Ocean’s 8 arrived in movie theatres in the summer of 2018 to as much intrigue as a fanfare. The fanfare is a result of the star-studded cast and the links to the beloved Oceans trilogy, with Sandra Bullock occupying the lead role as Debbie Ocean, sister of George Clooney’s Danny Ocean. The intrigue was borne from the absence of Steven Soderbergh, with the director of the trilogy handing over the reins to Gary Ross. The result is a movie that doesn’t quite match the thrill of Ocean’s Eleven, but one that has broken new ground for the franchise in the box office.
The movie’s success on its opening weekend saw it fend off box office heavyweights in the form of Solo: A Star Wars Story and Deadpool 2 to deliver a resounding improvement on the initial takings of the original trilogy. $41.5 million taken from its first three days in North American theatres marked a strong start to a run that eventually yielded total box office takings of $294.4 million. The star power undeniably played a huge part in this financial success. Having three Oscar winners in the form of Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett and Anne Hathaway gives the movie a certain flair, while the inclusion of pop giant Rihanna in the cast won’t have harmed prospects in the box office.
Watching so many huge stars on the same screen is reminiscent of Ocean’s Eleven, the 2001 remake of the 1960 Rat Pack caper. Steven Soderbergh’s movie brought together George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts in a cast that would be the envy of all other directors in 2001. Ocean’s Eleven focused on the planning and execution of a heist at an Atlantic City casino. The movie reinvigorated the heist genre, providing a touchstone for subsequent Hollywood heists. The movie also tapped into the nostalgia of classic casinos. The 1960 movie similarly featured heists set in casinos, with the setting traditionally associated with a bygone era. The 2001 film brought the casino back into popular consciousness, with viewers swept up in the hustle and bustle of life in a grand casino.
Such casinos have slowly gone out of fashion in the seventeen years since Ocean’s Eleven, although the atmosphere they cultivated very much remains in vogue. This is why online casinos such as Duelz offer slot games like Twin Spin Deluxe and Deco Diamonds that evoke memories of the glitz and glamour of the casino in Ocean’s Eleven. Ocean’s 8 is removed from such an environment, instead focusing on the group planning a heist at the Met Gala in New York City. Just as the movie can’t compete with the thrill of the setting in Ocean’s Eleven, it also suffers from a stilted script and the absence of Soderbergh’s intuitive direction that kept tension and pace high in the original trilogy. Yet the movie is an enjoyable ride nonetheless, largely a result of the sterling performances of the cast.
The aforementioned stars, in addition to supreme talents such as Helena Bonham Carter and Sarah Paulson, have little to work with in terms of script and story, but the natural charisma and talent of the cast ensure that the movie works. If this is the start of a new trilogy, then it is not a bad way to start. The box office opening weekend that beat the original trilogy hints at a bright future for this new ensemble cast.
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