Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Monuments Men - Theatrical Review

The Monuments Men (2013)
Action, Biography, Drama, 118 minutes
Directed by George Clooney
Starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, John Goodman, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Bob Balaban, Dimitri Leonidas, Jean Dujardin and Hugh Bonneville

I was trying decide whether to see The Monuments Men in theaters, or simply wait for the Blu-ray. On the one hand, it has a tremendous cast and features some of my favorite actors, but reviews have been generally negative. I eventually chose to make up my own mind.

I'm still not sure if that was a good decision.

The movie is based on a true story, and tells the tale of how a small group of men were charged with the task of recovering artwork stolen by the Nazi's during World War II. I'm tired of stories about Nazi's, but I have a lot of respect for people who fought and still fight for our freedom. Art should be for everyone and I had not heard this story before, so I have to admit that I had high hopes for the movie.

Nobody from the talented cast dominated the story. This was a true ensemble piece with screen time being shared. We are shown a recruiting stage, a planning stage, and then the attempted execution of those plans. Unfortunately, the drama doesn't really build in an effective way. In fact, I'm not certain what the movie was trying to be. There were frequent moments of comedy, interspersed with mystery, brief action, and adventure elements. With all of these important works of art at stake, I somehow failed to be completely invested in the story.

It's hard to pinpoint why it fell flat for me. I rather enjoyed the performances of the principal actors, but I didn't feel much tension during the search, or triumph when works of art were recovered.

The closing credits showed photographs of the real heroes who were involved in the mission 70 years ago.

The most memorable character was James Granger (Matt Damon), who interacted in an important way with Parisian museum curator, Claire Simone (Cate Blanchett), to uncover vital information for the mission. Blanchett's character was based on Rose Valland.

The Monuments Men is an important and heroic story which meanders along without ever becoming riveting. I would watch it again, but I don't think I need to own it.

Overall score 3/5

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