WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A group of thieves, con-men and other people of distasteful persuasion try to accomplish the impossible task of robbing three Las Vegas casinos of the little sum of $160 million dollars during a big fight night. Led by the charming Danny Ocean (Clooney) and the snacking Rusty Ryan (Pitt), the unlikely group devise a plan so cunning, so devious that even boy-genius Matt Damon (aka Will Hunting) himself has trouble figuring out!
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
You can look at this movie in two different ways. You can either compare it to its classic predecessor (starring cool guys Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin), or you can blank your memory and evaluate it on its own merit. Since I chose the latter, and since I'm always right, I suggest you look at this as its own piece of work. Despite its slowish beginning, this is a pretty good film. I hope that I don't have to go into explanations about the star-studded cast here, since anyone who lives within 100 miles of a movie theatre, television set, radio, newspaper or telegraph outpost has undoubtedly become familiar with this cast over the years. Clooney, Pitt, Damon, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia and many, many more are part of a great ensemble cast with incredible chemistry.
Now like I mentioned above, the beginning took me aback as I was expecting a bit more movement. Despite some extreme coolness by the main characters and some strange talking by Andy Garcia (will someone give this dude a lozenge!?!), it began with a lot of planning for the heist. Following that, there was some more planning and once they introduced all the players, they planned a bit more. Now I understand that a job like this needs a lot of planning, but I didn't really want to be a part of all of it. The action really begins once the crew hits the City of Sin and proceeds to turn Garcia's casino upside down. The heist itself was pretty cool although a bit too much reliance was placed on their gadgets and gizmos. One of the downsides of advancing technology is that screenwriters can now take a very easy way out of any situation by introducing some weird new gadget. Fortunately, this doesn't really drag the movie down as much as it allows it to keep moving at this accelerated pace. Any heist-movie fan will be curious to see this one.
The film also has a very slick look to it. From the good-looking cast to the cool costumes and from Las Vegas to Brad Pitt's haircut, nothing misses in this one in terms of style (except maybe for Bernie Mac's socks). Throw in Julia Roberts in an evening gown (I'd actually rather throw her OUT of the evening gown, but I digress), toss in some cool Chinese gymnastics and you'll end up with a good-looking movie that ends up saving itself from a boring first half.
A very decent offering of extra material is on this DVD, beginning with two feature-length commentary tracks. The first one features director Steven Soderbergh and screenwriter Ted Griffin. This is a very standard commentary track and they don't really stray very far off the well-beaten path of discussing little aspects of the movie, such as little anecdotes from a particular day on the set, some great idea they had and some flattering remarks to each other. One very interesting note is that right off the bat, they begin with a nice potshot at Warner Brothers and their contracts department. I wish they'd elaborated a bit more. Sounds like some ill-will there... The second commentary track is a bit more lively and features Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Andy Garcia. If you can figure out a way how this could not be cool, please let me know because I sure as heck can't. These guys are about as funny and witty as human beings can possibly be and this track is actually pretty insightful as well. They take some friendly shots at Clooney and all around just sound like a bunch of guys having fun watching a movie. It's a good thing that this is only an audio commentary as well because the combined good looks of these three guys would probably have blown up my TV.
Two HBO featurettes follow suit. The first one is a 15-minute Behind The Scenes bit. With the likes of Clooney and Pitt, you're once again assured of getting a bang for your buck! The feature includes cast & crew interviews with some fun insights on the film and its making. The rest of the crew also puts in their two bits and even though there's a bit too much back patting for my taste, it's a quick and easy watch. The second featurette is a 10-minute treat called "The look of Con". This discusses the slick look of the film through its costumes, sets, sceneries, etc. It's always nice to see Vegas in any light and this is actually more entertaining than most technical-type featurettes. I quite enjoyed it.
The rest of the stuff is pretty common: trailers and cast & crew filmographies. Nothing new but still nice to have. There are also some DVD-ROM features, including games and web links.
This movie had me shaking my head for the first half but came back with a vengeance a bit later on. Pretty fun to watch and despite the horror of Pan & Scan, I had a good time with it. The bonus features are also worthy and you'll surely enjoy renting this flick for an evening.