THE MONUMENTS MEN (2014)

themonumentsmen

Starring: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Cate Blanchett, Hugh Bonneville, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban. Dimitri Leonidas

Directed by: George Clooney

Synopsis:Β An unlikely World War II platoon is tasked to rescue art masterpieces from Nazi thieves and return them to their owners.

I went into this with the weight of critical disappointment hanging round my neck. Perhaps because of this, I actually really enjoyed The Monuments Men. I thought it was charming and, despite being perhaps a little slow in places, entertaining. It was Saving Private Ryan meets Ocean’s Eleven.

The story is of a gang of seven art professionals tasked with finding stolen and missing art pieces behind enemy lines during World War Two. Hitler has decided he would like some of the greatest art ever created, and it’s time to get it back before it’s destroyed forever. Whether you think it was worth it depends on how much you value art I guess. But, as Clooney says in the movie, it’s not just art, it’s our history.

The thing that excites me most about this picture, I think, is that it’s quite reminiscent of those great Sixties war flicks, like The Dirty Dozen and Kelly’s Heroes. The ones that are more about ‘the gang’ than war itself. The rag-tag group of guys thrown together in exceptional circumstances. It even has one of those jaunty ‘Great Escape’ style theme songs as well.

Maybe the film didn’t go down well because the stakes didn’t seem high enough? After all, Clooney and co are pitched in to battle to find art, rather than save lives or win the war. So, was Clooney wrong? Art clearly isn’t as important as human lives. Which is right of course. But, the film still won me over anyway, with it’s camaraderie and jovial moments and too a few emotional moments as well, such as when Bill Murray hears a message from his grand daughters.

The acting is good, as would be expected with a cast as good as this. The atmosphere of the film, besides the aforementioned war flicks, reminded me, as many Clooney films do, of the good natured Newman/Redford films. That easy going nature with a slight humorous edge.

I guess if the film flopped it could be because of the misleading promotion campaign, which suggested the film would be a riotous heist movie. In truth, it isn’t really a heist movie. Nor is it really a war movie I suppose.Β But whatever kind of movie it is, I still enjoyed it the comedic interplay between Murray and Balaban, and the friendship of Goodman and Dujardin, and the as usual cool of Clooney.

4 clappers

 

 

About thomasjford

I like Movies and Music and most things popular culture.

32 comments

  1. Want to see this movie so badly. People say it’s not so great and others say its good.

  2. Interesting to read your thoughts.

  3. The cast made it better to watch, even if it was clear that there should have been more to help them out. Especially for Bill Murray. That guy always needs more to do. Good review.

  4. Lucky me. I do not rely on critics; only on a pretty limited number of fellow bloggers I can trust regarding their reviews. πŸ˜‰
    Great review, Tom.

  5. I watched this film. It is so historically incarcerate that it hurts.
    And if G.C. wanted to make film about those guys (And the point was that few gave their lives for Worlds heritage) why changing their names?

    • There are hundreds of films that are ‘based on real events’ where the characters have different names. I don’t know the real story, but having watched the film I don’t get the impression it was aiming to be anything more than an Oceans Eleven style WW2 movie, of which I enjoyed it.

  6. I think it’s refreshing to juxtapose a seemingly trivial pursuit against a backdrop of something like war. You could argue that Saving Private Ryan wasn’t worth all those men that died saving Private Ryan as well. Which of course, is argued in that very film. Thanks for the review – I’m curious about Clooney as a film maker. Sometimes he gets involved in some pretty weird shit and I’m not sure I’ll always get into it.

    • Totally agree. I don’t think it’s good practice to compartmentalise movies into just one genre. Not all War movies have to be serious, as MASH would attest. Admittedly Monuments Men is based on a true story, but none of them were painted in a bad light. As for Clooney, I really like his acting and directing. He brings a real classic seventies cool and easy going vibe to his films, reminiscent of Newman and Redford etc

      • He’s very good at playing an intelligent male who lays the verbal smack-down on idiotic henchmen, that’s for sure. I mean, don’t get me wrong – I love it. The only time I really remember him playing against that type was in The Descendants, which I thought was so-so. Sideways is my favourite film of all time, so I was surprised that The Descendants was comparatively … flat. I’ll have to check out more Clooney-directed films! I think I watched Ides of March but didn’t respond to it as much as I hoped to.

  7. Fine revue. I was hesitant about seeing this film, but I like that “all the boys together on a mission” genre, so will put it on my list to see.

  8. Nice review pal. I really wasn’t a fan of this one. Tonally I thought it was a bit of a mess, it just didn’t know what type of film it wanted to be, serious or slapstick. I agree with you about Murray and Balaban, they were good together, but there wasn’t much else going on for me.

  9. Abbi

    I struggled with this one. It lacked character development and the dialogue was really flat. I’m glad you found something to enjoy in it though.

  10. I’ve been waiting to rent this. When it came out, all I heard was bad reviews except for a few who had the ability to look at the film as if it had originated in the 50s or 60s. With that lens, I bet the film is just fine. This seems to be your take on it. Personally, one of my favorite war films is ‘The Dirty Dozen’ and I adore M*A*S*H. Looking forward to seeing this. Nice post.

  11. Nice review πŸ™‚ The cast seems amazing so I think I will eventually get around to it!

  12. I actually was going to ignore this based on the reviews. I do not trust RT…due to half of them being total monkeys. I’ve seen some 1/5’s for Neighbors and after watching it today…I think those idiots should just f*** off with their lameness! Yet if the blogging world and audience is also slamming a movie, I tend to lose hope! This one got some tough criticism from everyone! I might watch it though when bored!

  13. The movie was good but not from the critics point of view…..

  14. Great review, really want to see this πŸ™‚

  15. Hmm well, I have had the pleasure of viewing the documentary “Hunting Hitler’s Stolen Treasures: The Monuments Men” twice now, so I think I will just stick with that!

  16. Tom

    Sound review Thomas, I have to say I was letdown by this but lookikng back it could have been a case of me misunderstanding what the film was supposed to be about. As far as being that classic “rag-tag group of friends who band together in times of crisis” it really succeeds. There’s not a cast member here that I do not like. I think I was just expecting it to be even more engaging with these kinds of names. But it was still pretty enjoyable though.

    • I can see why people wouldn’t have been crazy about it, but I just saw it for what it was, which was a Dirty Dozen style ‘gang’ movie. Those are my favourite types.

  17. I was going to see the movie soon so it’s nice to finally see a positive review of it πŸ™‚ I’m not a biggest fan of films directed by Clooney, but at least the cast is always the saving grace.

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