A great cast, a director at the top of his game, a remake of a Frank Sinatra "Rat Pack" movie; how can things go wrong?
Ocean's Eleven marks Steven Soderbergh's latest film, his first since Traffic, which last year, along with Erin Brockovich, landed him a couple Best Director nominations, not to mention Best Picture nods as well. This time around, he isn't aiming for Oscar glory, but with the wave of stars that came pouring in with the script, Ocean Eleven is still going to be considered as one of the better movies of 2001. George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Andy Garcia, Julia Roberts, Sydney Pollack, Casey Affleck, and Scott Caan all have major roles in the film, and even the smaller roles contain familiar faces (a poker game in the beginning of the movie features many well-known young television actors). Don't think that these big names would jump on a movie just because of its director; the script helps just a little bit.
Ocean's Eleven isn't quite as funny as I expected, but it still has one of the smartest and wittiest scripts seen in a long while. The exchanges between Clooney and Pitt especially are terrific, but dialogue elsewhere is nearly flawless as well. Teamed with the direction of Soderbergh (who has yet, thankfully, established a single directing style... Erin Brockovich, Traffic, and now Ocean's Eleven all look quite different), the story unfolds in a crisp and intricate fashion, drawing entertainment from places that other directors would fail to tread upon. Ocean's Eleven uses some flashbacks but not abundantly many, and the way the movie skips from one scene to another is often quite interesting.
The only disappointing part of the whole film is Julia Roberts, the only woman who actually speaks and gets shown on camera at the same time, I think. It is not her as much as her character... If she shined in Erin Brockovich, then she is quite the opposite here; her character is bland and uninteresting, posing only as a weak bond between Ocean (Clooney) and the casino owner (Garcia). There isn't an interesting scene with her in it, and at the end, all things go to hell.
Ocean's Eleven takes a few minutes to get going, but once it does, the dialogue, the story, and everything else fits into place. In this case the cast do not make the movie, but they do highly compliment it.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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