Review: Ocean’s 8

Score: C

Director: Gary Ross

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Sarah Paulson, Anne Hathaway

Running Time: 110 Minutes

Rated: PG-13

Destined for BuzzFeed quizzes and Instagram posts with hashtags like #iconic and #squadgoals, Ocean's 8 certainly looks beautiful. It's just too bad they forgot to make a full movie to go along with it.

A spin-off of a franchise that began with a remake, Ocean's 8 connects so tangentially to the stylish Steven Soderbergh films that it's a wonder they even used the name. Sandra Bullock, as Debbie, the sister of Danny (George Clooney), is fresh out of prison and looking for the next big score, just like her brother.

And just like her brother, she's put together an impossible job that's both about revenge and a huge take. And of course she's got a team of capable ladies. Unfortunately, that's almost all they are. They have quirks, but no real personalities, and none of them get their moments to be hilarious. (Not even Mindy Kaling, who led her own sitcom for six seasons!) It's not like 2001 film was known for its character development, but they all had more to them than any ladies do here.

That's a real shame, because they're all talented. And they all seem to be having a lot of fun, except Cate Blanchett for some reason. Her character is sour, and not in a way that would play to her strengths, where she could cut someone down with a devastating, hilarious comment. No, this is a nice heist movie, where even the person they're getting revenge on is more of a doofus than a cold, heartless billionaire.

The only real revelation of the movie (if you can call it that) is Anne Hathaway as the vain movie star the crew seeks to relieve of her $150 million diamond necklace. In her first straightforward comedy in a long time, she's fantastic, tweaking her own image into the only character that's even mildly complex.

Part of the reason Ocean's 8 won't be remembered as fondly as that 2001 hit – and maybe not even as much as its two sequels – is that it's so flat-looking. That's to be expected when hiring Gary Ross to direct. Aside from Pleasantville, none of his directorial efforts have a lot of visual panache. The film has some Oscar-worthy costumes and a stunningly beautiful cast, but they're all shot in such a pedestrian style that they don't pop off the screen like they should.

At least the film is breezy. Even at almost two hours, it doesn't drag. But it's a copy of a copy: a knock-off handbag that looks identical from far away, but up close has none of the detail that made the original so desirable.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.

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