Ocean’s Eight – Review


‘Ocean’s Eight’ is the latest entry in the Ocean’s franchise, which has been rather dormant since ‘Ocean’s Thirteen’. Personally, I didn’t see a reason to continue the franchise since the Ocean’s films have been going downhill and I’ve seen that when I wasn’t really much of a fan, albeit, of ‘Ocean’s Eleven’. It’s a passable film and if you can switch off your brain it’s perfectly fine but that’s about it. It’s not helped by the fact that I’m not the biggest George Clooney fan in the world and I mean, I don’t think these are some of his better roles – nothing against the guy but George Clooney, when he’s directed and has a good script, is generally a good actor. In the Ocean’s films it feels like he’s slumming it.

The film’s directed by Gary Ross, who also did the screen play. Having directed the first of ‘The Hunger Games’ films, which if you recall from my review of ‘Mockingjay Part 2’, I thought that film’s ambitious plot was dragged down by his direction, despite the fact it did stay close to the book’s overall plot. The other announcement was the fact that there would be no cast members returning and this resulted in an all female cast. This obviously got people complaining about social injustice and the so called feminist agenda, which meant that much like the recent ‘Ghostbusters’ movie, I feel that it was going into a no win situation. In fact, I was even considering skipping reviewing ‘Ocean’s Eight’ for that specific reason but I did review’ Ghostbusters’ so I’m going to review ‘Ocean’s Eight’.

So instead of Danny Ocean from the previous films, this time we have his sister, Debbie Ocean – don’t ask. I know as far as my recollection goes, she didn’t appear in any of the other films and she’s a completely invented character for this movie and played by Sandra Bullock. Supposedly, Danny has died between movies off screen – AKA, they don’t know if they can get George Clooney back for any more of these movies so it was probably best to potentially kill him off. Hell, they even make a running gag that Debbie is not entirely convinced that he is actually dead.

Debbie is portrayed as being coerced into a crime by her then boyfriend who throws her under the bus. Then after getting out of prison for good behaviour, she immediately teams up with the rest of a crew of her friends and decides she is going to get back at him by pulling off a heist of her own. They tell you there’s a rare kind of diamond worth millions and they’re going to get it from the necklace of a top celebrity, Daphne Kluger, played by Anne Hathaway. They will then use their connections at an exclusive party to steal it.

‘Ocean’s Eight’ as an all star cast, including Cate Blanchett, Midori Francis, Charlotte Kirk, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling and Rihanna, Dakota Fanning and Awkwafina, as well as Sarah Paulson. But here’s the thing: Ocean’s Eight is one of the most passable films I’ve seen all year. It is the film I have the least amount of feelings for: I don’t like it enough to really want anything to do with it and I don’t hate it enough to really want to rage against it.

‘Ocean’s Eight’ is virtually identical to its counterparts, which is why I actually said I preferred the recent ‘Ghostbusters’ reboot, since at least that film was trying something new: it actually felt like a new franchise. ‘Ocean’s Eight’ just feels like a gender swapped ‘Ocean’s Eleven’. And the only thing is, I think the emphasis on the gender swap is the marketing department’s biggest failing since it just highlights that that’s the only thing that’s even remotely interesting about the film. This one is so part of the course, that it’s just boring. I was amazed how dull this film was actually. It does pick up by the time it got to the heist but by then it was too little too late. The only thing that surprised me about the film is that Rihanna’s actually doing a decent performance in this movie which is saying a lot considering that I’ve never enjoyed performances in some of her previous films.

The film’s main eight actresses are actually pretty decent, this is especially the case for Sandra Bullock, who is perfectly fine, although again, I think the casting is pretty decent I couldn’t really believe she could be related to George Clooney. Also, don’t expect cast members to return this time; this is pretty much an entirely new cast, which is something I would say it has over the ‘Ghostbusters’ reboot since in that film all three surviving Ghostbusters, as well as Sigourney Weaver, all came back for cameos, which made the film come off as seeming unconfident in its new stars. I do appreciate that this film does have confidence in its new stars and I will say that most of the actresses look like they’re having a really good time. You get a sense that all the main stars were fans of the Ocean’s movies and wanted to do a good performance. Here’s the problem I have: the script. With Ocean’s movies I never feel sympathetic to any of the cast. They always try and make it look like there’s a bigger scumbag out there than them but in heist movies, they’ve really got to have a good reason why they’re stealing shit and I don’t think ‘Ocean’s Eight’ provides a good enough one. Debbie’s old boyfriend is a complete asshole of the highest proportion but I’m not sure it’s to the extent that I want to see him go to prison for his crap. Yeah, they have an idea that they’re going to frame him for the heist so that he does the prison time he should have done, but that’s the thing, that’s an idea that they don’t execute well enough because he’s not in the film long enough to really make much of an impact.

