ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  steven soderbergh

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  comedy

LENGTH  -  127 minutes

RELEASED  -  7 december 2001

DISTRIBUTOR  -  warner bros.

OFFICIAL SITE  -  ocean's eleven

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $85,000,000
ocean's eleven - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from ocean's eleven at

buy the dvd from ocean's eleven at

danny ocean is a man of action. less than 24 hours into his parole from a new jersey penitentiary, the wry, charismatic thief is already rolling out his next plan: knocking over a casino.

george clooney also begins the film in prison in out of sight and o brother, where art thou?.


picture from ocean's eleven

picture from ocean's eleven

picture from ocean's eleven


three out of four possible stars

This film is the best advertisement for a "fun at the movies" marketing campaign. Though it doesn't have that much drama in it, the film sets up a good cast for an entertaining movie. Most of the time, I'm a die-hard critic of re-makes. If it ain't a bad film, don't remake it. But Steven Soderbergh seems to have accomplished the impossible: an entertaining film that doesn't really need to be compared to the original. Don't get me wrong, nobody can replace Frank, but the casting directors for this film did a good job of creating some good chemistry between all these big name stars.

Though I suspect George Clooney would look good on screen with a stop sign. And although Julia Roberts doesn't make a huge impact in this film (she plays clooney's ex-wife), Clooney is able to take up the slack. A note on the large cast, because this film has so many major roles, it seems a miracle that Soderbergh was able to get so many good performances out of his actors for this film. I feel that this has to do both with the casting, and his directing ability. By placing people in this film who are great at what they do, Soderbergh is assured at getting at least a few entertaining parts to this film.

Of course, it seems like he was especially lucky this time. It should be pointed out that the films in Soderbergh's repertoire have been one of two types. They've either been independent (like Sex, Lies, and Videotape and The Limey) or films with a conscience (like Erin Brockovich and Traffic). Ocean's Eleven is neither. It's a caper movie with no conscience in sight and enough big stars to warrant a large marketing campaign. And although the headliners of this film all took pay cuts (oh, those poor, sad multimillionaires) to work with Soderbergh, the amount of marketing that went into this film certifies it as a true blockbuster, worthy of the hollywood stamp.

But this film has done a good job of straddling the line between true Hollywood commercialism and small film creativity. It might be the large amount of shots in the film made with a hand-held camera, or Soderbergh's propensity towards documentary-like filmmaking. Whatever the reason, the filmmakers have done a good job of creating a film that doesn't smack of "Arnold." You could say that this film is an endorsement for remakes, being that it's almost an improvement on the original film. Sure, the original had a bunch of big name stars, but really, that was its only main draw. This film has the added bonus of having a story that hums along at a good clip.

It's over two hours long, but aside from a somewhat slow beginning, this film takes off at a run. Perhaps it was the large cast that allowed the film not to get boring, or maybe it was the way the story was edited together and paced, but I feel that the combination of these elements made up a movie that won't be getting a lot of ass wiggle. That entertainment factor is also due in part to the comedic abilities of the cast. Rather than the script itself, it was the interaction between the actors that allowed this film to be so entertaining. A particularly humorous element that caught my eye was that Brad Pitt's character was eating in every scene in the film except for one.

And it was always some kind of valve-stopper too. Like a cheeseburger or some kind of food dripping with fat. This small element to the film was not required by the plot, and was just an added touch that made the film more than just a straight heist movie. One of my only criticisms for this film would have to deal with the way the characters are introduced, really the first half-hour or so of the film. Remember in Armageddon how the film introduced characters for about a half an hour, telling the audience of their specialty and whatever quirks made that character interesting?

Well, the same thing happens in Ocean's Eleven. Though in this film, it kind of drags the pace down. All eleven of the players involved in Danny Ocean's casino heist are introduced individually and although some of the incidents introducing these characters are humorous, the plot kind of stalls while all these introductions are being made. Again, this isn't a fatal flaw, and the plot does pick up and start running at a good clip after that sequence, but I can't help feeling that the filmmakers could have kept the movie running along, even while they were introducing the cast.

Or perhaps they could have made the introductions a little shorter. After all, the audience gets to know these characters for an additional one and a half hours, so introducing them all fully at the beginning kind of seemed repetitive. Slowness aside, the range of different characters in the film made for a good variety. I think that the reason this film seemed to move so quickly after those initial introductions, is because the film had so many different personalities intersecting. Lots of variety and some good chemistry between the cast made for an entertaining bit of casino robbing.

A move though that I did not quite understand was making Don Cheadle's character a British man. He flashed this same lower-class london accent around in Rush Hour 2, and it didn't quite make sense in that film either. Perhaps Cheadle is an Anglophile or something, but he seems to have a penchant for putting on the accents for his films. Though it should be said that his accent was pretty much on target. So to sum up here, it seems that a good casting is the main element responsible for allowing this re-make to become a successful film.

Rather than trying to make an exact copy of the original, or trying to create a "new re-imagining" of the first one, Soderbergh has taken a pretty good story and plunked it down in the year 2001, with some good results. There aren't any real groundbreaking elements to this film, but the several quirky character attributes (like Brad Pitt's eating in every scene) combine to make this film a very enjoyable two hours. After the ball gets rolling, you'll forget about looking at your watch, and will be able to enjoy a responsibility-free movie that doesn't require you to think about anything more serious than whether or not you'd like butter on your popcorn.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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