By Julia Wachtel
Ocean’s 8, while not being my favorite movie of the year, is definitely an enjoyable watch. My expectations were low; the only reason I really wanted to see this movie at all is because my best friend praised it highly. After dragging two other friends who not only don’t know a thing about films, but were unenthusiastic at best, our hopes were not high. It follows Debbie Ocean, the sister of Danny Ocean from the original franchise. She has been devising a grand heist of the MET gala, while waiting five years behind bars. Once she gets out she assembles a team of women who help her take over the gala, and steal millions. I went into viewing Ocean’s 8 without seeing any of the previous Ocean films. It probably made my viewing experience more enjoyable, as I didn’t really expect anything. The movie follows the now growing list of all female adaptation of Hollywood classics, following the success of Ocean’s 11, Ocean’s 12, and Ocean’s 13. Ocean’s 8 made the most money opening weekend for any film in the franchise, making $41,607,378 dollars. On the flipside, even though Ocean’s 8 is still in theaters, it has made the least of any of the others films in the series, with $109,082,181 gross according to Box Office Mojo.
Ocean’s 8 is not perfect by any stretch, I enjoyed it because it was fun. It stars so many leading ladies that have graced our screens time and time again. The A-list cast of characters includes but is not limited to Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, Sarah Paulson, and Awkwafina as the eight women who pull off the grand heist of the MET gala while also featuring celebrity cameos that include Heidi Klum, Kim Kardashian, and Katie Holmes. The movie existing within itself, a film that features all females in a not romantic comedy style, is extremely rare and applaudable. Sitting in the theater, I couldn’t believe how fast the movie flew by, and how many little details were created to pull off this “heist”. The movie ends with a bit of a twist that I didn’t see coming, and overall I was actually pretty surprised reading reviews after the movie. In many ways it seems that reviewers were pretty harsh on the film. I wanted to go in fresh faced because I assumed plenty of people would have thoughts on how this would compare to the originals. I just wanted to judge it from an outsider’s perspective.
Looking back there are plenty of reasons that this isn’t a great movie. For instance, even though the heist was well-thought out, it seems to me that it would be impossible for this to be pulled off successfully. Some of the things that happen, like Rihanna’s character moving the security cameras without anyone noticing, is completely unbelievable. In some aspects this far-fetched style works because you are made to root for these criminals. Since you want it to work out for them it doesn’t really matter if the matter it is done is believable or not.Additionally there are times where the movie tries to be funny and fails miserably. It lost some of its credibility everytime they would try to say something humorous, and the audience didn’t even chuckle. Most egregious I believe, is the use of the A-list stars on a script that is not doing anything extraordinary. Not to say I didn’t like it, but to say that with a cast of that caliber, why would they basically stick to the same script as the other Ocean movies? I know that is kind of thing with this franchise, meaning that all of the films use big hollywood actors to drive traffic towards the film, and they are heist films. Except it was already done with the other Ocean’s movies. This would be more understandable if Sandra Bullock hadn’t previously said that this is specifically not a reboot. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Sandra Bullock describes the film by saying, “we’re not a reboot. We’re just a this is what’s happening in 2017. It’s not even a passing of the torch. It’s a parallel story of another family member that was raised in the same family Danny Ocean was and what happens when Debbie steps out of jail with all of these amazing, powerful women.” If Ocean’s 8 was going for the reboot style like Ghostbusters, this would have been less infuriating. It basically uses the same type of heist background, just with different leads and settings. If this is what they were going for, than great. I am sure most fans went into the film wanting exactly that. For someone who hasn’t seen the other movies in the franchise like me, it made sense and worked. But to pretend that this is something different than the other heist stories in the series is a little surprising to say the least.
Overall, I did enjoy Ocean’s 8. I thought it was fun, and the chemistry between the main 8 leading ladies was spectacular. The idea to hold the heist at the MET gala, possibly the most extravagant event of the year was genius, and a great way to add more A-listers to the cast. The all-female cast is something that is desperately needed in Hollywood, especially after the #MeToo movement. There was a lot of good to this movie, but it also doesn’t justify the lack of originality, something that has become an unfortunate staple for summer blockbusters. It is the epitome of Hollywood playing it safe.