Gary Ross’ Ocean’s 8 isn’t something to write home about, but it’s a solid heist film that manages to be a just way to conjure up the Ocean’s brand from the grave. Being a lighthearted heist film that mostly stands on its own, it’s a movie that isn’t exactly a great time, but one that with some fine tuning might make a successful sequel with the people involved.
Director Gary Ross has had a largely triumphant career with titles such as the original Hunger Games and Seabiscuit; however, with Ocean’s Eight he has lost some acclaim yet still manages to stays afloat. He operates with a directing style that doesn’t stand a chance against the likes of Soderbergh (Ocean’s Eleven), but takes strong inspiration from the prior entries. After a rough start, layered with a familiar format, the film’s editing goes from nostalgic fun to an annoying overabundance of callbacks to the original trilogies’ editing.
The idea of Ocean’s 8 actually being a follow up to the Soderbergh series is a clever decision instead of being a complete reboot with no recollection of the previous films. Olivia Milch’s script has the heist not taking place in the usual location of a Vegas casino and instead goes for the Met Gala, while having the leads planning the steal of a piece of jewelry valued at $150 million. The plot, beyond the location change, is much like the other Ocean’s films. It is eerily similar, but after eleven years the format is a refreshing revitalisation of the usual format, and a welcome return. Unfortunately the surprises are minimal because almost every choice the film makes has occurred somewhere else in the series. It is also worth noting that the first half of the film is an utter mess, being a completely confusing build up to the formation of the crew, before switching into a fun heist film that does in fact follow the format of the original films. For Milch’s second screenplay after Netflix’s horrible Dude, the film is a massive improvement in almost every way, but still can’t manage to live up to the others.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
The trailer was misleading in the best possible way, making many of the leads appear as if they are providing their usual obnoxious acting personas to their Ocean’s 8 characters. Gary Ross did a great job bringing all the eccentric actors down to a realistic and likable level, which is really impressive when reflecting back on recent films starring Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, and Awkwafina. Every actor involved did a great job with their respective roles, but none really stood out as anything above Danny Ocean’s original crew. I have almost no complaints when it comes to the casting after watching the film all the way through, and there were some shocks along the way with how good James Corden was, along with the target, Anne Hathaway. The inclusion of a few original cameos was a welcome addition; even if they held no real necessity to the overall story, the presence of them alone was smile worthy.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
A weak score resides behind a decently edited feature, taking influence from the prior entries, while appearing to distance itself. It all absorbs into the story, never taking the forefront and becoming instantly forgettable. It succeeds with the licensed lyrical songs the film properly takes a hold of, although none of the instrumentals fully capture the beauty that is the Ocean’s fountain scene. The times that succeed manage to utilize songs in order to provoke emotions to rise out of the audience. Also, on a personal note, it’s been six years since The Black Keys’ Gold on the Ceiling has been used in a feature film and I was delighted to hear it fit so well in Ocean’s 8 - a fitting return to a great song.
The Met Gala appears impressive, showing dresses and jewelry on display in great fashion. The necklace that takes center stage is a beautiful and shiny relic that matches with the processed fake almost perfectly. The costume design for the Gala is well thought out and reflects the sort of people who attend such an event; even the eight leads show a distinct style to match all of their personalities.
The closure the audience is given isn’t as well received as both the fountain scene from the Clooney original (which appears to have been switched out for an awkward train sequence), and the airport goodbye scene, as these were scrapped for a final talk with Debbie Ocean’s past. However, the end result was still rather enjoyable. Not managing to surpass Ocean’s 11 or Ocean’s 13 quality wise, the film is much better than the second film in the series. While not as great as it could have been, the film wasn’t a disaster either: creating a fun heist film that I wouldn’t mind experiencing again for an Ocean’s Nine.