Star power aside, caper sequel weak

Monday, December 13, 2004

"Oceans Twelve" is lighter than the proverbial feather, much too light to rank it among the finer heist films. It would blow away in the first gust of a Central New York winter storm.

But, if you want to watch beautiful, funny and talented people having a great time, plus see some European sights, it's a big winner, with many thanks to Steven Soderbergh, a director who knows how to get the best, most relaxed work from his ensemble.

The crew that pulled off a daring heist, taking millions from Las Vegas entrepreneur Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) a few years ago in "Ocean's Eleven," is forced to return to their criminal specialties because Benedict has penetrated their new guises and wants his money back - with interest.

Not that the 11 all are unwilling. Some are bored. One wants to crack the top echelon of crime. Only two want out - the eldest and Tess (Julia Roberts), now the wife of Danny Ocean (George Clooney).

Due to the featherweight plot, little should be revealed. A gorgeous international detective (Catherine Zeta-Jones) has two secrets in her past. And the team will end up dueling with a fellow international thief with the nickname Inky Fox (Vincent Cassel), a huge ego and a mansion to match it. Plus, he's a skilled acrobat-dancer.

The comic high point is reached when Bruce Willis appears as himself. He believes Tess is the real Julia Roberts. The museum sequence is very, very amusing. Roberts was in her early pregnancy, but didn't need more than that portion of the film to score.

Alas, many of the team get short shrift. After all, can Casey Affleck and Scott Caan expect much screen time when Zeta-Jones, Clooney and Matt Damon are on hand? Of course not. So we have the gifts of Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac and Carl Reiner relegated to background extras. Yet, Cassel manages in his brief appearances to create a figure who is menacing, dapper and funny.

Tenor Crawley resurfaces

Many Syracuse Opera fans wondered why frequent leading singer Richard Crawley was absent for the season's opener, "Otello."

The Camden-raised tenor had the best of reasons. He's on the West Coast, covering roles in the San Francisco Opera's repertory. He made his official San Francisco debut as Cavaradossi in "Tosca," opposite diva Carol Vaness in the title role, due to the illness of the scheduled singer.

"It was a great opportunity for me," he said in an e-mail to the local company. "It went so well, and I couldn't be happier."

Crawley is due to return to Central New York later this month. Meanwhile, he is covering the role of Lenski in "Eugene Onegin."

Among the tenor's Syracuse Opera appearances are "La Traviata" and "Faust." In addition, he has toured in the New York City Opera National Company of "Barber of Seville." Crawley also has soloed with the Syracuse Symphony and played in area dinner-theater productions.

© 2004 The Post-Standard. Used with permission.

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