Franchise sidequels are a risky venture but Ocean's 8 proves Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, and their band of merry thieves can steal the show -- especially in 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray! Director Gary Ross keeps an eye on the show-stopping glitz and glamor of the Met Gala while never losing focus what amounts to being a clever and humorous heist flick that sits nicely alongside the previous trilogy. Warner Bros. gives the film a beautiful 4K Dolby Vision presentation that offers up a clear improvement over its 1080p counterpart with a terrific audio mix to match with a halfway decent assortment of bonus features to accessorize this great release. If you enjoyed Clooney and his boys give Bullock and her gals a shot. Ocean's 8 is just good popcorn fun. Recommended.
"If you're going to have a problem with stealing, then you're probably not going to like the rest of this conversation."
Debbie Ocean (Sandar Bullock) just got out of jail. She did her time after she got pinned for a scam her ex-boyfriend Claude (Richard Armitage) pulled. In jail, she spent her time wisely and productively, not becoming a reformed member of society, but instead planning a heist so daring her brother Danny wouldn't even attempt - robbing the Met Gala. Specifically, the invaluable diamond necklace actress Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) is going to wear. To pull it off she's going to need a crack crew including her old pal Lou (Cate Blanchett), the washed-up fashion designer Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter), Amita (Mindy Kaling), Nine Ball (Rihanna), Constance (Awkwafina), and Tammy (Sarah Paulson). With a thousand guests and an expert security team roaming around, what could possibly go wrong?
I was a bit apprehensive about another Oceans film added to the mix without any of the original cast with the seemingly arbitrary push for a ladies-only gang of thieves. Thankfully Gary Ross and his co-writer Olivia Milch found a way to make the adventures of Sandra Bullock's Debbie Ocean fit within the world of Clooney's Daniel Ocean. Making them not only siblings but the offspring of a long line of thieves and con artists opens up the Ocean's world beyond the narrowly confined adventures of the previous film.
While 8 plays on the possibility that Danny has died, it very much leaves that window open for Clooney to make a return should things move along. But not only Clooney, as it's revealed dear old dad had some sticky fingers and is also possibly still alive, he too could come back for a family reunion of sorts. If they go this path I would cast Clint Eastwood (big longshot there) as an older variation of his Thunderbolt and Lightfoot character just for the fun of it. The point is - there's a lot of room left to explore new characters and new crimes. And given the returns on this outing, I'd wager fans would be up for some more thieving fun with Bullock's Debbie Ocean.
Like any good heist movie, the devil's in the details so I don't want to go into any depth there suffice to say that it's pretty intricate and actually a lot of fun to watch the pieces move into place. The whole cast worked for me -- even Rihanna's hacker Nine Ball -- but who probably proved to be the most fun was Helena Bonham Carter as the passé designer Rose Weil. She's the perfect send-up of the fashion industry without being too cartoonish but carries on with an entertainingly comical cluelessness that shows her range when she gets a great character to play with(outside of a Tim Burton flick). Carter really goes full out while Bullock proves herself a stable leader for this ragtag bunch.
If I have a small complaint I would like to see rectified for future installments is that Oceans 8 lacked a sense of urgency to it. Even though 11, 12, and 13 all were pretty predictable, there was at least a measure of "this plan could go wrong" to drive some tension and excitement. There are a couple moments that fit that bill with 8, but nothing really sticks for long, or at least long enough to make you feel like the plan could actually fall apart. Bullock goes in confident that her plan will work and remains so throughout. Part of the problem with this is I'd say that Ross maybe gave too much of an inside view to the audience of the plans. Each of the previous films left a few elements seemingly up in the air so that when they came together there was a surprise. But if that really is the only complaint I've got, it's not a big one as the rest of the film is a gas and after watching a couple times through now I still enjoy it. It's not as good as, say, Ocean's 11 or 13, but I'd put it above 12 in the franchise scale. There isn't a tragic scene like Julia Roberts pretending to be herself so 8 at least knew of one deep and perilous pitfall to avoid.
