Reel Freak

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Reel Review – The Monuments Men (2014)

monuments

The Monuments Men is a slow but meaningful historical film.  Directed by and starring George Clooney, this film takes us on a World War II-era treasure hunt, showing off an impressive ensemble which also includes the talents of Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Bob Balaban and Cate Blanchett.  Its lagging pace rarely changes throughout its two-hour runtime, but the objective of the story is enough to keep you interested.

The Monuments Men is based on a true story, and follows an unlikely World War II platoon, formed by Frank Stokes (Clooney) and tasked by FDR to travel to Germany in the middle of the war, to rescue artwork that had been stolen by the Nazis and planned to be destroyed, and to return the pieces to their rightful owners.  Stokes recruits a group of artists and historians, including James Granger (Damon), Richard Campbell (Murray), Walter Garfield (Goodman), Preston Savitz (Balaban), Jean-Claude Clermont (Jean Dujardin), and Donald Jeffries (Hugh Bonneville).  While traveling through Germany in an attempt to recover as many art pieces as possible, Granger also receives help from Claire Simone (Blanchett), who has the same goal in mind, and helps provide information to where the art may be located.  In a race against time, the team must track down these timeless masterpieces before they are erased from history.

George Clooney;Matt Damon;John Goodman;Bob Balaban

Again, this movie has a very slow pacing from beginning to end.  It rarely changes, which is unfortunate, but the sum of the film’s elements keep you interested and focused.  The story being told is informative, and its goal is to tell the story of a group of heroes in their own right, who want to preserve historic artifacts.

George Clooney does a fine job with the film’s direction, though his performance as the lead man feels as if he simply memorized the script and presented it word-for-word.  Matt Damon plays one of the more likable characters, and he helps bring out the best in Clooney’s performance.  We already know that the two actors really enjoy working together from previous films, so it is no surprise that they played a couple of buddies this time around.  The chemistry between the pair is just fun to see.

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However, the best of this cast comes from its supporting characters.  The story pairs Bill Murray and Bob Balaban together, as well as John Goodman and Jean Dujardin, in teams, working together throughout their travels.  The banter between Murray and Balaban is perhaps the most enjoyable and clever quality within the ensemble, while Goodman and Dujardin work together just as well.

As a historic film, the costume, props and settings were all set up very well.  This gave a definite feeling of being set in a previous era, and the movie was shot beautifully.  If you’re looking for suspense or thrills, The Monuments Men isn’t where you’ll find either.  It works in an overall-steady way, and accomplishes what it sets out to; telling a great story, backed with a sense of pride and determination with its characters.

In the end, The Monuments Men is best described as hit-or-miss.  Some may find it too slow, though the right audiences will appreciate its existence.  Casting and plot go hand-in-hand in this one, and I would leave on a note of calling The Monuments Men a good movie for a rainy day.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Written by Josh Sazin on 2/16/14

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