I personally love historical movies, especially those set in the 1940’s. Seeing as “The Monuments Men” is set in the end of World War II, and boasts an impressive cast that includes George Clooney, Matt Damon, John Goodman and Bill Murray, it had all the makings of a fantastic film. Unfortunately, it does not live up to its lofty ambitions.
Directed by and starring Clooney, “Monuments Men” is the true story of a team of artists and architects assigned to find and protect paintings and statues that have been stolen by the Nazis.
The film was originally slated to be released in December of last year; however, it was postponed until this February in order to finish editing the special effects. When a film willingly bows out of Oscar season, it is usually not a great sign. And after seeing the film, my suspicions and worries were justified.
The movie is not awful, but it just falls short on almost every level it was striving for. The trailers implied it was going to be a blend of comedy and drama; that was in fact one of the reasons the movie was delayed, to properly edit the two genres. Every attempt at humor falls flat, or the scenes are just plain unfunny. This is hard to blame on the actors, who feature established comedians such as Murray and Goodman. Instead, the fault lies on the screenplay (written by Clooney and his production partner Grant Heslov), for writing jokes and one-liners that are as stale as a week-old sandwich.
The pacing and narrative are also a large issue. Because there are so many characters in the film, it is hard to feel any real connection to them; it also makes the story arch a little stretched, and thus slow. There are quite a few dull moments in this movie, most of them coming whenever Cate Blanchett’s French art expert is on screen. Her side story however is uninteresting and, for the most part, unneeded.
The film does have some positives. The chemistry between the star studded cast is at times entertaining to watch, and all the actors do seem to try their hardest. The production value and scenery are also very well-done, and at times you are immersed in the ruins of a bombarded, war-torn European city. It was also interesting to see the pictures of the real life Monuments Men at the end of the film.
Its ambitions are large and its intentions are pure, but “The Monuments Men” fails to be anything more than a history lesson, and more often than not it is a pretty boring one. If you are a lover of historical art and monuments, then this may be worth checking out once it hits video. Otherwise this is an ever-so-slightly entertaining, albeit forgettable, George Clooney vehicle.
Critics Rating: 5/10