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The Monuments Men (2014)

Her Review:

During WWII, Hitler gathered all the most precious pieces of artwork throughout Europe and hid them.  His ultimate goal was to build the Führermuseum.  A group of unlikely heroes are tasked by FDR to rescue the missing masterpieces from the Nazi thieves are return them to their rightful owners.  Their merry little platoon is known as The Monuments Men.  The seven man team made up of museum directors, curators, historians and architects have little support and even less hope of success.  Despite the odds being stacked against them and a race against the clock the Monuments Men make progress on their treasure hunt, but yet they aren’t spared the pain of war.  And it begs the question is one piece of art worth the life of a man?  Starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville, Bob Balaban, Dimitri Leonidas, Justus von Dohnanyi, Holger Handtke, Michael Hofland, Zachary Baharov, Michael Brandner.

The Monuments Men while on the surface seems a serious historical war film will surprise and delight you with its playfulness and quick-moving story.  All in all I found The Monuments Men to be a delightful little film.  Based on true events and a book by Robert M. Edsel that recounts the heroic efforts of seven brave men, The Monuments Men is written and directed by George Clooney.  I can’t speak to the faithfulness of the movie to the book or of the book itself.  I did find the story to be overly stuffed, but then with many historical films there is often too much information and too little time.  It doesn’t make the movie a bad one but at the same time it prevents any true character development or for me as an audience member from developing a connection with the characters.

Now while I did enjoy the jovial feel of the movie it did seem to suffer a minor identity crisis at times.  Couched as a recapping or somber commentary on this particular time in history there are more light-hearted moments than there are somber ones.  Also, the transition between the two tones of the film isn’t smooth – thus the feeling that the film isn’t quite sure what it wants to be…when it grows up.

Putting aside the two imperfections I’ve already mentioned, Clooney has still managed to put together a smashing cast and moving that is extremely enjoyable.  Clooney, Damon, Murray, Goodman, Dujardin, Bonneville and Balaban play well together.  There is an ease between them and in their acting that can only come from experience and …ahem…age.  Sorry guys!  Cate Blanchett is a nice addition for what would otherwise me a male dominated film.  The camaraderie of the cast and their characters is infectious and a joy to watch.

While The Monuments Men wasn’t what I expected it to be I did enjoy it.  So I think the key here is to not expect a fully serious commentary on war or Hitler or his actions.  Instead expect a light-hearted story about a group of unexpected heroes and I don’t think you will be disappointed.

7/10 Stars – Has its flaws but is none the less a joy to watch and an interesting history lesson to boot!


His Review:

I always like a good historical movie, especially with this kind of a cast.  Unfortunately they only make this story tolerable as it seems to just coast from beginning to end.  Sure there are scenes along the way that provide some war thrills and emotions, but for these A-list actors, this was light.  The idea of these guys going and looking for stolen art during wartime in order to keep them from being destroyed is a noble idea, and these men should be recognized and praised for what they did for humanity.  The part that I don’t get is that some of these men died for this cause.  I understand some people would die for this cause, but if they die, than how can they enjoy it or any art that would be made after?  I obviously don’t know the real story of the Monuments Men, but it seems that the events of the movie are too simple and easy for a movie about World War II.  The 2nd half of the movie does pick up and is more engaging as the guys begin to find the art, but the first half drags on to the point that you might be sleeping by the time the 2nd half rolls around.  I did like the charm and comedy of the group, but I felt that it was necessary when most of the time, this kind of relief is bonus.  All in all, Monuments Men is a rental at best and shouldn’t be one that you go into with high hopes.  There really isn’t much that shines here, even if they actors very well could have.

6/10 Stars – Nothing memorable in a movie about WWII that starred a hand full of A-list actors… ummmm?


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