A Quick Five-Film Rundown
The first thing I want to say is that, for me, the films Hotel Transylvania 3 Summer Vacation, Incredibles 2, Ant-Man and The Wasp, and Ocean's Eight are 8 out of 10 films.
The first three (Hotel Transylvania 3, Incredibles 2, and Ant-Man and The Wasp) make the 8 out of 10 easily. The Ocean's Eight film's 8 out of 10 is a bit more hard-fought, but it does get there.
The reason I rank those films so highly is because I like the characters so much. For me, character is everything in film. If I like the characters, I will sit through anything. If I like the characters, it doesn't matter what "we" are doing; it doesn't have to be exciting.
For example, one of my favorite films is an "Indie" sort of number called The Station Agent (2003), starring Peter Dinklage, Patricia Clarkson, and Bobby Cannavale. If you go watch this film, I dare you to try to tell me the plot --- because there is none.
But that was okay with me. The three of them spent their time walking around railroad tracks in New Jersey.
But I liked those three characters so much, I wanted to hang out with them.
Look, if you think I'm kidding or exaggerating about The Station Agent having no plot, "Google" this film and read the description that appears on the right. Even the professionals cannot really find a way to synopsize this plot-less movie.
Plot isn't everything.
I am easy to please with movies. If you give me likeable, sympathetic characters, I will accept any story, or lack thereof, that they tell me.
If I like the characters, I will give them every benefit of a doubt possible. I will come back to this point when I talk a little bit about Ocean's Eight.
I know that I don't have to say too much about this delightful film at this point. We have an adorable superhero family; an interesting villain with an interesting motivation; other "meta-humans" with interesting powers. All of this is set within a rocking and rolling adventure, touched off with moving, warm human moments in the family.
Incredibles 2 is the best Fantastic Four story yet put to film.
An easy 8 out of 10.
Ant-Man and The Wasp:
Paul Rudd (Ant-Man) and Evangeline Lilly (The Wasp) have great chemistry, and are completely believable as love interests, and easy for the audience to get behind. The actress that plays Rudd's daughter was too adorable for words. I bought the three of them as a soon-to-be happy family unit.
Michael Douglass (playing a scientist and the original Ant-Man) and Michelle Pfeiffer (his wife, fellow scientist, and the original Wasp) both turn in stellar performances.
The action is a nice balance between the "real" world and the so-called Quantum Zone.
Another easy 8 out of 10.
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation:
Count Dracula, the proprietor (along with his vampire daughter and her family) of Hotel Transylvania, and their monster buddies, get away from it all with an ocean cruise to the lost monster civilization of Atlantis, in the Bermuda Triangle.
"The Drac" finds love again.
I saw this movie three times in theaters; and I almost never bother to see any film multiple times in theaters.
This is, for me, the easiest 8 out 10 yet!
This is a covert action thriller starring Mark Wahlberg. I give this film a 6 out of 10.
I rank this so low, as "mediocre" because it is a competently put together, serviceable action number. However, once the film's trick ending is revealed, it becomes un-re-watchable.
What I'm saying is that, in my judgment, the movie is not made to be watched multiple times. There simply is no point.
I did not find any of the characters particularly compelling. I certainly don't want to spend any more time with Wahlberg's James Silva character.
Mixed martial arts fighter, Ronda Rousey is in this movie, and she does not embarrass herself.
Ex-con grifter Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) assembles an all-female team of crooks and thieves to pull off a jewelry heist of a lifetime.
Though it was a bit more hard-fought, the ranking does rise to an 8 out of 10 for me. Again, I like this film so much because I like the main characters so much. I like the chemistry they have with each other, even when they talked about other things aside from "The Job." I wanted them to get away with whatever they wanted to get away with.
Now, the main criticism of the film, from what I can tell, seems to revolve around the apparent ease with which the Debbie Ocean gang pulled off the caper. This apparent ease-of-execution of the plan indicates, to these critics, that there is a lack of "tension" and "stakes" in this movie.
To this I say three things:
1. You may be right. I won't argue with you to the death about it.
2. As I said before, however, when I like the characters I tend to give them every possible benefit of doubt, which I am about to do with point #3.
