park. The default is over-the-top saturation and contrast plus some added noise here and there. Blacks block up very quickly as there is little discrimination between various levels. It is very important that one not rush to the video displays to try to "correct" for whatever the hell you think the color ought to be. Even if you find a happy medium in one scene, the next will be different – so you'd better have it right to start with (not that these screenshots tell the real truth about the image, try as I might to be faithful to it. ) That said, there are moments of reasonable clarity and sharpness alternating with others of a blush of color in high grain or neon or blown-out high level information. It's all very surreal and, on balance, not much of a good time as far as the image is concerned.
Audio & Music : 7/7
In a character and plot-driven film such as this, it is most important that the dialogue be clear, especially in that our trusted group of perpetrators, not that they're going to give away any secrets. At the same time there are a casino full of casino noises – you know, that clinking, clanking sound we would all like to know better, alternating with decks of cards shuffling, dice rolling, roulette wheels wheeling, and crowds of all sizes gathering round or winning or losing. It's a pretty good mix and challenging one to boot.
Operations : 7
I continue to appreciate Warner Home Video's avoidance of pre-feature ads so that we can get directly we get right to the business at hand. Once again, another Spartan and completely uninspired menu design. Lots of chapter stops though, as is typical with Warner Blu-rays, the slightly expanding thumbnails are not titled.
Extras : 6
The studio provides an informative and entertaining running commentary (which, by the way, is not present on the SD edition.) There are a couple of self-promoting featurettes advertising Las Vegas (as if it needed more promotion), and an enjoyable 45 minute documentary that examines the methods of an actual successful heist. Clever idea to include this.
Recommendation: 5For those addicted to the series, this installment should present a real quandary. Rent before you buy.
November 10th, 2007
Enter the Dragon