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The Monuments Men is directed by George Clooney, staring himself, Matt
Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh
Bonneville, and Cate Blanchett. It tells of a group of soldiers tasked
to locate and preserve pieces of art that have been stolen by the Nazis
during World War II.
It's no secret that The Monuments Men was one of everyone's most anticipated movies of 2013, and looked like a solid awards contender, until it was pushed to a February release date, purportedly due to the need for more time to be spent on the special effects.
The truth is, The Monuments Men could be, and really should be much more entertaining than it is. The best part of the film, and at the same time, its major problem, is the script. There are seemingly continuous laughs coming from quick one liners and witty character interactions, which keeps the audience somewhat engaged, although with such bleak subject matter, it's debatable that a movie dealing with the eradication of an entire culture's achievements should be as lighthearted as it is. But the flaw with the script is that it seems like the first act eats up almost all of it's running time. It's as if the film is missing large portions of the actual plot to make room for massive amounts of unnecessary exposition. Secondly, the film's characters are stale and one dimensional at best. I invite anyone who sees the film to wait an hour after finishing the movie, and try to remember even three of the character's names or what their role in the mission was. There isn't a moment in the entire film where it isn't simply John Goodman or Bill Murray dressed as World War II soldiers and not fleshed out characters. Albeit all of the actors are exceedingly fun to watch, I assume that just watching all of these actors talk together at a press conference would be just about as entertaining.
The Monuments Men isn't even close to the worst movie of 2014 by a long shot, even though it is only February, but it's arguably the most disappointing film of the year as of yet. I take no pleasure in saying this, but it's noble intentions fell utterly short due to awful pacing, and forgettable characters. I haven't read the book, but I have to think that it must be much better constructed and does this fantastic real life story more justice.
"The Monuments Men" is a group of men (in real life around 350, and in
this film 7) who are tasked with saving the historically and culturally
significant monuments, fine arts and archives during World War II. They
have to find and return that which the French hid and the Germans were
finding and stealing and then hiding. And the film decided to tell this
The film took a really long time to get going as they wanted it to be about the men that took on this task. But they changed their names and I also couldn't tell you a single characteristic of any of them. The men were paired off so they each had their own region to investigate, but none of that was interesting. The worst part was giving James Granger (Matt Damon) and Claire Simon (Cate Blanchett, representing the real- life heroine Rose Valland) a love story. They did have a reason for such nonsense, or how about just sticking with how it actually happened.
George Clooney has said the film is about 80% accurate, and that seems fair enough. But the problem isn't the historical inaccuracy; the problem is that the cheap humour diminishes the very people and story they're trying to empower. The humour was just a handful of lines wanting to kill Hitler and standing on a landmine. It just didn't make the film entertaining. The story could have done that but it didn't become interesting until they started discovering where the Germans hid the art. Coincidentally, the same point when the film started following the real story.
"The Monuments Men" very clearly wanted to help remember an important part of history and spark a debate about the cost of war on soldiers, civilians, and history and society. The debate is raging on, but the film missed the level of entertainment by not trusting its audience to be interested in exactly what happened.
In bringing together elements from Inglourious Basterds, Ocean's Eleven
and Museum Hours, George Clooney certainly had plenty of opportunity
for a rich and interesting story. War heroes who appreciate fine art
played by the likes of Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray and John
Goodman (plus a few "that guy"s), attempting to steal back priceless
works of art from the Nazis, it sounds amazing.
So what went wrong? Well, to begin with, for a movie about a team, we're given very little time with them as a group. Almost immediately they pair off on their own little adventures. Instead of using these exploits to let us know a little more about the characters as individuals, we get the usual oddball pairings and some mildly amusing, but ultimately hollow, vignettes. Even when we lose some of our team, it really feels like nothing more than just something that happened on the trip, like "oh, and I also saw a horse." We have hardly any sense of them as a group and far less about them as people. The only character whose motivations we can understand is the one played by Cate Blanchett, but her limited chemistry with Matt Damon dooms what little redemptive quality her character had.
Also, and particularly troubling for a movie involving art, George Clooney's lens has little reverence for the work it shows. Though the film heavy-handedly ponders whether a piece of art is worth a human life, the camera never does. Even when a character lays down his life for a sculpture, it comes off less dramatic than inevitable. The film treats the works as being mostly historically significant and never finds that lover's gaze that tells the audience why.
