Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘The Monuments Men’ Review: Starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett

I can’t remember the last time I felt more blasé about a film with an immensely talented cast and director. The Monuments Men is a film about incredible people who did something extraordinary, yet the characters were given little to no backstory and felt disconnected from the cause and each other. With the exception of Cate Blanchett and Bill Murray exuding their natural charms into their characters, there’s not much going on in George Clooney’s newest film.

Based on the book by Robert M. Edsel with Bret Witter, The Monuments Men tells the true story of a World War II platoon that was tasked by FDR to find artistic pieces from Nazi thieves and return them to their rightful owners. The team consisted of seven museum directors, curators and art historians played by George Clooney, Matt Damon, John Goodman, Billy Murray, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville and Bob Balaban.

It’s clear that Clooney has much respect for the real Monuments Men and all that they did to preserve such important history, but these men deserved a spectacular film over this mediocre one that was created. It’s no surprise after seeing the film to understand why the film was pushed to February 2014 from its original Oscar-times release date last year.

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The film’s extraordinary cast exceeds in their roles, but the screenplay (adapted by Clooney) disconnects each character from the other and the film never seems quite fluid. How is it possible, with this much of an A-list cast, that one could feel so bored during the two-hour long film? Though the cast was great, I can’t say I truly cared about their characters, even when sacrifices were made.

Clooney’s Monuments Men feels like it wants to have the excitement and airy comedy of an Ocean’s Eleven flick and the darker undertones of dramatic World War II films like Saving Private Ryan. All in all, these men had some of the best actors in the business playing their roles, but deserved a greater film to tell their story.

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