To those who say that there is no "tension" and "stakes" in this movie, I would advise them to watch Ocean's 8 again.
As I say that, however, we should understand something. Sandra Bullock has always been, primarily, a comedic actress. She did not chart the career paths of thespians like Angelina Jolie, Milla Jovovich, and Scarlett Johansson --- bonafide high-octane action players all!
What I'm saying with that comparison is this: It is not fair to judge "tension" and "stakes" in a Sandra Bullock action/thriller/crime movie, whatever it is, by the same standard that can be justly applied to that of such movies starring Jolie, Jovovich, and Johansson.
Also, Ocean's 8 is a movie that, in addition to its crime element, clearly means to make the audience smile, giggle, and chuckle --- which usually could not be further from the intention of any action fare featuring Jolie, Jovovich, and Johansson.
Now then, having said that, let me briefly remind critics of the substantial tension and stakes in this movie.
First of all, let's remember that Debbie Ocean (Bullock) spent five years in prison.
And why was she in prison, by the way?
Because her lover-fellow grifter Claude Becker (played by Richard Armitage) turned state's evidence, when the small-time scamming couple was arrested for their small-time scamming. Becker put the blame on Debbie Ocean for a more serious crime, which she had had nothing to do with.
He went free (possibly with probation or something) and she spent five long years in prison.
- Remember, Debbie Ocean spent those five long years in prison planning the ultimate caper.
- Remember that she was also motivated by revenge; she planned out her revenge against the treacherous Claude Becker.
What I am saying is this:
I bought the idea that Debbie Ocean, fuelled by vengeance, was smart enough to plan the caper in meticulous, even microscopic detail, while, at the same time, plotting out a most exquisite revenge (resulting in prison time) against the treacherous Claude Becker.
And I bought the idea that it was due to this meticulous, five-year planning that it was executed smoothly.
The team that Miss Ocean put together each had different skills and abilities, which were needed for the job. The writing, casting, and acting was so well done that I believed each crook recruited really had the skills and capabilities that their characters were purported to have.
For me, exquisite, meticulous planning by a really, really, really smart, determined, and vengeance-fuelled Debbie Ocean plus the right personnel, with the right attitude, and the right skill sets equals: SUCCESS!
I really liked Anne Hathaway in this film.
There were snags. The goal was the get a necklace, worth tens of millions of dollars, from around the neck of Anne Hathaway (Daphne Kluger).
Those of you who saw this film will recall that Bullock recruited a master pickpocket. But, it turns out that the necklace cannot be removed with a simple snap. It takes a magnet! The team had to adjust for that.
This made it necessary to give Daphne Kluger a slight case of food poisoning, so that she would crumble over a toilet and heave. This way, the pickpocket, disguised as a hotel employee, could "come to her assistance," helping her and soothing her, while she used the magnet to remove the necklace.
Once the necklace turned up missing, the hotel was locked down by the special security detail assigned to protect it.
In order to extricate themselves from that trap, the tech person of the team had to come through with the replica of the necklace, based on its scanning. It took time for the special equipment to scan and thereby comprehend how to copy the necklace.
Then, they had to get the necklace into the hotel and "find it" somewhere plausible.
One last quick thing
James Corden is in this film, playing an insurance investigator, who is very familiar with Debbie Ocean's family --- in a professional capacity.
Some people might see the interaction between his character and Debbie Ocean as unrealistic. But again, I bought it.
I bought the idea that Debbie Ocean is so likeable, charming, and charismatic that even the insurance investigator was not overly anxious to bust her and send her to prison, after she just spent five years "inside." He tells her that if she just tells him where the necklace is, he will return it, saying that he found it in a dumpster somewhere, or something.
Anyway, the result of that conversation was a win-win for both Debbie Ocean and the insurance investigator.
She arranges for him to retrieve "part" of the necklace and make a relatively big arrest. This part of the necklace is "discovered" in the home of the treacherous Claude Becker.
He is taken off to prison, Sandra Bullock and her team go free, and they all enjoy millions of dollars, destined to live happily ever after, as it should be!
Thank you for reading!