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Posted on Wed, Dec. 15, 2004

`Ocean's Twelve' is great fun but ethically challenged




Washington Post

• ``Ocean's Twelve'' (PG-13, 2 hours, 10 minutes) -- ``Ocean's Twelve'' is, happily, just as much sly, sophisticated fun as ``Ocean's Eleven'' (2001, also PG-13, a remake of the 1960 Rat Pack film of the same title, which starred Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin). Some of Hollywood's biggest stars -- George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Catherine Zeta-Jones and, in downsized recurring roles, Bernie Mac and Don Cheadle -- are working under Steven Soderbergh's witty direction and itchy, oddly angled lens. The movie seems to revel in the actors' rapport, the zigs and zags of plot and the European locales (Amsterdam, Rome).

Though it contains a lot of profanity for a PG-13, including a lengthy comic exchange about bleeping the obscenities out of a song, the movie features little mayhem and includes only mild sexual innuendo about a one-time affair between Rusty (Pitt) and Zeta-Jones as a ``Europol'' detective. And the Family Filmgoer must add the caveat that caper comedies such as this one show hip, attractive people committing theft and getting away with it. One hopes teens can see through a Hollywood confection to real-life morality.

Three years after they cleaned out the vault of Las Vegas casino boss Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), Danny Ocean (Clooney), Rusty and the crew are trying to live normal lives and resist the impulse to case every upscale store they walk into. But then they find out that someone has ratted them out to Benedict, who now demands repayment with interest or death. Though Tess (Roberts), whom Danny has now remarried, objects, the crew heads to Europe to engineer a series of heists to pay Benedict back.

P.S. FOR TEENS: ``Ocean's Twelve'' is a caper movie. That is, it's about a complicated theft (heist) on which a cast of colorful characters collaborates. Hollywood has been doing caper flicks for ages. Check out ``To Catch a Thief'' (1955) starring Cary Grant (as a jewel thief) and Grace Kelly, directed by the great master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock.

• ``Blade: Trinity'' (R, 1 hour, 54 minutes) -- For high-schoolers 16 and older who prefer action movies laced with science fiction and vampire horror, ``Blade: Trinity'' may match their cinematic blood type. Wesley Snipes returns as the Marvel Comics-inspired vampire killer in all his laconic, leather-clad, muscled, tattooed and barbered glory. The movie gets points for style and occasional flashes of wit, but like ``Blade'' (R, 1998) and ``Blade 2'' (R, 2002), ``Blade: Trinity'' makes little real-world sense, is often hard to follow on its own terms and occasionally just plain tiresome -- there's one too many fight, a bite or a gun battle. However, the ``Blade'' movies all hinge on an intriguing sci-fi conceit -- that vampirism is caused by a virus. This one concludes that the right serum (referred to in the script with creepy genocidal resonance as the ``final solution'') will reduce all vampires to ash.

The mayhem includes a decapitation, a monster vampire feeding on female corpses, bone-breaking martial-arts fights, battles using all sorts of weaponry and ordinary vampires that morph into multi-jawed demons. Disturbing scenes show a ``blood farm'' with comatose human victims suspended, a woman with a baby attacked by thugs, a vampire threatening to toss an infant off a building and an older child taken hostage. The movie contains implied nudity, steaming profanity, crude, misogynistic sexual language and toilet humor.


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