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‘The Monuments Men’ is Not Fine Art
February 12, 2014Posted by on
I like George Clooney as an actor. As a director, his output is very hit or miss. You can’t deny that there is a passion behind the subject material his films are about, but the end product is usually something ultimately lackluster. The Monuments Men is a perfect example of that. It is an ambitious project, but is largely mediocre.
Which is a shame, because part of what attracted me to see the film was the really stellar cast. Beyond Clooney, the film features Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Cate Blanchett, and Bob Balaban – all fan favorites of mine. Where the film really goes wrong is that the cast is just too big for the movie to truly service. I realize that sounds a bit odd especially since there are quality films out there such as Ocean’s Eleven (also starring Clooney and Damon) with a huge central cast. However, the issue with The Monuments Men is that many of these characters all go on a variety of side missions, apart from one another. The film doesn’t give these people enough time to really develop for the audience to really care what is going on with them. This becomes a problem, because when one of them ultimately bites it, you are left with a feeling of “so what?”.
Speaking of the story, The Monuments Men follows the “true story” of a group of art specialists-turned-Allied soldiers during the final days of World War II. Their goal is to track down all art the Nazis stole and return it to their rightful owners. The team eventually breaks off to smaller units in order to track down various leads culminating, hopefully, into big finds.
Because there were several stories going on at once during the movie, I found it difficult to really follow what was actually going on. Stuff just seems to happen for little reason and other plot elements such as Blanchett’s art curator character (at least I think that’s what she was – the film doesn’t go into much detail) purposely delaying giving vital information until it becomes necessary for the plot. Truthfully, I don’t know what Clooney was trying to do or say with this movie. There is no original moral or message other than “we need to save art”, which is incredible on how unsubtle the movie actually presents it.
As mentioned above, The Monuments Men is ambitious, but it also horribly lacks any focus. I’m no filmmaker, but it seems like there could have been a lot of decisions made where the film could have been a bit streamlined into a stronger narrative. Or, on the other hand, perhaps this project would have been better suited for the mini-series treatment. Whatever the case, as is, The Monuments Men is a largely forgettable film and missed opportunity.