The Monuments Men

The Monuments Men

Directed by George Clooney

Rating: D-

The story about the preservation of precious art during the Second World War is fascinating as a page in history, but as an all-star Hollywood war epic, it’s simply appalling. Ironically, it is very preachy about the innate value of cultural products (such as films. Yes, George Clooney, we got it).

I had extremely high expectations for this filmic experience. All-American leading men George Clooney and Matt Damon, enigmatic Cate Blanchett, old-timers Bill Murray and John Goodman, and a “caper” plot about thumbing noses at the Nazis? Surely my prayers have been answered and this is an intelligent third Ocean’s Eleven sequel – at least in spirit?! Unfortunately Clooney doesn’t know what genre his film is. For five minutes it is a whimsical caper, then moves to characters on/off crying as a token acknowledgement of the Holocaust, then dying in the manner of an unnamed “Redshirt.” And, get this, the plot sees the only woman thrown head-over-heels in love with, apparently, the first and only man who ever talks to her. To call the dialogue well written would be comparable to calling Kentucky Fried Chicken fine cuisine.

The pacing of the movie is badly skewed. We meet all our main characters in the first two minutes and hear nothing of their stories. With huge, capable names in the cast like this, it’s a crime to deprive them of roles with gravitas. Then, following the “80/20 rule,” the vast majority of the story is fast-forwarded over the next half-hour, and by the time we get to see something in-depth near the end, our ability to care has been lost. Oh, boo-hoo, Bill Murray, you got a letter from home. You’ve had forty seconds of screen time – please tell me more about how long and difficult it’s been for you on the Front.

This film has all the ingredients of a charming, resonating epic about Western civilisation, but dismally fails to put them together according to a recipe.
This article first appeared in Issue 6, 2014.
Posted 7:01pm Sunday 30th March 2014 by Andrew Kwiatkowski.