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'The Monuments Men' is a lackluster account of history

'The Monuments Men' starring George Clooney and Matt Damon


‘The Monuments Men’ based on the book of the same name by Robert M. Edsel is an action drama focusing on seven over-the-hill, out-of-shape museum directors, artists, architects, curators, and art historians who went to the front lines of WWII to rescue the world’s artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and return them to their rightful owners. They risk their lives to protect and defend mankind’s greatest achievements.

Stokes (GEORGE CLOONEY, right) presents his case for Monuments protection to President Roosevelt (MIKE DALTON).
Stokes (GEORGE CLOONEY, right) presents his case for Monuments protection to President Roosevelt (MIKE DALTON).
© 2013 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. (Photo Credit: Claudette Barius)
The greatest art heist in history.
©Copywright 2014, Columbia Pictures and Fox 2000 Pictures and Smokehouse Productions.

In theory, ‘Monuments Men’ should work as a motion picture since it is based on a true story. However, factual stories often present a problem when it comes to the retelling of such events. It is hard to convey details of historical actions to an audience while also making the particulars entertaining.

It is written and directed by George Clooney and its cast is comprised with the most talented stars ever assembled on the big screen. The film features George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville, and Cate Blanchett. The screenplay is by George Clooney and Grant Heslov.

Ironically, life intimates art when a story that reinforces the movie surfaced in the news. Recently, looted art was discovered in a Munich apartment – 1,500 works worth $1.5 billion, paintings by Matisse, Picasso, Dix, and other artists that had been thought to be lost.

From a historical point, the ‘The Monuments Men’ is very informative. Yet, the film is lackluster. At times the story is slow moving and the characters are not well crafted. It is as if the stars were so intent on being the everyday man/woman, that they erased any semblance of a personality from their characters. By relying heavily on dialogue, audiences are not privy to actually viewing the back-stories that make up the men. As a result, the audience might find it hard to invest in the outcome of the members of the team.

The motion picture attempts the look and feel of earlier film making by including a soundtrack filled with tunes reminiscent of the war era. As the characters go on their quest for the art, stolen by Nazi’s, you can hear the score by Alexandre Desplat accompanying the scenes with fifes and strings and it recalls films like ‘The Great Escape,’ The ‘Dirty Dozen,’ and the ‘Bridge over the River Kwai.’ But the absence of a compelling story falls flat against the score.

The story of ‘Monuments Men’ had all the elements to be a brilliant masterpiece. But sadly, it is ldreary attempt to shine a light on a worthy account in history.

This film in theaters February 7, 2014, has been rated PG-13 by the MPAA for: some images of war violence and historical smoking.