A Film Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
This is dull, just dull, dull, dull. It gives me no pleasure in saying so, but considering the sheer amount of talent involved in this film, it’s an extreme disappointment. There’s George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville, and Cate Blanchett. And I almost fell asleep. Let me just specify that this type of period piece film is something I generally enjoy and certainly more so than most people. I remember watching the trailer and rewatching it about four times over. A World War II movie about the art stolen by the Nazis? Oh yeah. And then you watch the movie and slowly but surely there’s a sort of repugnance that just arises within you as you realize the phenomenal waste of decent material. I just assumed when it was moved from Oscar consideration last year is that the field was too crowded and they were trying to enter it in for the next race, which looked a lot lighter. This isn’t going to be anywhere near the Oscars logically, but then again they did nominate Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, so who knows.
The plot at least theoretically is simple enough. A team is created under the direction of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and they’re mostly men who have absolutely no military experience whatsoever. Which kind of makes sense considering their objective is to recover stolen Nazi art. Eventually the units sort of splits, with Damon going off with Blanchett in the most thematically resonant pair. In fact, a better movie would have been just about these two and run for about an hour and a half. While the plot is straightforward, the characters are not. There is so much just thrown at your face about these people that you are forced to accept because the script said so, but there’s nothing within the film that would suggest that what you were just forced to accept actually makes any sense at all. Another issue within the characterizations is that the movie is so tonally off, because it constantly switches depending on the character in question. And so it just runs about, fluctuating wildly and wondering who the hell signed off on the final product.
There’s no subtlety here and that always hurts a movie that is supposed to be serious. I don’t expect subtle moments from a Marvel or DC Comics movie, for example. But I do expect it from a movie that is supposed to be a serious dramatic expiration on the importance of art within a culture. This movie’s idea of subtlety is George Clooney making grandiose speeches about the importance of art that are so on the nose it makes you feel as if the movie legitimately thinks that its audience is so stupid that it needs to have things spelled out for it. On the other hand, Bill Murray and Bob Balaban hate each other. Why? We don’t know. Not even the dialogue is prescient enough to actually make you feel anything but bemusement. On a point, the movie perhaps realizes that it’s done such a shitty job of drawing up its characters before they die that it tries to make them important right before they do bite it. But by that point, you just don’t give a damn.
“Is it worth risking lives to save this art?” seems to be the central point of the film, but the question is so unevenly answered that it just feels like they threw that in as a mere after thought. It’s over two hours of telling you why art is important without actually showing you anything that would prove that point. And at the end, you just don’t understand why any of it matters and that’s a detriment to the entire film and beyond. Alexandre Desplat’s score is probably the best thing about the movie, but it belongs in an actual war epic, not this movie. Here, it just serves as a complete distraction that proves how much of a patchwork this actual movie is. Nothing basically works on a complete level and it is just dull. Should you watch this? Only if you like spending money to go to sleep. Or you want to learn how not to waste a good premise and an excellent cast. Ah well…
Title: The Monuments Men
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: George Clooney
Produced by: George Clooney, Grant Heslov
Screenplay by: George Clooney, Grant Heslov
Based On: The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel
Starring: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville, Cate Blanchett
Music: Alexandre Desplat
Cinematography: Phedon Papamichael
Editing: Stephen Mirrione
Production Company: Columbia Pictures, Fox 2000 Pictures, Smokehouse Pictures, Studio Babelsberg
Distributor: Columbia Pictures (United States), 20th Century Fox (International)
Running Time: 118 minutes
Release Dates: February 5, 2014 (Jamaica), February 7, 2014 (United States), February 20, 2014 (Germany), February 14, 2014 (United Kingdom)
Image Courtesy: Forbes