Ocean’s one-too-many

I admit, I went into the sequel to "Ocean’s Twelve," the sequel to "Ocean’s Eleven," with ridiculously high expectations.

As I walked into the theater, jittery with excitement, I expected to see more of what had made the first so cool. All those specialized crooks, all those amazing actors, all thrown together to pull off all those scams. The robbery wasn’t what was important, it was the skill of deception. Andy Garcia’s casino was not robbed by thieves, it was robbed by con men.

How depressing to get the gang back together and make them into thieves. "Ocean’s Twelve" ignored the individual characters, and gave some as little as two minutes worth of screen time. What a loss of potential.

The biggest problem with this sequel is that it’s not really a sequel. It is another plot that has been reformed with an aluminum baseball bat and a tack hammer to make it fit as the sequel to "Ocean’s Eleven." The twelfth was merely an afterthought. It wasn’t Catherine Zeta-Jones, as we all supposed, it was actually Julia Roberts, who we already knew. Zeta-Jones was too busy in her love/I-miss-my-father stories to be involved in any cool swindles. Her side stories were, bluntly, the entire problem.

As a separate movie, a duel of thievery between the long-lost greatest thief in the world and his jealous prot퀌�g퀌� (who wants revenge on our protagonist for his skill, and the title of "Greatest Thief in the World") would have made for a great movie. But not here. Danny Ocean is a confidence man; he is not a thief. His skill and charm reside in his ability to swindle. As a result, this movie does a poor job of showing off George Clooney’s ability, by depriving him of the very staples of his character.

And it doesn’t stop there either. Brad Pitt had a hilarious bit in the original, where he was shown eating in every single scene. Sometimes it wasn’t much, just a snack, but by the end of the movie, when he is shown eating again, it made for a great character bit. And now, in the sequel, it is just gone. He’s not on a diet, he hasn’t developed any food allergies, nothing. The bit from the original is just ignored.

And what is a sequel if not a continuation of the original?

There were a few virtues the movie had. The character Tess (Julia Roberts) went into a Roman museum impersonating well, Julia Roberts. The buildup to this part of the plot is great, and the revelation works well. While in the museum she runs into the real-life Bruce Willis, and the conmen have to deal with this new complication in an amusing scenario that was pulled off better than the main plot.

Subplots seem to be the name of the game in this movie. Matt Damon’s character took an unfortunate slant to the self-conscious and inept, but had a great subplot that revealed just a little more about his past and his family. This was also well executed.

But the main problem in this hash of a movie seems to be the unsuccessful fusing of two separate movies; the sequel to "Ocean’s Eleven" and the "Greatest Thief in the World" movie that it was grafted onto. Their combination made for huge plot holes and diluted two otherwise enjoyable stories. It is unfortunate to see such potential for a rich sequel being squandered by an attempt of the writer to use his favored (or already completed) plot, and throwing such wonderful characters into a movie that they did not fit into.

This would be a worthwhile movie to rent, but don’t bother seeing it in the theater. And when you do rent it, be sure to pick up a copy of "Ocean’s Eleven" so you’ll have at least one great movie to watch.