The Monuments Men movie poster
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The Monuments Men
The Monuments Men movie poster

The Monuments Men Movie Review

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George Clooney directs an all-star cast that includes himself in The Monuments Men, a mildly amusing and ultimately harmless World War II "drama" the unfortunately suffers from inconsistent storytelling, weak character development and severe mood swings.

Clooney plays an art expert who assembles a ragtag team of other art experts (played by Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville and Bob Balaban) to infiltrate Nazi-controlled Europe and hunt down thousands of stolen masterpieces that could face destruction at the hands of a defeated Adolf Hitler. It's a true story, but as told by George Clooney not a particularly good one.

The Monuments Men is tonally imbalanced; it's unclear whether Clooney intended the movie to be a lighthearted drama or somber comedy. As a comedy, the movie has a few laughs, but like everything else, the story, screenplay and even dialogue appear incomplete. It's not very funny and certainly not all that entertaining, though to call it outright boring wouldn't be accurate. As a drama, The Monuments Men is a real head scratcher. Clooney keeps things light most of the time, but then occasionally changes course to kill a main character. The deaths come out of nowhere, and as you watch on screen as certain characters die, you realize that Clooney intended for you to feel something for them. You also realize that you don't care, because character development is almost nonexistent.

Worse, the story bounces all over the place; large chunks of detail seem to have been left on the cutting room floor. The characters split off to do different tasks, but it's never clear what they're doing or why they're doing it. Plot details appear to have been diluted to the most basic level, making it nearly impossible to get into the story. Scenes don't feed into each other like they should, killing any chance at developing suspense or excitement.

Even on a technical level, The Monuments Men is a disappointment. The way the scenes are shot and, more importantly, pieced together feel amateurish, which is rather surprising because with 2011's The Ides of March and 2005's Good Night, and Good Luck, Clooney showed he has talent. And the film's score is just dreadful and adds to the tonal confusion.

Despite all its flaws, The Monuments Men has a few moments that keep it from going completely bust. But all in all, it's a shockingly bland, poorly made movie that wastes both its premise and the talent involved. Some less critical audience members may find more to enjoy, but even they will likely admit The Monuments Men should have been a whole lot better.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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