The Monuments Men – 2/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Monuments MenThe Monuments Men – 2/5 – Historical dramas; they are films that have a stark contrast to the whole ‘good or bad’ scenario.  When these films are bad, they will pretty much bore you to no end.  When these films are good, they become all time classic.  The reason that a film of this stature will have this kind of contrast is because of its nature to combine elements of information into a drama.  On rare occasions, you will get films that succeed (Lincoln, Argo, etc.) and others that will fail.  This film falls in the ‘bad’ category; becoming a victim of its own true story.  Overall, The Monuments Men is a film that had a lot of potential, but fails in the end.

Premise: An unlikely group of artist becomes entrenched on a journey during WWII, not only to save stolen art, but to save a way of life, history and the purpose that makes human society what it is.

This film’s main players are the basic draw of an ensemble cast.  In that, you have many people (well renowned actors/actresses) in pivotal roles.  The people in those roles are as followed:

George Clooney as Frank Stokes

Matt Damon as James Granger

Bill Murray as Richard Campbell

Cate Blanchett as Claire Simone

John Goodman as Walter Garfield

Jean Dujardin as Jean Claude Clermont

Huge Bonneville as Donald Jeffries

Bob Balaban as Preston Savitz

These actors are very well renowned names in the business of the movie industry.  In being well renowned for their acting abilities in many films, you expect something good to come from them, but it isn’t on display in this one.  When it comes to the characters they play in this film, they do a pretty pathetic job.  They show a lack of depth in their roles, as each character comes across lethargic and underwhelming to see them on screen.  You really don’t see any strong personalities, causing there to be a lack emotional depth or moving interactions when they have the spotlight on them.  It seems that the reason for the hindrance is the simple script and the whole ‘ensemble’ cast mantra.  With both of these on the table, it handicaps any chance for anyone to stand out; especially Damon of Clooney.  All you get within these main characters are ‘soldiers’ that would be consider side characters in any good war/historical film.  When it comes to the rest of the supporting characters, you get your typical one-dimensional people you find in any other historical drama set during WWII.  They basically just help create a point of ‘convenience’ for plot progression.  They are basically ‘bridges’ from scene to scene, points on a map moving you to the final spot.

The direction of this film is basic, linear and straight up boring.  The film (as a whole) never nudges from the ‘true story’ elements to add any kind of flavor.  For the films first half, the film is a basic build-up of a general outline of any kind of ‘historical drama’, minus all the depth to an actual story or characters.  This causes the film to become way too predictable and uneventful, causing you to pay more attention to the running time then the actual movie.  We get the basic introduction to the main players as well as the whole purpose of bringing this group of misfits together.  All of these guys have some expertise in the school of art.  Frank Stokes brings all these guys together for one mission; to save the art that was stolen by the Nazis.  From the quick setup, the film goes down the path of a common ‘cat and mouse’ game, as these guys go to Europe (with the Allies), and begin to track down all the missing art.  From here, there are many failed attempts to create ‘dramatic monologues’ or ‘witty scenes’.  Every attempt feels bland, adding even more discouragement at wanting to finish watching this film.  What happens is that all of the ‘true story’ elements turn into a long ‘infomercial’ trapped within the concept of a movie.  The flaws are severely glaring; where you see that the direction leaves no time for characterization or emotional depth to the story.  This causes the ‘important’ scenes to fall flat in its attempt to be moving.  After all the ‘cat and mouse’ games, the group finally makes a breakthrough, and starts to find a light at the end of the tunnel.  From this point on, the direction starts to bring cohesion between the films’ characters and the true story elements.  You begin (even if it’s late) to get real poignant moments, seeing real heart in the reason to save this stolen art.  Once the film hits the final act, it is a very lukewarm experience.  Here, you see an attempt to bring a ‘real life’ thematic journey to a closing point, but it fails on the start because of everything that leads up to this point.  The lack of emotions creates a hollow kind of climax, where the films buildup kills any meaning to the end.

The visuals of the film are very akin to a typical ‘WWII’ film.  You have everything from the ‘war like’ environments, battlefields and towns in this recreation of Europe.  This all helps bring a sort of ‘memorable’ sense to the film.  There isn’t anything here that will be jaw-dropping, but it is worth noting that you have a good idea of what this era was.  The score is a distraction for most of the film’s running time, but it ‘generally’ adds some flavor to a boring journey.

Overall, The Monuments Men is a film with a lot of promise because of its intriguing premise, but falls flat.  This failure is across the board, everything from the acting, direction, to the overall storytelling and generic progress of the film.  The one thing that keeps this film from being a total wash is the last few minutes of the film, and the fact it is a true story.  If you’re a fan of the actors or historical dramas, then check this out.  I’d honestly say wait for rental, it’s not worth seeing in theaters.

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