The Monuments Men

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Director: George Clooney.
Screenplay: George Clooney, Grant Heslov.
Starring: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Cate Blanchett, Hugh Bonneville, Bob Balaban, Demitri Leonidas, Alexandre Desplat.

“You can wipe out an entire generation, you can burn their homes to the ground and somehow they’ll still find their way back. But if you destroy their history, you destroy their achievements and it’s as if they never existed. That’s what Hitler wants and that’s exactly what we are fighting for”

When George Clooney made his directorial debut in 2002 with the off-beat Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and followed it up with the superb McCarthyism drama Good Night and Good Luck it seemed that he had just as much talent behind the camera as he did in front of it. However, the dull Leatherheads and largely disappointing The Ides of March came next which threw some doubt over his ability to call the shots. The Monuments Men, unfortunately, has more in common with his latter efforts.

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During World War II, Frank Stokes (George Clooney) learns of Hitler’s intention to steal the world’s greatest works of art for his own personal museum. Under the permission of President Roosevelt, Stokes assembles an unlikely platoon of art experts to enter into war-torn Europe and rescue thousands of years of cultural heritage before the Nazis and the Soviets get their hands on them.

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Credit to Clooney for trying to evoke old-fashioned Hollywood movies as, for the most part, he succeeds. There’s a pleasant feel to the proceedings that brings reminders of John Sturges’ The Great Escape or Robert Aldrich’s The Dirty Dozen. Like those films, it has an abundance of quality actors onscreen and despite their roles seriously lacking in characterisation they bring a certain playfulness and much needed charisma. In fact, if the stars weren’t as easily watchable as they are then the film itself would completely fall flat. Despite it’s easy going nature, though, there are glaring shifts in tone. Just as your relaxing into the whole caper vibe, it throws in some serious dramatic moments and events that are jarring. I suppose I may be being overly critical when the film is all about a race against fascism but it just struck me that Clooney couldn’t fully realise his intentions here.

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An admirable attempt to replicate an old-fashioned movie but it only really works on the surface. Once you dig a little deeper, it’s all very two dimensional and superficial. That being said, if all you’re looking for is some unabashed entertainment without having to think too much then this should go down without much fuss.

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Mark Walker

Trivia: Daniel Craig was originally cast but ultimately had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts. Matt Damon replaced him.

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27 Responses to “The Monuments Men”

  1. I started watching this once and couldn’t really get into it despite the cast… sounds about right…

    Boat Drinks!

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  2. Blasphemy!!! Everyone loves The Monuments Men! I mean EVERYONE!!! Oh wait, maybe just me.

    As you know I loved the movie. I’m glad you noticed the nostalgic intent of the movie. So many people completely missed that. I get what you are saying about the tone. It worked for me but I can see where it may not for others.

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  3. I’ve been meaning to check this out … there’s always that chance of unearthing a misunderstood gem when you watch stuff that’s generally disliked by the majority of people but enjoyed by one or two. I saw Keith’s review last year and that convinced me to at least give The Monuments Men a go, and I will. Same goes for The Counsellor, which I remember you saying you liked. I like throwback caper-style films, although I’m not expecting Ocean’s Eleven despite that cast!

    Liked by 1 person

    • See, I wasnt keen on the Ocean movies either, Stu. If you liked them then you just might take something from this but, for me, it was a bit all over the place. There were some genuinely good moments, though. In fact, Clooney should have changed the title to that… “The Moments Men”. πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This was a real disappointment because it had the potential to be great and just ended up being really flat and uninspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m in agreement here, Abbi. Clooney has been faultering behind the camera of late. He’s assembling great casts and potentially great ideas and then throws them all away. The Ides of March is another example.

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  5. I’m watching this right now, give me a couple hours πŸ˜‰

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  6. It was pleasant enough that I didn’t hate myself while seeing it. Good review Mark.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Maybe I’ll check this out when I’ve got nothing else going on. Despite the cast I just don’t have any interest in it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re not missing much, Dave. There’s plenty of other stuff to have a go at than this. It’s kinda Saturday matinee material. Something you might watch with your Granny! πŸ˜‰

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  8. Good to see more stuff from you mate. Shame it’s this I guess!

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    • Yeah, some so “bit-sized”, “quickie” or “Rapid” Reviews mate. I suppose this is my take on just saying what i thought and moving on. It wasn’t really worth much more time than I already gave it.

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  9. We’re on the same page with this one Mark. I found it very bland with a jumbled tone that just feels ‘off’.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. jackdeth72 Says:

    Cheers, Mark:

    Not a great film. Not a terrible film. More of a wasted film. With an exceptional cast amongst surrounding that have to right period look and feel. And no real place to go.

    More time devoted to writing, filming and editing would have worked wonders!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. On my catch-up list, for sure. I’m looking to see where I stand on this. On Keith’s side, or everyone else’s. πŸ˜‰

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    • Hopefully you take it from Keith’s and have a ball with it, Michael. I was hoping for that but it didn’t work overall. Keith is the only one I know who rates this so so highly, LOL, but I admire him for it. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Yeah the Monuments Men was a bit of a letdown considering the preconceived notions I had going in.

    Oh, wait — that was precisely what f**ked over everybody!!! Hahah. I think expectations were unfairly raised by Clooney’s directorial capacity, and the cast and the story. I think if I watched this again I might have a more positive take on it, but from what I remember this was quite a slog to get through.

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