The Monuments Men: Review

Image from: kentuckytheatre.com

George Clooney recruits an all star cast for The Monuments Men, based on the true story of a platoon sent into Nazi Germany towards the end of World War II to retrieve and rescue great artworks and masterpieces before they are destroyed.

Despite all of it’s potential, The Monuments Men is my first big disappointment of the year. At face value it’s a film which should work really well with an excellent premise that tells a different and little known story about WWII supported by one of the most bizarre yet brilliant ensemble casts I’ve seen in some time. So why doesn’t it work?

Well fairly soon into this it becomes quite clear that Clooney who directs and also shares a writing credit with Grant Heslov doesn’t really know where this sits in terms of genre, tone or more importantly what it’s trying to say. At times it feels confused as to whether it’s trying to be a comedy or a serious drama which in this case don’t sit together well at all and makes the film ultimately feel off balance.

The actual comedic moments aren’t even that funny and I laughed very little considering it has Bill Murray and John Goodman as part of the cast, while the moments of drama feel devoid of any tension or emotional resonance which shouldn’t be the case at all for a film which deals with subject matter like this.

There’s no better example of this than the films score, easily one of the most irritating scores I’ve heard in a long time, which like the film is all over the place flitting between jovial to sad to romantic and back to jovial throughout. There’s no subtlety about it at all and it’s a blatant use of music to tell people how to feel all the time when in actuality there’s very few moments where I cared about what was going on.

Don’t get me wrong, the film does have one or two of those moments in it’s hints toward the holocaust and it’s scenes where people are injured or killed, it’s just they are spread out too thinly and sandwiched between lighter moments which mean they have less of an impact than they should have.

The cast itself are all fine but underused to a degree with a lack of any real character development or any individual moments to shine which again considering the amount of talent attached, should not be the case. 

With this in mind, as much as I really wanted to love The Monuments Men, I can’t help but feel slightly let down by it. The story is an interesting one and there’s a good film to be made about it somewhere but this isn’t it. It’s poorly conceived, very confused and lacks any visual flare. The film itself asks the question, is art worth dying for? One thing’s for sure, The Monuments Men certainly isn’t.

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