Looking Back At OCEAN'S ELEVEN - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Looking Back At OCEAN'S ELEVEN

In late 2001, George Clooney, Brad Pitt and a host of other stars partnered to form the cast of Ocean's Eleven, the first in what would soon grow to be a beloved franchise for Warner Bros. Looking back on it nearly two decades later, nothing feels special about Ocean's Eleven's plot - a heist, albeit a grand one involving three casinos - but despite its normalcy and weightlessness, the cast was able to turn the film into a timeless classic.

It's legacy is thanks in large part to Steven Soderbergh's stylistic direction. During a blockbuster holiday season when children were queuing up to see the first Harry Potter film, Soderbergh gave their parents something magical of their own. Credit also goes to Ted Griffin's screenplay which chooses to focus upon the characters to tell the story, his script and Soderbergh's storytelling giving every actor enough time to bring their respective characters to life and make each one stand-out as individuals.

Ocean's Eleven is, of course, a remake of the 1960 Rat Pack film of the same name, which starred Frank Sinatra as Danny Ocean, the role Clooney takes here. In this updated version, Danny and his squad are career criminals and following his release from prison, Ocean violates his parole by traveling to California to meet his partner-in-crime and friend Rusty Ryan (Pitt) to propose a heist. The two go to Las Vegas with a plan to simultaneously rob the Bellagio, the Mirage, and the MGM Grand casinos.

From here on out, Ocean's Eleven takes place mostly in casino buildings, with every scene being something special as they describe the life of a gamer along with the big heist they are undertaking. The noisy and glamorous casinos give a realistic effect to the film. Soderbergh shows the true atmosphere of casinos, including the difference between front and back of house, with very interesting transitions from one to another. He also depicts both sides of the casino industry - the offline and online world. We see both crowded and intimate poker tables, people enjoying playing roulette, Baccarat, and blackjack online. It's these casino scenes which contribute to make Ocean's Eleven special in many ways.

Now, we mentioned that everyone is a career criminal, which means that they are all skilled in a particular field, making the heist a lot easier to pull off. The team aren't your typical movie 'criminals' though, instead they are gentlemen, in their own ways, calm and collected. But whereas the rest of the Eleven are in it for the money, Danny has an additional motive - to rob casinos that are owned by Terry Benedict, his ex-wife's new man!

To some, Ocean's Eleven is straight-up fantasy because of just how unrealistically things play out. But to critique the film's accuracy and realism is missing the point. Ocean's Eleven should not be taken as a serious form of media, the movie is something to enjoy with a bucket of popcorn and a large soda. But the immersion does help ground this fantasy; shooting in actual casino locations, camera angles that work, music that provokes, and spectacular character performances across the cast. Saying that Ocean's Eleven is a masterpiece is a bit of a stretch, but it manages to capture the Hollywood glam in a similar way to the original 1960's version (something only a criminal heist movie can maybe do) whilst also portraying three dimensional characters, which the original failed at, being little more than an exercise in celebrity cool. Comparing the original version of the film might not be right though because both of them are special in their own ways.

In summary, not only this first installment, the com plate Ocean's Trilogy is a surprisingly good watch for the family. For crime films there's hardly any violence, rather it's replaced by ambitious plots and whimsical characters. Once viewed it's not hard to see why so many people of all ages find delight throughout Ocean's Eleven and the whole experience the film offers.

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