What we're left with is a bag of spare parts. It's a popcorn movie with no setpieces. A war movie with no battles. A heist movie with no scheming. An art movie with no inspiration. Were they to have found some of Inglourious Basterds' bluster, Ocean's Eleven smarts or Museum Hour's insight, they may have found a formula that works, but that's not the movie we have here. I'll be damned if George Clooney doesn't look good in a moustache, though.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you want to see George Clooney play George Clooney, Matt Damon play Matt Damon, Bill Murray play Bill Murray, John Goodman play John Goodman, and Jean Dujardin play a clichéd Frenchmen (right down to the French beret and scarf)...in a incredibly mediocre film based on a compelling true story that's badly written and directed, go see "The Monuments Men". It's an "Oceans 11" team of art curators, historians and architects sent into France and Germany. Their mission? "Saving Private Art". The obstacles? Almost none, once they knew where to look. It was apparently the easiest art heist in history. The plus side? it's a stretch...but I did like Hugh Bonneville playing someone kinder and gentler than Lord Grantham in "Downton Abbey"...and Cate Blanchett? She's always great, but she truly doesn't have much to do here, other than speak with a French accent and look irritated. Don't be fooled by the star-studded cast like I was. This movie is a waste of your money and time. All of these actors have made far superior films. And this story would have been better served by a more accomplished screenwriter and director.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film is definitely not terrible but missed a big opportunity at
making something memorable. And needless to say it unfortunately has a
lot of problems that do it (and its intriguing story) a huge
disservice. Before listing the problems I will note its positives: The
acting, cast, direction and visuals are all good. OK...
And now the problems:
1) The quips and zingers every few minutes: Is this a sit-com or a drama about Nazis stealing art? It was hard enough to believe any of these characters are allowed to simply meander around Europe without strict supervision but even less believable that these men snap out witty one- liners back and forth after every few minutes. And the problem is that these one-liners are often during times of implied danger or tension, which gets broken immediately with the comedy relief.
2) The musical score/tone is absolutely bizarre and out-of-place in many areas: When taking on a subject as serious as WW2, it's not a great idea to constantly have happy-go-lucky comedy relief music going on in the background. It really is tonally all over the place and is out of place when considering the message trying to be sent about the importance of human art/culture, etc. Half the time I was expecting either a Broadway musical dance-line to jump out and start kicking their legs in front of the screen or at least see the Rocketeer fly past a Nazi blimp.
3) The one dimensional characters. We learn very little about the actual personalities of the main characters so there is little to invest in, especially between the characters and their relationships. It's hard to feel bad for characters who you don't know and are acting really stupid in very dangerous circumstances. I also felt there were many scenes missing from the film because we never see the main characters even bond or have much meaningful dialog within the first hour of the film, and are expected to cry for characters we do not know and expected to care about relationships we have not established.
4) The villains (are even worse:) The bad guys (Nazis of course) might as well have been twirling around their mustaches and laughing maniacally. Are we to believe that even the "bad guys" in a real historical situation did not have other emotions besides crazy and evil? And as if if the Nazis were not bad enough villains, the writers needed to include a sub-plot with the big bad Russians, who although helped us beat the Nazis, are apparently evil for wanting to take art for themselves, I guess.
5) Missed opportunities: Many scenes have a lot of potential to lead up to something interesting, intense, or memorable. They never deliver in any way, however. Every single moment where there is action,drama, or a threat of danger/death, it is resolved with some type of comic relief or very random exposition designed to move to the next scene as quickly as possible. Very sad to say because every scene starts out with promise, then fails.
6) The heroes/the Title: Not even sure about the accuracy of this film: But if true, the heroes are not even the Monuments Men, but the ONE German-speaking member (hired on a fluke) who figured out where the art was being hidden and the same guy also finds hidden Nazi gold. It should have been named after this one character, the other members are idiots. Any man who steps out of a vehicle in war-torn France to offer a cigarette to a horse, deserves to be shot.
7) The WW2 tropes cliché festival: Yet again another movie showing the "greatest hits" of WW2, relying on its audience to be a bunch of stupid simpletons who only respond to iconic images or names they know from grade school text books. "OH, OMAHA BEACH! OH, BATTLE OF THE BULGE! OH, SCOWLING Hitler! OH PICASSO! THIS ALL MEANS SOMETHING!" .. No, it's time to stop going for the low hanging fruit and bring something unique.
8) "If it weren't for us you'd be speaking German" ... This is an actual line from the movie, directed at a French woman from an American soldier. The problem is that only a few scenes before we see a German Nazi soldier speaking English to that very French woman. So apparently she would have been speaking neither German or French, she'd be speaking English so that the English-speaking audience wouldn't have to read subtitles. Ridiculous jingoistic quips would work fine in a more clever WW2 film, but definitely not this one.
