Title – The Monuments Men (2014)
Director – George Clooney (Good Night and Good Luck)
Cast – George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville, Bob Balaban, Dimitri Leonidas
Plot – Based on a true story, The Monuments Men sees a group of art scholars, architects and artist’s band together under the command of Frank Stokes (Clooney) and head to Europe with the aim of persevering and finding stolen art in the midst of the concluding period of World War 2.
“If you destroy their history, you destroy their achievements and it’s as if they never existed”
Review by Eddie on 17/10/2014
If there was ever a movie that screamed Oscars, critical fawning and audience love, surely it would be The Monuments Men? You can only imagine the pitch to frothing studio execs, World War 2 – check, adventure – check, an all-star cast lead and directed by George Clooney – check, art – check, hijinks – check. The whole package was there for Monuments Men to be the awards baiting, audience feel good hit of the year but somewhere, somehow the film become a meandering mediocre effort that while enjoyable is less the sum of its very interesting parts.
One of the most tonally uneven films you’re likely to see this year, Monuments has an awkward and unsubstantial beginning that sadly never eventuates into anything more than a slight care or interest thanks to a haphazard displaying of the events at its disposal. Clooney has over a period of years now showcased himself as a fine director but much like his flop Leatherheads, Monuments shows him at his most vulnerable, a director unsure of how to use his cast and transform his story to screen. What should’ve been one of this year’s most endearing team ups of actors is somehow allowed to grow apart into a rag tag everyman for himself like gang with not enough screen time granted to anyone in particular to make a real mark. Murray and Bob Balaban make the most of their artistry types and Goodman has his moments but even these fine character actors struggle to really come to grips with their players in a story that deserved so much more.
Telling an oft forgotten and incredibly interesting side to the World War 2 story in the form of Hitler’s fascination with collecting art and in many instances destroying it and the lengths brave men went to to save these parts of human history is a tale well worth the big screen treatment. While Clooney and his team at times convey this sense of purpose it would be wrong to suggest they make the most of it. Clooney seems content in going for easy emotional wrenching scenes (a scene set during Xmas example of this) but does so without really earning it. For a film like this to succeed, audiences need to be fully invested in the plight and the characters, something Monuments just does not draw out of us despite it’s easy to like attitude and breezy men on a mission structure.
A huge disappointment yet still a movie far better than your average jaunt, The Monuments Men may be perfect for a night in with a movie yet you can’t help but shake the feeling this one should have been oh so much more than it is, you can bet your bottom dollar that the studio executives felt the same. Frustrating and underplayed yet always watchable, The Monuments Men is so close yet so far movie making at its very best.
3 never to be got Oscar nominations out of 5