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The Ocean’s Trilogy Brings Its Superstars to 4K

(L-R) Brad Pitt and George Clooney in Ocean's Thirteen, part of the Ocean's trilogy. Image courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

For the second week in a row, following The Departed’s 4K UHD disc debut, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has tripled down on fancy releases of star-studded ensembles. Steven Soderbergh’s popular Ocean’s trilogy, featuring 2001’s Ocean’s Eleven, 2004’s sequel Ocean’s Twelve, and 2007’s concluding Ocean’s Thirteen, hits store shelves. They are available for purchase individually or in one combined set together with either regular packaging or collectible Steelbook art. The studio was generous enough to provide Film Obsessive with a preview copy of the trilogy set for our “Off the Shelf” disc review series.


Several men look at a fountain off screen in Ocean's Eleven, part of the Ocean's trilogy
(Center) Brad Pitt in Ocean’s Eleven, part of the Ocean’s trilogy. Image courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

The three movies of the Ocean’s trilogy epitomize the expression of big stars having fun. Starting with Ocean’s Eleven coming during the holiday season after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, these heist movie romps have always been able to lift spirits and allow audiences to sit back and have fun. Working as an update to the Rat Pack 1960 film of the same name, director Steven Soderbergh was alway able to make these films as smart as they were cool.

George Clooney is the titular Danny Ocean and Brad Pitt is his right hand man Rusty Ryan. The two old buddies are putting a team and a plan together to steal the $160 million vaulted bankroll of not one but three Las Vegas casinos on the night of a PPV boxing title fight. The mark is Andy Garcia’s Terry Benedict, the dominant casino magnate who has wronged many men in town and scored Danny’s ex-wife Tess (Julia Roberts) as his newest squeeze. Backed by the likes of Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Casey Affleck, Elliott Gould, and Carl Reiner as supporting hoods, Danny executes his decadent plan with more panache than Vegas has poker chips.

Building off the first movie’s universal praise and success, Soderbergh brought the cast back together three years later for Ocean’s Twelve and made the jump from sand-washed Nevada to luxurious and sunny Europe. Danny’s original team of thieves are pressed by Terry Benedict to get him his money back with interest, leading the squad towards several schemes culminating in absconding the famed Imperial Coronation Faberge Egg in Rome against the master French thief François Toulour dubbed “The Night Fox” and Europol detective Isabel Lahiri (Catherine Zeta-Jones), an old flame from Rusty’s past.

Where the first one was a blast of Hollywood oxygen, Ocean’s Twelve turned out to be a step down from the original, coming across more as glamor project fluff. Much of that bitter taste was corrected with Ocean’s Thirteen in 2007. Soderbergh brought the journey back to Las Vegas as Danny Ocean brings the boys back together to discredit Al Pacino’s casino mogul Willy Bank on the opening night of his lavish new casino. Their endeavors act as a measure of revenge for Bank swindling Elliott Gould’s Reuben’s efforts to build a new casino on the Strip. Brad Pitt and Catherine Zeta-Jones would sit this one out, yet the presence of Al Pacino as the heavy more than fills the void. While the critical ratings were higher for Ocean’s Thirteen, the box office take was the smallest of the Ocean’s trilogy.

The Discs

The 4K cover art of the Ocean's trilogy.
Image courtesy of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

The Ocean’s trilogy will be available to purchase on April 30 on Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc from online and in-store at major retailers and available for purchase Digitally from Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV, Google Play, Vudu and more. The 4K remasters of Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve, and Ocean’s Thirteen were completed at Warner Bros. Discovery’s Motion Picture Imaging (MPI) with the participation of Soderbergh. This trilogy always sought bright outdoor settings like Italy’s Lake Como and the searing Nevada desert. The 4K resolution polishes more shine from those locations. Likewise, the sparkle of the casino and museum interiors are also enhanced. Though it may be regarded the least, Ocean’s Twelve is the film of the three that looks the best in 4K UHD. 

On the sound side, the restored 5.1 digital audio mix was overseen by original re-recording sound mixer and sound editor Larry Blake, a longtime collaborator of Steven Soderbergh beyond the Ocean’s trilogy. Watching the films in this format and with this mix, the first thing that fills your ears is the smooth scores from electronic funk specialist David Holmes (Out of Sight). The restoration boost breathed extra life into those three compositions that already sounded better and more eclectic than 90% of other film scores. Other than the tunes, nothing else in this trilogy is going to challenge your home theater speakers for praise or nuance.

When it comes to special features on the Ocean’s trilogy, disappointment sets in. The Ocean’s trilogy Ultra HD Blu-ray discs and Digital contains only previously released special features. You would think two decades of celebration would bring in even a cursory retrospective mini-doc, interview, or two. Lately, Warner Bros. has been known to skimp on commentary tracks. It’s very good news to find the originals from the DVD editions remain.

That is most especially the case with Ocean’s Eleven, which has one of the best actor commentary tracks ever recorded. Brad Pitt (recorded separately), Matt Damon, and Andy Garcia yucked it up for all 116 minutes with stories, Easter eggs, anecdotes, and laughs. Not that the director’s track with Soderbergh and screenwriter Ted Griffin isn’t interesting, but, come on, who wouldn’t want to be a fly on the wall to three leading men talk shop unscripted. Soderbergh would return for commentary tracks on Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen with his respective screenwriters George Nolfi, Brian Koppelman, and David Levien. Sadly, no cast members ever came back together again.

The rest of the special features on the three films’ discs are your typical “making of” studio material. Ocean’s Eleven has “Are You In or Out? The Making of Ocean’s Eleven,” one callback to the 1960 original with “Original Ocean’s, Original Cool,” the casting focused “Pros & Cons: Inside Ocean’s Outfit,” and the costume and production design featurettes “The Style of Steal” and “The Look of the Con.” The smaller Ocean’s Twelve offerings include their production diary “Ready, Jet Set, Go,” their HBO First Look episode, and a collection of deleted scenes. Lastly, Ocean’s Thirteen follows the trend with “Third’s a Charm: The Making of Ocean’s Thirteen,” a walk-and-talk conversation with mega-producer Jerry Weintraub, the reflective “Masters of the Heist,” and their own smattering of deleted scenes. 

Here’s a final question to consider for the Ocean‘s trilogy. Why not a quadrilogy? Should Warner Bros. have included the 2018 female-concentrated spin-off Ocean’s 8 to this comprehensive disc set? Though it jumps to a different era after over a decade away, the ties are still there where the answer should have been yes. The studio came this far with these three. What’s one more?

Written by Don Shanahan

DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic writing here on Film Obsessive as the Editor-in-Chief and Content Supervisor for the film department. He also writes for his own website, Every Movie Has a Lesson. Don is one of the hosts of the Cinephile Hissy Fit Podcast on the Ruminations Radio Network and sponsored by Film Obsessive. As a school teacher by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical. He is a proud director and one of the founders of the Chicago Indie Critics and a voting member of the nationally-recognized Critics Choice Association, Online Film Critics Society, North American Film Critics Association, International Film Society Critics Association, Internet Film Critics Society, Online Film and TV Association, and the Celebrity Movie Awards.

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