Ocean's Twelve (2004)
Starring: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Julia Roberts, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Carl Reiner, Elliott Gould, Edward Jemison, Bernie Mac, Shaobo Qin
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh
Ocean's Eleven (the remake, I've never seen the original) is one of my favourite movies. It's infinitely enjoyable. So any judgement on it's sequel is based on the lofty standards of the first. Sadly, the sequel didn't meet those lofty standards. It's an entertaining film in it's own right, but doesn't put it together like the first one did.
A lot of it is typical sequel problems. A lot of what is enjoyable in an original film is the stuff on the periphery. So sequels often try to push the periphery into the foreground. Hey, people liked the little Chinese guy in the first one, so let's feature him more in the second one! So sequels often come off as sad attempts to re-capture the magic of the original by cramming as much of the first one into the second, while still adding new elements. Ocean's Twelve isn't a sad attempt, but you do see a lot of scenes that seem to fill no other purpose than to try and bring back something from the first film.
Simply put, the film lacks the direction and purpose of the first. In this way, the two films mirror the capers pulled off by the characters in the film. In Ocean's Eleven, the crew was always in control, pulling off their heist perfectly, with everything falling into place. The movie itself also seemed very focused and efficient. Each scene had a purpose toward the eventual payoff of the film. In the sequel, the crew is constantly fighting from behind, and seems very disorganised and manic. In turn, the film does as well. Whereas Eleven seemed to make perfect use of it's large ensemble (the eleven cons, Julia Roberts and Andy Garcia), Twelve seems too focused on the ensemble (the eleven cons, Roberts, Garcia, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and a new thief) to the degree that newcomer Zeta-Jones may have had the most screen time of any character (if not officially, she's very close to Brad Pitt and George Clooney for this honour). As a result, no character gives a truly memorable performance, and thus, I won't have go and re-list a bunch of Top Fives (maybe the Clooney and Roberts lists, but that's it).
However, I feel any judgement I give on the clarity of the film must be delayed until a second viewing, due to the nature of the final act. A second viewing will let me know if they justify the payoff at the end, or if it's merely tacked on. This could change my entire opinion of the film. Until then, I'll have to go with my standard, "not as good as the first, but still entertaining".