Sunday, March 16, 2014

[Mini Review] The Monuments Men (2014)

DIRECTED BY: George Clooney
WRITTEN BY: George Clooney, Grant Heslov
STARRING: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville, Bob Balaban

An allied group of men are tasked to rescue pieces of famous art and other culturally significant items that have been stolen by the Nazi thieves for Hilter's grand F├╝hrermuseum which fortunately never came to be.

The two problems I have with this film and from what I've read, so do quite a few others. One, is that it's promoted as a heist film when it's not. These men are taking back art and returning it to its rightful owners; art that was stolen by the Nazis. Second, it's a film that can't seem to decide if it’s a comedy or a war-drama. One minute it's like an episode of 'Day's Army' and a few minutes later it's all very serious and dramatic. I did enjoy both those elements but the mix up was just too often. One thing I did love is that it feels like an old fashion war film, the type from the 50s and 60s which often had a very light-hearted quality too them and also a degree of silliness, particularly regarding the characters.

The plot takes us from 1943 all the way to the German surrender in 1945, two years of war compressed into two hours which I found amusing as it gave the impression that Allies simply marched into Germany with little resistance when that obviously wasn't the case. But its not so much about the war, it's the story of all this stolen art. It's absolutely staggering to see the extent of what the Nazis almost achieved, who amongst other things were disgustingly greedy beyond measure. It's a story that obviously meant a great deal to the film's director and star George Clooney, who really emphasise the importance of saving all this beautiful art work. His character in the film makes a great point of this by simply saying that you can destroy people's homes but if you take away their achievements and destroy their culture it's as though they never existed.

Performances are good all round from an impressive cast of Hollywood's finest. Bill Murray and Bob Balaban were the two I really enjoyed watching as they have a very distinct style of humour. Balaban's dry wit is just priceless.

I think it's pretty obvious that some liberties were taken to get this quite remarkable true story up on the screen but simply as a movie I thoroughly enjoyed it despite the two problems I noted above. If you enjoy war films, particularly old ones and also history I think you'll find this entertaining.

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