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Oceans 8 steals the show on 4K courtesy of Warner Bros. in a two-disc 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray + Blu-ray + Digital set. The film is pressed onto a BD-66 disc and is housed in a black eco-friendly case with identical slipcover artwork. The disc loads directly to a static image main menu with traditional navigation options. All bonus features are only present on the standard Blu-ray disc. The included digital copy redeems 4K through Movies Anywhere.
Where the 1080p Blu-ray for Ocean's 8 already looked pretty great, the image gets a scene-stealing upgrade with this 2160p HEVC/H.265 transfer with HDR10 and Dolby Vision. According to the tech specs I was able to locate, the film was captured at 3.4K - but I couldn't locate the resolution of the Digital Intermediate. Without succumbing to speculation about the DI source being 2K or 4K, I'll just simply state that there is an immediate and notable improvement in finer details. Moving from the Blu-ray to the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc, I wasn't expecting too much, but from the first shot of Bullock's Debbie Ocean sitting down at her parole hearing, you can appreciate the uptick in resolution. It becomes more apparent as the film moves along and you get to see the dresses the ladies get to wear and the lavish exhibits at the Met Gala.
On top of all that, Dolby Vision does what it does best by allowing you to really appreciate the film's impressive color range. The biggest immediate note I saw was the improvement in flesh tones when Bullock first appears. While she already looked healthy, there's a more natural tone to her and her orange prison uniform really pops. As a whole colors zip off the screen with some terrific primaries. Reds are particularly poppy; the red on the vodka bottles Lou's girls are watering down really shine. If you're into fashion this image is colorful eye candy.
When the film hits the Met Gala it's a colorful feast for the eyes. Not only do the colors shine but the film's black levels and contrasty whites are really vivid. The White stairs leading to the gallery are perfect white without any blooming. The candlelit dinner offers up some deep inky black levels with some terrific shadow separating giving the image a notable three-dimensional sense of depth. The hazy black levels that I mentioned in the SDR Blu-ray review have also been mitigated allowing for a little better sense of depth and detail to appear in those scenes as well. All around this is a great looking movie made all the more enjoyable in 4K with Dolby Vision.
Ocean's 8 gets some great bang for its buck with an on-point Dolby Atmos track. Thankfully, unlike other recent WB releases, you do not have to select the Atmos track over a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track - there isn't a DTS track at all so if you're not Atmos ready, the mix defaults to a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix. If there is one little thing I feel should be addressed at the outset is that I felt like this mix was initially a little on the soft side. Not Disney-soft by any stretch, but I did have to punch it up a notch or two. From then on everything was perfect. Dialogue is clear and crisp throughout without any issues with overlapping audio elements. Sound effects and scoring are lively keeping the film's energy going. The mix is at it's best during busy city scenes, Lou's club, and in particular at the Met Gala - anywhere where there is a constant flurry of activity, the mix handles the sense of imaging and spacing perfectly giving a full object-based soundscape.
This Atmos mix also makes good use of the verticals. Initially, the extra channels felt like they're really only being used to offer up more space for the mix, but once the movie gets really going and any time there is a lot of activity on the screen they open up and get to work. The Met Gala sequences are a blast as there are tons of people mingling, servers moving, kitchen crews and a lot of camera snaps and shouting press to fill the scenes. There are times where the mix may not call too much attention to itself, but when it counts most this Atmos track delivers.
Bonus features for Ocean's 8 may not be plentiful or lengthy but they're at least above average quality. The deleted scenes don't offer much, but each of the production featurettes gives you enough of a behind the scenes look at the various aspects of the production to be much better than your average by the numbers EPK talking head filler. All bonus features are located on the included Blu-ray disc.
Sandra Bullock and her crack crew of damsel thieves fit nicely within the cinematic world started by Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney 17 years ago. As a sidequel of sorts, Oceans 8 lets a couple familiar faces come and go while allowing the new cast and crew under the helm of writer and director Gary Ross show they're up to the challenge of pulling off a fun heist flick. There's plenty of room and reason to enjoy this entry and hopefully a couple more adventures with this new team of thieves. Warner Bros. delivers a beautiful 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Ocean's 8 with a sparkling 2160p Dolby Vision transfer and a lively and effective Dolby Atmos mix to match. While they may not be plentiful, the bonus features are pretty decent. If you're in the mood for some easygoing popcorn-munching fun, give this a spin. Recommended.