The Monuments Men (2014)

Review The Monuments Men

Moviestars are an important factor to get audiences in the cinema seats and movies with a huge cast of stars often mean lots of success. With actors like George Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin and Bob Balaban you can’t say that The Monuments Men lacks stars. The film has been directed by George Clooney and is set during the second world war. It is based on a true story. Despite all that the movie didn’t have the success the studio expected and most reviews weren’t very positive. Still I was curious to find out if this movie really was that bad.

Review The Monuments Men

During the second world war Hitler had a plan to create a huge museum showing the best art in the world. That art was stolen from Jewish families and are museums and transported to Germany. There it was hidden until the building would be finished. George Clooney plays Frank Stokes, a man who sees art as a cultural expression which needs to be protected. He manages to convince the army to set up a special team who will track down the stolen art, make sure it is secure and give it back to the rightful owner. The team sets of to Europe to start their search. This should result in an exciting film.

Review The Monuments Men

The issue with The Monuments Men is that Clooney spends way too little time on setting up the team and getting to know the characters. In a couple of shots all the members are quickly introduced, but except their job you don’t get any other information about them. You would like to find out why they were chosen and why they are important. You don’t know their expertise or any background information. This is the case for every character resulting in a film in which you don’t care much about these men and their search, including the obstacles in their way.

Not every actor gets enough to do. Bill Murray and Bob Balaban have a couple of short scenes together, but it adds nothing to the bigger story, except for an attempt for some comedy and trying to evoke some sentimental feelings. Despite that the movie isn’t a complete failure. The sets look great and the acting itself is solid. There are some tense moments. Still you can’t ignore the feeling as you are watching this that there is something missing.
I started to wonder how the art really is if you compare it to all the pain and suffering the second world war brought and the amount of lives which were lost. It felt like Ocean’s Eleven during the war and that tone, despite some dramatic moments, felt wrong. George Clooney can direct, but with a better script he could have delivered something better.

12 thoughts on “The Monuments Men (2014)

  1. Lots of people have had a bad reaction to this movie. I absolutely loved it. I understand the argument about the characters that everyone is making. I don’t necessarily agree with it though. If we started fleshing out every one of these characters to the degree that some have wanted, we would have a 3 1/2 hour movie. I think it gives us just enough and keeps the focus on the task instead of the characters. I also really love how it hearkened back to the old buddy war movies of the late 60s and early 70s. There was nostalgia throughout this movie for me and that was a big selling point as well. I know I’m one of the only ones but I am a proud defender of the movie.

    • Let me back Keith up on this. It tries to cover the story in a coherent and amusing way in a practical amount of time. I think the list of names probably created expectations that could not be fulfilled, but I thought it was an effective film and very entertaining.

    • I would not call it bad, but somehow I expected something bigger from it. Well, I don’t mind long movies if that means more fleshed out characters. I agree that it does have that vibe of the old buddy war movies although I did not feel nostalgic like you did 🙂

  2. Agree totally. Clooney did not seem to know what tone to go for with this either. So it is sort of a comedy but we are meant to also find it really tense and be totally invested in it too.

    With this and Transcendence, it has been a good year for woeful movies with great casts.

  3. I sort of lost interest in this film. I plan on seeing it someday but your lukewarm recommendation is pretty much what I’ve heard. Nice review.

  4. I felt the same way about this one. It didn’t seem to know if it was a drama or comedy. I think you can do both but the tone was all wrong in this one. Like you, I wanted something more.

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