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The Monuments Men

2014-02-17 15:00
What it's about:

Based on the true story of the greatest treasure hunt in history, The Monuments Men is an action drama focusing on an unlikely World War II platoon, tasked by FDR with going into Germany to rescue artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and returning them to their rightful owners. It would be an impossible mission: with the art trapped behind enemy lines, and with the German army under orders to destroy everything as the Reich fell, how could these guys - seven museum directors, curators, and art historians, all more familiar with Michelangelo than the M-1 - possibly hope to succeed? But as the Monuments Men, as they were called, found themselves in a race against time to avoid the destruction of 1000 years of culture, they would risk their lives to protect and defend mankind's greatest achievements

What we thought:

Although loosely based on real soldiers who were tasked to protect buildings and art from being destroyed during WWII, it is hard to reconcile The Monuments Men with the history of World War II and its impact on humanity’s art and monuments. Although its message of the importance of art and culture to humanity comes through strong, it doesn’t bring anything else to the Nazis-are-evil movie genre.

George Clooney not only stars in this historical comedy but is also the director, the fifth feather in his directing cap. But it seems the silver fox took too much inspiration from his Ocean’s Eleven/Twelve/Thirteen stint as the recruitment of the Monuments Men in the first part of the movie feels almost exactly the same to when Ocean recruited his band of criminals for a heist. But in this case they are stealing art back from Hitler.

The story is based on the The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History, written by Robert M. Edsel, an expert on the saving of art during WWII. Although the events in the movie are real, the characters are only loosely based on real people and although I am no expert of WWII and Hitler’s art obsession, I could easily tell that in true Hollywood fashion a lot of the incidents were dressed up for the screen. Sticking to the history more might have saved the movie from its lack of continuity.

All in all, The Monuments Men’s plot feels like a series of various events stitched together with no real flow between each other as random scenes have no real bearing on the story. It’s like a pseudo-documentary that details things that happened without any character development and blatant embellishments of what really happened during the war.

What makes it even more sad is that it had a well-rounded cast that could have made the movie into something spectacular with a better script. The movie producers probably thought they were enough to carry the movie through, as they did have some funny dialogue and interactions with each other. However, it felt like that witty banter were written specifically for them and not for the movie as a whole. John Goodman, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett and Bob Balaban were brilliant in their respective roles, but Clooney just could not bring them all together.

This movie was made for the fans of the various actors so if you are one you would enjoy seeing your favourite actor/actress in their respective roles, and art enthusiasts will enjoy the scenery, but any WWII fundis will probably cringe at the historical inaccuracies. A movie should be made about the Monuments Men, but this one is not it.

The Monuments Men is a watered-down mix of Inglourious Basterds and Ocean’s Eleven, with a great cast but no real narrative to back it up.

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