Quickie: The Monuments Men

monuments-men-posterWith the Nazis stealing all the paintings and sculptures they can lay their hands on, Frank Stokes (George Clooney) enlists a crack team to help the Allies reclaim the stolen art.

Trying to find new and interesting stories to tell about World War II may seem like a bit of a stretch, but with The Monuments Men, George Clooney has done just that. So just how he’s managed to turn it into such a mediocre film is somewhat of a mystery.

Clooney has assembled quite the cast, including Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman and Jean Dujardin, but many of them feel underutilised and underdeveloped. We’re led to believe they have some kind of history together but this is never explored, and as such we never really care about what happens to them.

The plot also feels somewhat disjointed and lacks cohesion. It flits back and forth between different plot threads, none of which ever really grab your attention and struggles to find a balance between a lighthearted and serious tone. It even descends into some good ol’ fashioned American flag waving by the end.

There is some fun to be had, however, and there are some nice interchanges between some of the characters, with Bill Murray and Bob Balaban probably the standouts. The period detail is also excellent and helps create a really believable setting.

The Monuments Men recalls classic war movies but ultimately fails to have similar dramatic or emotional impact. Great concept, poor execution. Sorry George.

2 and a half pigeons2.5/5 pigeons

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48 thoughts on “Quickie: The Monuments Men

  1. Completely agree with you on this! Such a disappointment, the tone of the film just feels utterly ‘off’ throughout. I’m glad you picked up on that flag waving too 🙂

    • The tone really is off, you’re right. It can’t make up its mind if it wants to be serious or lighthearted. The flag waving really annoyed me by the end. Apparently the real Monuments Men were made up of people from all over Europe but this was a bunch of Americans, an English bloke and a French guy. The only ones who died were the English and French guys! And then there’s the whole thing with the American flag draped over the tunnel at the end. So obvious!

  2. keith7198 says:

    I absolutely love this movie and I think I’m one of the only ones going to bat for it. I really liked these characters and while I wouldn’t mind knowing more about their history and backstory, I didn’t find it necessary. What I really liked was the clear homage to the war ensemble flicks of the 1960s. I thought Clooney captured it wonderfully.

    It’s kind of lonely on this deserted island. 😉

  3. jjames36 says:

    “Great concept. Poor execution.”

    Indeed. The perfect way of summarizing this flick.

  4. I think they rushed the process. Filming only finished in late June 2013 with an original release date of late last year. This apparently was pushed back due to post-production issues, including editing. This seems to be a pattern with films that have a good story but are rushed through what for me is the key period in production which is the editing. The editor is also so important and I would have expected better things from Stephen Mirrione based on Babel and the Hunger Games.

    • Yeah it did seem rushed and I think it was decent of Clooney to push it back in the first place, but it still didn’t seem to help. I think most of the problem was in the script; it didn’t know whether it wanted to be serious or lighthearted. It was all over the place in that respect.

  5. mistylayne says:

    I had heard this wasn’t that good – such a disappointment.

  6. Everybody seems to agree. A tonal mess with poor execution. Bummer.

  7. I was really excited about this film when I heard it was coming out, but now I think I might save myself the disappointment and just watch the Nat Geo documentary instead!

  8. How did he manage to screw up such an interesting story? Such a waste

  9. ruth says:

    We’re in agreement Chris. It’s such a bummer as the story itself is incredible. I’d be interested in seeing a documentary on the real event, it’s likely more fascinating anyway.

  10. sati says:

    Yeah this did seem like another mediocre movie by Clooney, he really should stick to acting :/ I’m gonna see it for Dujardin when it’s on DVD 🙂

  11. davecrewe says:

    Nice review. This still hasn’t been released here, but the tide of mediocre reviews makes me think I might be skipping this one.

  12. Have been umming and aahing about whether to bother with this. I guess it’s one of those to watch if you’re at a loose end. Fun read as usual Chris.

  13. CMrok93 says:

    The cast makes this a bit better, although it is such a disappointment that it, overall, could have been good. Or, at least better. Good review.

  14. Zoë says:

    Wow, really not hearing much good about this, so not particularly keen to check it out, though maybe some day I will see what it was all about. Excellent review as always!

  15. Mark Walker says:

    Hmmm! Yet more criticism for this.?Such a shame as it seemed as if it had a lot of potential. Nice one, Chris. Thanks for the heads-up! 🙂

  16. thycriticman says:

    Another bad review? This must legit be a massive disappointment. I was going to sit down and watch it so many times, but the reviews keep discouraging me. Last Saturday at the theater, I chose “About Last Night” instead. Not really sure that it is worth buying a movie ticket….

    ….maybe the cheap theater.

  17. Tom says:

    Yeah, unfortunately I’ll have to agree with you Chris. A) That’s something I don’t like to do (just kidding). B) I really, really wanted to like this film. . .even love it like Keith does. C) It’s bizarre that this film doesn’t gel at all. I thought I was the only one being harsh in my review. But I find Clooney increasingly overrated these days. . .

    Great write-up!

    • Thanks so much Tom! I really wanted to like it too, it had all the components of a great film, but you’re spot on in that it didn’t gel. And I’m with you on Clooney, he needs to pull something out of the bag pretty soon I reckon, he’s seeming very mediocre lately.

  18. Dan says:

    I was so looking forward to this but ultimately it is a big let down. Maybe I wanted a period Ocean’s 11 and simply didn’t get it, but I wasn’t expecting the sub-par credentials of Ocean’s 12!

  19. Victor De Leon says:

    Man, I was really looking forward to this one. Thanks for the head’s up.

  20. Nostra says:

    Have not seen it yet, but have not heard a lot of positive things about it. Still want to check it out, simply because of that cast.

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