“Ocean’s 8” Movie Review

Nothing like watching a bunch of really beautiful people pulling off a seemingly implausible heist for about 2 hours. There are probably a billion better ways to spend an afternoon, but this one doesn’t so bad at all. Produced on a budget of $70 million, this crime caper comedy was released worldwide on June 8th, 2018, grossing over $244 million at the box office so far. This is helped by a wave of surprisingly favorable reviews for the film, becoming something of a sleeper hit for many. Directed by Gary Ross, who previously helmed the first installment of The Hunger Games, Steven Soderbergh vowed for a good number of years that Ocean’s Thirteen would be the last film in the series. However, he did approve of a female-led spin-off starting in October of 2015. Soderbergh remained onboard as a producer, while Matt Damon reprised his role in a scene that was ultimately cut from the final product. Sandra Bullock stars as Debbie Ocean, the late Danny Ocean’s younger sister, and a professional con artist like her sibling. Following her release from prison, Debbie and her best friend/partner-in-crime Lou, played by Cate Blanchett, plan on stealing a valuable necklace worth $150 million at the annual Met Gala in New York City. In order to pull it off, they recruit 5 other female criminals, each with a different, specific area of expertise, to help realize the plan. But one thing stands in the way: the necklace is being worn by celebrity guest Daphne Kluger, who is almost impossible to trick. So Ocean’s Eleven is genuinely one of my favorite crime movies from the 2000’s. It would probably never appear on any “Best of all time” lists or be seen as a cinematic masterpiece, but it does serve as a nice round of undemanding escapism that oozes so much confidence and charisma. Truth be told, I wasn’t all that interested in seeing a spin-off of any kind, especially because the two sequels, Twelve and Thirteen, were pretty underwhelming. I enjoyed the first Hunger Games movie but was frequently annoyed by its poor direction and horrendously shaky camera. That being said, I found myself drawn to the theater, probably because Steven Soderbergh still had involvement in the production. There’s also just something oddly appealing about watching a lot of stars I love playing criminals with hearts of gold while looking pretty. And that’s more or less what one can expect from Ocean’s 8, which yet again provides some effortless entertainment to spare. However, I’m not very convinced that this film actually had to be connected to the Ocean‘s franchise in any way, shape, or form. With a talented ensemble and crew working together at this level of skill, it could have easily been a completely brand new, female-fronted I.P. for Warner Bros. The fact that Debbie is the younger sister of George Clooney’s character doesn’t really have a big effect on the storyline at all. The only exceptions are a few scenes mentioning it in passing as well as both Elliot Gould and Shaobo Qin briefly reprising their small roles in certain moments. Aside from that, it kind of feels like a forced form of brand recognition in an effort to bring bigger bucks from audiences. In the end, it just seems a little bit smug of the studio to slap the name on the title. But that’s not to say the leading ladies don’t make it fun to watch; they really prove their worth. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Sandra Bullock, but I’m happy to report that she’s great in here. She’s almost natural at being a con artist, as it’s often hard to tell whether she’s acting genuine or has something else up her sleeve. Meanwhile, Cate Blanchett, fresh off being the Competition Jury President at this year’s Cannes, puts in smooth work as her partner-in-crime. Right at home with her native Australian accent, she’s arguably the slipperiest and hardest of the group to pin down. The other team members are played by Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Awkwafina, and Sarah Paulson, each of whom are clearly having fun in their roles. Anne Hathaway plays Daphne Kluger, and she seems strangely made for the part. Beautiful but airheaded, it feels reminiscent of her early roles in films like The Devil Wears Prada. It’s all capped off by a number of cool celebrity cameos at the Met Gala that I’m not even gonna try and name off. And while Gary Ross may not have the same skills as Soderbergh, he still demonstrates wonderous technical proficiency with the heist. The cinematography by Eigil Bryld, mostly known for work in indie productions, makes crime in New York look very handsome and smooth. Although it’s in danger of being glossy at times, it still manages to capture all of the leading ladies and various other celebrities at the Met Gala in all their gorgeous outfits, especially at nighttime. Meanwhile, the editing by Juliette Welfling keeps the pacing aloof and allows for some interesting cuts and contrasts between moments. When the heist itself goes down, the way the camera moves from different perspectives, sometimes ones simultaneously. It keeps the tension up high enough to retain the attention of audience members throughout the 110 minute-long runtime. Despite that tension, though, you know pretty much exactly how the story is going to go down. As with the previous Ocean’s movies, as well as as 2017’s Logan Lucky, it follows almost all of the familiar beats that one could expect from these types of films. Again, had it been an original film rather than a continuing franchise, it probably would have been a lot better and more dynamic. But yet I reiterate, it’s still able to provide some nice entertainment. Ocean’s 8 is a wholly unnecessary but effortlessly charming caper. While it plays things a little too safe for its own good, if you just want to watch a movie that completely takes your mind off of any real-world stress or activities, this is a good start to that. One thing’s for sure, though: I still don’t really understand the appeal of high fashion. Sorry.

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