Friday, February 7, 2014
Movie review: The Monuments Men is more lighthearted than you might expect
Though it's based on a true story, the movie steers further away from the heavy feel of other war flicks.
During WWII, Hitler gathered all the most precious pieces of artwork throughout Europe and hid them. His ultimate goal was to build the Führermuseum. A group of unlikely heroes are tasked by FDR to rescue the missing masterpieces from the Nazi thieves are return them to their rightful owners. Their merry little platoon is known as The Monuments Men. The seven-man team made up of museum directors, curators, historians and architects have little support and even less hope of success. Despite the odds being stacked against them and a race against the clock, the Monuments Men make progress on their treasure hunt, but yet they aren’t spared the pain of war. And it begs the question: Is one piece of art worth the life of a man?
The movie stars George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville, Bob Balaban, Dimitri Leonidas, Justus von Dohnanyi, Holger Handtke, Michael Hofland, Zachary Baharov and Michael Brandner.
The Monuments Men, while on the surface seems a serious historical war film, will surprise and delight you with its playfulness and quick-moving story. All in all, I found The Monuments Men to be a delightful film. Based on true events and a book by Robert M. Edsel that recounts the heroic efforts of seven brave men, The Monuments Men is written and directed by George Clooney. I can’t speak to the faithfulness of the movie to the book or of the book itself. I did find the story to be overly stuffed, but then with many historical films, there is often too much information and too little time. It doesn’t make the movie a bad one, but at the same time it prevents any true character development.
RATING7/10 stars – It has its flaws but is nonetheless a joy to watch and an interesting history lesson.
Now while I did enjoy the jovial feel of the movie, it did seem to suffer a minor identity crisis at times. Couched as a recapping or somber commentary on this particular time in history, there are more light-hearted moments than there are somber ones. Also, the transition between the two tones of the film isn’t smooth – thus the feeling that the film isn’t quite sure what it wants to be when it grows up.
Putting aside the two imperfections I’ve already mentioned, Clooney has still managed to put together a smashing cast and movie that is extremely enjoyable. Clooney, Damon, Murray, Goodman, Dujardin, Bonneville and Balaban play well together. There is an ease between them and in their acting that can only come from experience and … ahem … age. Sorry, guys! Blanchett is a nice addition for what would otherwise be a male dominated film. The camaraderie of the cast and their characters is infectious and a joy to watch.
While The Monuments Men wasn’t what I expected it to be, I did enjoy it. So I think the key here is to not expect a fully serious commentary on war or Hitler or his actions. Instead, expect a light-hearted story about a group of unexpected heroes, and I don’t think you will be disappointed.
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