When you put two of Hollywood’s dreamiest men in one movie, it’s hard to say no. And so I headed off to Reel Cinemas to catch the press preview of The Monuments Men, starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Cate Blanchett along with an ensemble cast.
The Monuments Men is based during World War II, where the conflict between the Axis and Allied powers is taking a toll on cultural artificats. Hitler is looting museums in France and the rest of Europe to create the largest collection of art in his Führermuseum. Frank Stokes (George Clooney) convinces the president of the United States that action needs to be taken on behalf of the military to save these pieces of art and thus the Monuments Men are assembled.
Along with Clooney, the team features a group of artists, sculptures and professors including Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, and Hugh Bonneville. The team of misfits are not cut out to be military men but pursue their goal powered by their passion.
As the Monuments Men make their ways across Europe, we’re taken through key moments of World War II, including the dropping of the A-bombs, the Battle of the Bulge, and the end of the War itself. However unlike other ‘war movies’, The Monuments Men shows a side of the war few mainstream films have explored. In parallel to the fight for humanity, these group of men are fighting against all odds to save the relics of ancient and modern culture, which is equally important for humanity.
The film succeeds thanks to the strong performances of its ensemble cast. Cate Blanchett shines as a tough Belgian secretary who slowly warms up to Matt Damon, while his attempt at speaking French had me in splits. Jean Dujardin sparkles as usual and Clooney himself has the least dramatic lines. On the negative side, the movie does seem stretched out and the dramatic impact is missing in sections. Visually, the film is mediocre and you can’t help but with more attention had been paid to the visual effects and cinematography.
The Monuments Men isn’t an Oscar-classic like 12 Years a Slave but it’s an enjoyable watch that deserves a trip to the cinema. And it’s made me want to pick up the book the movie is based upon – and that’s a hard feat for a film!