"The Monuments Men"
Sony Masterworks/Sony Classical
25 Tracks/Disc Time: 61:28
Grade: A (Best of 2014)
After reviewing the rather abysmal "RoboCop", I'm glad to say that this next score that I'm about to review is a breath of fresh air. Well, anything's better than "RoboCop" at this point...so that leads us to "The Monuments Men" a marvellous, entertaining film starring and directed by Oscar winner George Clooney in the fascinating true story that takes place during World War II. Clooney stars as Frank Stokes, who's tapped by President Roosevelt to lead a crew of seven museum directors, curators, and art historians behind enemy lines to rescue artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves who are under orders to destroy everything as the Reich fell and returning them to their rightful owners. Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Bob Balaban, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville and Cate Blanchett co-star in this fun, film that will remind most of "Kelly's Heroes" Starring the great Clint Eastwood and is a great throwback to films that were lovingly made involving real characters and not CGI. The film has done very well at the box office despite runaway business from "The Lego Movie".
One important element of late from George Clooney's film has been the use of music. From his directorial debut on "Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind" and his follow up, "Good Night And Good Luck", Clooney has really grown to appreciate a composer writing the music for his films whether its' in front, behind the camera as a director or behind the scenes as a producer, he had the very solid work of composer and current Oscar nominee Alexandre Desplat, who has scored films featuring Clooney starting with "Syriana", "The Ides Of March" and the Oscar Winning Best Picture, "Argo". Desplat's talents with recent films such as the Oscar nominated "Philomena", "Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close" and now, "The Monuments Men" has really brought him well deserved acclaim and a new legion of fans and this score will absolutely not disappoint.
The score is easily one of my favorites so far this year and I'd expect it to be on my Best of 2014 list at years' end. The score is so infectious and enjoyable, it is a brilliant homage to those scores written by the likes of Lalo Schifrin, Elmer Bernstein, Alfred Newman, Jerry Goldsmith, and John Williams featuring a grand rousing theme ("Opening Titles") that I've played over and over again is that good. It's playful, jaunty nature is just so cheerfully entertaining that really elevates the rest of the score in a great way. Desplat plays off the cheerful march with fun material with tracks such as "Basic Training", "Champagne", "Gold!", "End Title" and "The Roosevelt Mission", which channels a little bit of "Saving Private Ryan" in parts which is definitely not a bad thing. These tracks are stand outs and very enjoyable as Desplat's theme is played in various guises performed with gusto and fun. Desplat also underscores the important aspects of the mission rather subtly and full of sweep with tracks such as "Ghent Alterpiece", "Siegen Mine", "Heilbron Mine", and "Castle Art Hoard" utilizing a more suspense approach that isn't overbearing while "Sniper" and "Finale" are the score's more rousing and exciting action pieces. "Finale" is a lengthy and marvellously orchestrated piece that Desplat just pulls out every great action melody in his ovure and just simply a beautiful, inspired piece of writing. Desplat also manages to fit a lush and romantic theme featured in "Clare & Granger" that is simply charming and has a Austrian waltz like feel to it that is just sparkling.
Sony Masterworks' album is a solid one from start to finish and it's rare that a score album (nowadays) can hold your attention for this length of time and really accomplish alot. The music is just so good, so enjoyable and a score that fans of the Golden Age era will get a kick off not just the modern crowd. This is a score that is masterfully done, plain and simple. Alexandre Desplat has proven time and time again that he's a composer that really shows his versitility in any genre and has found the perfect collaboration with a great director/actor such as George Clooney. "The Monuments Men" is easily one of the best scores of the year so far and one that will get repeat listens again and again. Bravo Monseur Desplat! Very enthusastic Thumbs Way Way Up!