9) Last but not least: George Clooney as Danny Ocean/Prince Charming/Hero Astronaut:
I cannot take him seriously in a WW2 film when he does the whole "I'm not just a pretty face" smooth talking nonsense. In an Ocean's 11 film, yes. He's a good actor, why did he choose to play it like this AGAIN? It's annoying and takes us out of the movie, especially when trying to believe him as a humble hero who cares about art and not just how cool he is.
The movie deserves an A for effort but misses the mark dramatically. The question is: why? The story is evocative and the cast is excellent. Where the movie goes wrong is how it presents the story. The movie attempts to inject a whimsical element in story which is out of context. There was nothing whimsical about the plan to save priceless artwork. Also, the story moves at a slow pace and inspires little if any excitement or drama. The discoveries of the hidden artwork has little dramatic impact, nor do the interpersonal relationships between the characters which in the movie are shallow. Even the attempt at romance comes off as tepid and half-hearted, as well as implausible. The idea of a young, handsome, married American officer, alone in Paris, having dinner in the apartment of an attractive, intelligent, single French woman who made him dinner and not staying for at least another drink is a stretch. True, he is married and his faithfulness is commendable, but still .... The movie does have some strong dramatic moments, but in general the story is bland. Yet despite the movie's drawbacks, it still manages to tell a story about an historical event of great importance and significance, and for that reason alone is worth watching.
Having read the original book from which "Monuments Men" is taken, I was very interested to see the movie. There is a really fascinating and historically important story here, and it could have made a great film. However, soon after the show begins, it all starts to fall apart. The reason? George Clooney. He directed, and he wrote the screenplay. It's amazingly obvious that in neither of these capacities does Clooney know what he is doing. The screenplay is an absolute joke, totally disjointed, disconnected, silly, trite, and incredibly amateurish for a major Hollywood star of Clooney's stature. The same goes for the directing. George Clooney is obviously a guy with a huge ego, capable of fooling himself and a lot of other people who should know better, that he knows what he is doing. Film-making schools should show this movie as a classic example of what not to do. It's fundamentally flawed in every respect. Editing, music, etc.------one is taken aback by the unbelievable ineptness. Co-stars Matt Damon and Bill Murray and John Goodman and the rest of the cast merely parrot their lines in strange, disjointed scenes that beg to be rewritten by someone with a brain in his head. On the one hand, I totally condemn this piece of Hollywood egotistical stupidity, but on the other I heartily recommend it as an example of how bad movies can get in the hands of people with enormous egos. Stick to acting, Clooney---for God's sake don't direct and write screenplays ever again.
The Monuments Men is being too critically shunned. It is not what you expect from watching the previews, but comes through with heartfelt stories that are designed to show you what these men endured. Each of The Monuments Men characters come from the arts world and are driven into action by the need to save precious art works spanning across Europe. Bill Murray is a genius per usual but lacks when it comes to on screen time. I feel as though many characters like John Goodman are overshadowed by the likes of Matt Damon and George Clooney. They make themselves very prominent in the script but often take time away from those who would truly make this film shine (Murray and Goodman). Even though it is not as good as expected it shines in many scenes. I still give it a 8/10
This was a lousy film and George Clooney's performance was really
"stupid". Mr. Slap happy, putting together team of goof balls to save
the worlds plundered art? You've got to be kidding me. After reading
the book I can't believe that Clooney could come away with this kind of
I'm certain if the original Monuments Men could see this film they'd be rolling over in their graves. The movie was totally dis-respectable to those great hero's.
This was a great story that was completely ruined by George Clooney. The National Geo documentary was the real story. I really hate it when they "hollywoodize" true story films and try and turn them into a comedy.
I wouldn't give this film a quarter of a star!!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This much anticipated film is a dud. Too bad, as it had the chance to tell one of the more fascinating stories of WWII. A plodding plot drove a dozen viewers from the theater well before the film's end and Mr. Clooney wasted what could have been, at the very least, an entertaining cast. The thinly developed characters - Bill Murray seemed to have no more than four or five lines - gave the actors nothing with which to work and the viewer next to no emotional connection. I was hoping for a somewhat serious take with a few dashes of Oceans 11/12 and Kelly's Heroes spliced in, but found only one of the more disappointing films of the last few years. And the movie's fixation on cigarettes was a bit over the top. Yes, smoking was a big part of a soldier's life in WWII, but making a smoke part of the supporting cast is a little much. Any interest in this film is probably best sated by waiting for its release on cable. Not recommended.
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