Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Monuments Men – review

The Monuments Men is a World War II film directed by George Clooney.  The cast is very talented yet they feel underdeveloped. The humor is lackluster and filled with scenes that would have been better left on the cutting room floor. It tries very hard to hammer its message of the importance of art, but sadly the message is muddled between a fairly dull storyline.

In 1943 Frank Stokes, played by George Clooney, convinces the President that it is important to gather a team together to protect the art of Western Civilization from being destroyed during the war.  Frank gathers a team of curators, sculptors, and art historians to join the military. Together they seek out to find art that has been stolen by the Nazis and return the pieces to their rightful owners. After the struggle to find where the art is being taken, they find out that Hilter has made an order to destroy all the art if he should die or the Nazi regime should fall. On top of all that, the stakes are raised even further because they also need to prevent the Soviets from taking the stolen art as war trophies.

The acting is fine but the movie seems longer than it actually is.  The story drags and unfortunately the characters are not developed well enough to be interesting. Each character has their own side plot, but none of the individual plots are developed enough to make you invested.  In addition, the film tosses in standard “war is hell” tropes that just about every war film has. The film even goes so far as to force an emotional reaction by showing gold teeth and gold rings taken from victims of the Holocaust. 

The plot lines are muddled in The Monuments Men.  Cate Blanchett’s character chases her fleeing, Nazi boss and stares him down as he fires bullets at her. This intriguing event is never explained. From here, her story jumps around as the plot dictates. Instead of elaborating on something interesting, they chose to keep a gag regarding Matt Damon stepping on a land mine.  The tone of this scene (and a few others like it) would have worked better in a film like Ocean’s Eleven.

As a whole, The Monuments Men is not a bad movie.  It’s definitely a movie that would have benefited from another run through editing. It is a fine movie for rental if you are in the mood for a lighthearted movie about World War II.  This probably would have worked a lot better if it were seen through the eyes of a different director. Bottom line, the tone of this movie was not carried out well, and in the end did not work for film of this subject matter.

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