Speaking of no impact, as you will see from the trailer, James Corden has a parti n the film but you pretty much saw all of it from the trailer. He plays an insurance agent who has been trying to investigate the situation after the heist and that’s frankly putting more emphasis on it than necessary. In fact, he only really appears for a minor portion; in fact, most of his dialogue had been in the trailers. Very little of it has not already been seen. I will say that he has the confidence to do well in performing in scenes with actresses like Sandra Bullock ad Anne Hathaway but that’s the thing, he’s just playing James Corden. He’s not really playing a character. James Corden’s a decent enough TV personality but he’s not really a character actor. And don’t take that the wrong way; I’m personally someone who’s rather indifferent towards Corden. I don’t really have much feelings about his show one way or the other and he has done projects that I genuinely liked. I did like his performance in ‘The History Boys’, for example, and his writing in ‘Gavin and Stacey’ was pretty good. I just feel he needs a better project to show off his chops.

Speaking of which, another problem is that all of the actresses are really competing for screen time. Many of them get a lot more scenes than expected, for example, Helena Bonham Carter was in this film a lot more than I was anticipating, which is probably a good thing, considering she has one of the best parts in the film. But some of the more up and coming actresses are downplayed. For example, Mindy Kaling really doesn’t have much of a presence in the film until much later on, which is a shame because she is a decent actress. Similarly, fans of Rihanna will be a bit disappointed that her role has been overplayed in the trailer but at least this time she’s actually giving a good performance.

Sarah Paulson really didn’t leave too much of an impression on me but as for Anne Hathaway, I’ve never really been one to jump on the bandwagon of really hating Anne Hathaway because frankly, I feel it’s not really her fault. She tends to just be given really bad scripts and she tries to make the best of the situation. And when she’s given a good script and good direction, she can give a genuinely good performance. See, her voice acting role in ‘The Cat Returns’ for example, which is probably one of her best performances. And I might rat on’ The Princess Diary’ movies, and frankly they deserve a ribbing considering how awful they are, but in a way you’ll enjoy them in the same way that you’ll watch a video of cat falling down the stairs. You know you shouldn’t enjoy watching it. But to be fair, Anne Hathaway’s performance did help save those films and she did bring life to a character that without a good performance, doesn’t really have much personality. She unfortunately doesn’t bring the same fuel to ‘Ocean’s Eight’. She has been cast as an obnoxious celebrity of some sort whose relevance in the plot goes back and forth. In fact, the writing’s so bad I don’t think I even remember what her profession is. Was she a model? An actress? You tell me.

Also, in ‘Ocean’s Eight’, we’re not surprised in the sense of there are lots of leaps in logic and many cases of, ‘I’m sorry but if you tried that, you’d get caught instantly.’ In fact, I’d even say there are not many parts of this film that I am a fan of. Although, I did say that ‘Eight’ is not a terrible film by any means. When it’s dumb fun, it is enjoyable but as I also said, I am not a fan of the Ocean’s movies and this was nothing different. If you like the Ocean’s movies, ‘Ocean’s Eight’ is more of the same. You’re getting the exact same film, done again, it brings nothing really much better or worse. And that’s it.

Honestly, I was kind of padding this review to make up time because the film gives me nothing to really enjoy about it. Only some of the dumb fun moments. Like the other movies, it’s pretty much just shut off your brain and go along with it but not in a way that I find ultra-fun. And I personally feel that I am kind of done with the Ocean’s movies. I never went to watch one in a cinema and frankly, I’m not sure that I would do it again. The film teases that this could potentially be a new franchise but I’m not sure I’m on board for the idea of a new franchise.

If you like it, go and see it. It’s fine. That’s all I can say about it. It’s okay. Anyone who is not going to see this film because of the all women cast – you’re being a dick. And for the record, anyone who says if you don’t like this film then you’re being a misogynist, you’re also being a dick. There’s plenty to complain about with this film without being sexist. If they’re complaining that it’s because it’s women in the leads then fine. Have a go at them all you want, they deserve it but it’s only legitimate to complain about a film when you address a decent back up argument given, I don’t care. Okay, I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want this to be ‘Ghostbusters’ all over again. Thankfully, nothing like that backlash is happening. It looks like mankind are learning from their mistakes.

Well, that’s it for this week and next week I decided that I’ve not done a lot of Anime reviews for the Society itself so I’m going to get back into an Anime movie that me and my friends, The Anime Amigos, do not have time to review because of a conflicting schedule. Next week, I’ll be reviewing the film Maquia by director Mari Okada.

Thanks for reading this review. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Calvin – Nerd Consultant

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The Next Axia10th July 2024
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