Review: Ocean's 8 is more like Ocean's ain't

Perhaps it's due to my growing up in the Spice Girls era of 'Girl Power', but the latest female incarnation of the Ocean's franchise left me somewhat underwhelmed.

It certainly doesn't feel like the fault of the star-studded cast of criminals, played by lady legends that include Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Mindy Kaling and Rihanna.

This new squad is smart, sassy and multi-faceted, even when contending with a legacy of chemistry and comic timing that began with Oceans Eleven.

Perhaps we should instead point our perfectly manicured fingers at the director, who - surprise - is very much a man.

Gary Ross brought us Lassie and The Hunger Games, but somehow both of those films had more nail-biting moments than this one.

There appears to have been a slight failure of nerve on the part of the filmmakers to push the heist to the dizzying heights of disorder and disbelief that make those first films great.

We do get sparkly jewels, stunning dresses and some damn good cameos thanks to the Met Gala setting; but we're missing explosions, fights and jaw-dropping twists.

Why can't we have both?

Even the Spice Girls got to jump over London's Tower Bridge in a double-decker bus in their movie.

A big diamond necklace feels embarrassingly stereotypical as the target of an all-female theft, but credit must be given to the characters for taking matters into their own hands.

We know that diamonds are a girl's best friend, but we don't usually see women get them like this.

However, while it's clear the girls have things under control, male characters keep creeping in at crucial moments, as if to say, "You chicks doing OK all by yourselves?"

Whether or not the film is a feminist cinematic masterpiece, these women did a pretty great thing just by showing up - the norms of an ensemble cast have been disrupted, the door for more leading ladies nudged open slightly wider.  

In the end, however, it's not enough to just have an all-female cast - the powers that be need to be brave enough to elevate the script and the story in order to compete.

By the time Ocean's Thirteen rolled around, the boys were angling for a pay out of over US$500 million.

In the fourth instalment, the girls are only after a measly US$150 million - talk about a gender pay gap.

* Ocean's 8 opened in New Zealand cinemas this week.