Wednesday, February 26, 2014

REVIEW: The Monuments Men

The Monuments Men

George Clooney, Matt Damon


February 7, 2014

George Clooney

Columbia Pictures,
20th Century Fox

1 hour 58 minutes



Leave it to George Clooney to bring audiences back to the darkest time in modern history.  While we've seen stories about concentration camps, Jewish people in hiding, and countries unifying to battle the common enemy, Clooney and screenwriter Grant Heslov bring a different side of World War II into the mix.  "The Monuments Men" tells the story of eight men who travel to Europe in order to save priceless pieces of art that the Nazis are taking and holding hostage.  Looking at the film on the outside, it sounds incredible.  Not only does Clooney direct and co-write the screenplay, but he also stars in it, alongside A-list stars like Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, and Bill Murray.  Normally, this would be a sure-fire hit, but many seem to be on the contrary for this film.  I, apparently, am in the minority by saving that I really enjoyed this movie.  It's not the amazing, Oscar-quality film that many were hoping for it to be, but it is enjoyable still, and I am really glad that I saw it.

The biggest flaw that the film possesses is that it doesn't balance its stories out quite well.  It seemed like the filmmakers were trying too hard on focusing on either the story between Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett's characters, or they were focusing on obtaining this one particular piece of art for reasons that are somewhat, but not entirely, explained.  Clooney isn't as prominent in the film as one may think, being absent from the film for nearly 20 minutes at one section of the film.  What I wish that Clooney could have done was either A.) fully flesh out the stories that he presents on the film, or B.) focus on one set of characters and have the rest of the cast show up towards the end of the movie.  Despite this flaw, the film still strives thanks to its sense of humor and its incredible cast.

George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Cate Blanchett were all really good in the film, enough said.  John Goodman and Jean Dujardin from "The Artist" have great moments together.  Even Hugh Bonneville has some decent spots present.  But without a doubt, my favorite scenes in the film involved Bill Murray and Bob Balaban.  Not only do they bring the most humor and the most "Hell yeah!" moments, but they also have some great chemistry, and even have a really touching scene together that was well-executed and well edited.  If the film had just been about these two guys, I probably would have loved the film as a whole.  While Clooney and Damon give solid performances, it's Murray and Balaban that steal the show, without a doubt.

George Clooney stated in an interview that this film was not an "Oscar film," and boy was he right on the money with that.  That's not a bad thing, particularly; it's just that this isn't the type of movie that is made to win awards.  This film was made solely to tell a true story that not many knew about, and it tells that story very well.  The action sequences, as brief as they are, are well-executed and fun.  As a whole, it drags a tad, but the overall product is a satisfying film that history buffs will definitely go gaga over.  It's not the best World War II movie ever made, but it is a solid and entertaining movie that I would willingly revisit if the opportunity presented itself.



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