Review: THE MONUMENTS MEN (2014) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Review: THE MONUMENTS MEN (2014)

Despite all-star ensemble and interesting premise, THE MONUMENTS MEN is surprisingly dull and ordinary.

Once positioned as a potential Oscar bait when George Clooney's THE MONUMENTS MEN was originally scheduled for December 2013 release, the movie was curiously moved to February 2014 instead due to the fact that Clooney needs more time for post production work on special effects. Now that I finally get to watch this highly-anticipated release, I'm surprised that THE MONUMENTS MEN ends up in my list as one of the biggest disappointments in 2014.


During World War II, the German army has stolen some of the world's greatest works of art and intended to place them at Adolf Hitler's planned Fuhrer Museum. However, in the event of Hitler's death and the subsequent downfall of the Third Reich, the German army receives orders that they are to destroy every work of art. To prevent such incident from happening, art historian Lt. Frank Stokes (George Clooney) forms a team of art experts -- including medieval art curator James Granger (Matt Damon), architect Richard Campbell (Bill Murray), sculptor Walter Garfield (John Goodman), French designer Jean-Claude Clermont (Jean Dujardin) and theater director Preston Savitz (Bob Balaban) -- to lead them into Germany to locate and recover the stolen art collections to their respective owners.

THE MONUMENTS MEN is blessed with top-notch production values, while Phedon Papamichael's golden-hued cinematography gives the movie a suitably nostalgic look of the World War II era in Germany. And speaking of nostalgia factor, Alexandre Desplat's exquisite music score is reasonably effective as well.

Of all the ensemble cast here, only Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett shine in their performances especially when they share the screen together.
It's a shame for a star-studded historical movie like THE MONUMENTS MEN, I couldn't find one memorable moment worth praising for.
George Clooney's direction is surprisingly flat, while his adapted screenplay that he co-wrote with Grant Heslov (taken from Robert M. Edsel's and Bret Witter's The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History) is flimsy and episodic. No wonder the movie feels slack and slow-moving for its nearly two-hour running time. Even the movie's attempted mix of adventure, drama and comedy is disappointingly mediocre.

Apart from the aforementioned good performances from Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett, the rest of the ensemble cast are shockingly bland. As the platoon leader Lt. Frank Stokes, George Clooney doesn't bring anything interesting that makes his character worth investing for. Same goes to veterans like Bill Murray, John Goodman and Bob Balaban, who are mostly neglected to thankless roles. Even Oscar-winning actor Jean Dujardin (2011's THE ARTIST) is sadly wasted as well.

Given the calibre of all the talents involved here, THE MONUMENTS MEN could have been one of the best movies of the year. Too bad what we have here instead is a missed opportunity to accomplish as one.


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