Movie Review – Ocean’s 8

I understand the appeal of a movie like this — the Ocean’s 11 (and +) movies are popular, and the idea of all these good looking, smart men conducting a high-octane heist is great fun, when done right. Switching it off with Danny Ocean’s prison-sprung sister Debbie, and her classy, femme fatale cohorts should be equally exciting, right?They got the perfect lineup of attractive, well-regarded, and culturally diverse actresses, added a reasonable plot, and mixed it together with snappy lines and pretty dresses.

So I did have a degree of good expectations heading into the theater. What surprised me was how mediocre the affair turned out to be. What do women want? Clearly, diamonds. The male plots didn’t have diamond necklace payouts. And I understand audiences probably enjoyed the high fashion displayed along the way, and the actresses got to have some girly fun…but there it is: that’s the word: girly.

I can even get past the shortsightedness of the Material Girl culture if the film was funny enough, clever enough, or just a rollicking good time. But instead it kind of checks all the boxes expected of a heist film, then calls it a day, satisfied at the end to sip a gin and tonic by a tombstone.

I don’t think it’s enough to go through the motions. In the Danny Ocean movies we get to see why each character was recruited, and what made them perfect for the mission. Here, most of that was skipped over in favor of lightly amusing banter.

I’m not saying it’s a bad film. I’m just confused why this gender-flipped version wasn’t as much fun, or as smart, as the others.

To the good: Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway added some needed zest to their roles. They were delightfully off-kilter, without ever veering into bizarre. I do expect that from Carter, but it’s nice to see Hathaway mixing it up. She plays Daphne like she did The White Queen (in the regrettably Depp-heavy Alice in Wonderland), with an unusual texture and tone. I’m glad to see Hathaway isn’t afraid to break out of the ‘perfect girl’ mold. It’s time to give this actress some rope to play with, because I think she can develop a respectable range.

With the plethora of great movies in the theater this summer, I’d recommend waiting for the DVD on Ocean’s 8. It’s a perfect at-home-with-the-girls movie, with plenty of the above-mentioned gin and tonics. Save your cinema money for the stuff you need to see on the big screen to appreciate — the dinosaurs, the wizards, the superheros, and the galaxies long ago and far away.

So, yeah, a B- isn’t a bad grade, but I’ve given you enough information to decide what you want to do with your time.

Movie Grade: B-

RunPee Meta: It’s not easy to get good Peetimes for heist films, which tend to be lean (not much filler), and have many points that seem minor at the time, only to reveal a big payoff later. I’ve provided 3 Peetimes that are easily summed up in the synopses. I recommend the 1st Peetime, at 42 minutes in, if you can make a pre-emptive break. The 3rd Peetime is best for emergencies. 

Movie Review: Thor 3 – Ragnorak (Jilly’s POV)

Thor 3, AKA Ragnarok, was incredibly engaging and hard to tear my eyes from. It’s now in my top tier of MCU movies, beaten only by the first Guardians of the Galaxy. Hemsworth’s slightly dim but mighty character is a joy, from his 4th wall-breaking open, to the mid-credit end, and the man’s got surprisingly perfect comedic timing. Who knew? Turns out Hemsworth really can carry a movie on his muscular back, with more than raw beauty to show for it.

I wasn’t expecting too much going in, but admittedly the bar was so low with Thor 1 and 2 (especially 2). The director used Thor wisely in his 3rd, and presumably final, solo film. Although it’s essentially a buddy movie about Hulk, too. Just like Captain America 3: Civil War is basically an Avengers ensemble movie, right? It works.

Along these lines, I have a few alternate titles for Thor: Ragnarok that I think would work even better (unless you are a huge Norse Mythology fan). List whichever you prefer in the comments section:

  • Thor: God of Hammers
  • Thor: Gladiator Edition
  • Thor: The Funny One
  • Revengers (like the Avengers, with added dysfunction)
  • Hulk 2
  • Thor and Hulk: Road Trip to the Devil’s Anus

What’s unusual about this film are the villains. They aren’t bland meanies, like most superhero supervillans; they’re actually okay.  Damning with faint praise, I know. Cate Blanchett does a decent job with what she’s given (I sense there were more scenes left on the editing floor). The Ragnarok fire demon was fine – he wasn’t intended to be more than a burning lava monster, from cold open to the unusual climax. And Golblum isn’t even a “bad” guy — he’s just an amiable meglomaniac with a harem and God Complex. He reminded me of The Collector. I hope we see them both again.

I do feel bad for Hela…there could have been a lot more depth to her arc. I guess she needed to get in line for scene time after Loki and Odin and Heimdall (who, thankfully, had something to do this time around). I’d be super happy with a Heimdall movie, for reals. The man was wasted, although the teaser suggests more to come. Saying anything more would enter spoiler territory, so let’s just move along.

Finally, Loki was appropriately used, and is more understandable — this director “got” what the God Of Mischief is about. Loki is like the “Scorpion” in the parable with the fox (Google it) — it’s true to his nature to sting. Yet he does try (when it suits hims, natch) to be a hero. He wants to be better, and if you recall from the first Thor movie, both brothers had some moral growing to do. With Thanos mad at him, we can guess which side he’ll lean on now. Loki has always been a scene stealer, as well as a PITA to boot, but here I’m fully onboard with his character. He can be a positive force, if he’s just accepted and understood — that’s become super clear, finally, in Ragnarok.

I’m really stingy with my A grades, and the last time I gave out a full A+ was the 2017 space cruise ship flick Passengers. Strangely enough, my favorite MCU film is still the original Guardians of the Galaxy. The blue and purple villains were underwhelming though, and I can only give GoTG a A- grade in good conscience. (I’ll link to that article when I write it.)

But, we’re still talking about Thor here, and Thor 3 manages to pull a win from their previously low Marvel tier buttocks.

And yes, I rank Marvel movies by tier: Great, Good, Okay, and Fetid…and Thor’s been scraping the bottom in his stand-alones,  til now. I credit the director — who also played the delightful Rockman — for understanding what Thor should be used for, along with Hemsworth for embracing his slightly slow but funny godhood (“Because that is what heroes do!”), Ruffalo for being freaking awesome in his dual roles, and for the writers giving us something happy in these dark times…YES. Thank you for the color, the fun, and for Goldblum. He’s the perfect weirdo to be the Grandmaster, and I hear he smartly improvised most of his lines, playing himself, as usual. Go Goldblum, go.

And now I’ve got The Immigrant Song, by Led Zepplin, stuck in m head. It’s a good choice, so that’s okay by me. The reprise was certainly welcome, and the audience clapped at it. I was a happy movie goer that day, and saw it this three more times in the cinema later. Watch it in the theater, and watch it again on DVD.

Movie Grade: A+

Want more? Read Dan’s review of Thor: Ragnarok

And our Thor 2 – The Dark World Rewatch Review

Or the Complete Compilation of Thor 3’s Deleted, Bonus, and Blooper Scenes