There's a lot to enjoy in Ocean's 12 - mostly Soderbergh's direction, cinematography and some excellent dialogue riffs. The scene with Robbie Coltrane is superb, and Clooney and Pitt's chemistry is second to none.
But I'd stop way short of calling it a classic, and I laugh in the face of the notion that its narrative shortcomings are the result of a deliberate and contrary decision to piss off people who enjoyed the first movie for its neat structure.
Warners wanted a sequel, they dug out an old script that John Woo never used (Honor Among Thieves, I believe) and retooled it.
And it shows.
The first film is effortless. It's nimble, and smart, and tightly paced. The build up and pay off of the heist is almost flawless, and it actually makes sense. The audience is invited in, and the only bit of information withheld is how they plan to get away with it - though even that can be figured out: "We're just going to walk out of there?" "Yeah".
Everything clicks together like clockwork, every cast member has a part to play and a moment to shine. It's a wonderfully polished piece of entertainment - and deliberately so. The idea that Soderbergh would want to use the sequel to punish viewers who enjoyed it as such is nonsense.
While the sequel is clearly aiming for a looser European feel, the script isn't up to the job of marrying the laissez faire plot to the snappy dialogue and characters. Scenes which should be charming vignettes feel directionless and adrift, characters are included because they were in the first movie, but the sequel has nothing for them to do - because the script they cannibalised didn't have room for that many characters. It's the George and Brad show (with a special appearance from Matt Damon), and while that's still fun, it's contrary to the vibe of the first movie.
The Julia-as-Julia conceit strays too far into Hollywood smuggery, the first heist is appalingly staged and explained while the twist relies on information the audience has absolutely no way of knowing - "Oh, by the way, all this other stuff happened but we didn't show it to you. Because then the twist wouldn't work." It's not quite as bad as The Village, but it's in the same territory of audience disdain.
I think Ocean's 12 is the better shot movie, and perhaps the better acted (among those deemed worthy of screen time), but to say it's the superior film is something I'll never agree with.