Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Monuments Men

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Are we not men?  No, we're monuments men.  Oh, my mistake.




The Monuments Men – 2 out of 5

Art is pretty important to human culture. No matter the medium, it has an emotional impact on the creator and the viewer. It’s capable of making us feel utter joy, incredibly heartbreak, furious anger, and complete confusion. It’s beautiful, ugly, impressive, and sometimes vulgar and offensive. Also, if you put an "F" in front of it, it spells "fart." 
 
There will be more fart jokes on the way, so let's class this shit up with George
Clooney.
 

"No, they're taking away the farts--I mean, art!"
A casualty of war that is rarely ever spoken of is the loss of culture that comes with it. Ancient architecture is destroyed, paintings get ripped to shred from bullets and turned to ash by fire, and this was never more evident than during the grand daddy of all wars; World War III—oops, sorry, that hasn’t happened yet (I’m not a time traveler). During Dubya Dubya Two, Europe was laid to waste by Hitler and his army and a lot of cultural items were caught in the middle. When they weren’t being destroyed by the actual war, Hitler was having his goons swipe up as much art as they can in order to fill his private museum once the war was over. However, Frank Stokes (George Clooney) convinces the President that art and culture is just as important as the human lives oversea and he is granted the right to create a team to save as many pieces of art and history as they can. Together with this team—composed of a collection of freakin’ incredible actors like Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville and Bob Balaban—they aim to rescue the one thing that was considered nothing more than collateral damage.
 
 
Call it a hunch but I think this guy might be a Nazi.
 

Okay, the fact the film is loosely based on actual events that are pretty freakin’ interesting to begin with and the fact the movie has a great cast with one of those cast members being part of the writing team and the director was the reasons I was sold on watching this film—just not to the point where I had to see it in the theater and was patient enough to give it some time before strolling by my local RedBox and deciding that I would give it a rent. Overall, I really wanted to like this movie and, because of that, this review is going to sound extremely apologetic, but the end result was a movie that felt incomplete.
 
I've heard rumors that there are people who don't like John Goodman.
I don't think that's true and don't think they exist.
 

Make your own French/surrender/frog joke.
The cast is fantastic and filled with people I really enjoy and I felt Clooney did a great job of directing when it concerns the overall look of the film and the composition of shots; however, the failure for the film comes in the writing and the unfolding plot. Characters, although well played (I told you this was going to an apologetic review), feel lacking in any depth whatsoever. They all felt like names and a single dimension added to them. For example, Bill Murray is named Richard Campbell and he’s an architect. That’s really all we get from the characters and it gets even worse when two of the characters' defining characteristics are the fact they are either French or British. The characters never really develop beyond these simplistic interpretations and it made it incredibly difficult to really get behind or investing in their mission.
 
That looks so fake...Murray's hat is clearly computer generated.
 

He's the British guy; why didn't he enlist the help of the
Doctor?  And don't give me none of that "he's not real"
business.
Additionally, the film doesn’t have a very smooth narrative. The Monuments Men seems to jump from scene to scene without any gliding transitions. During the story, the team divides up to cover more ground and save more art while in smaller teams and, after this occurs, the film takes on a sloppy feel as it leaps from one team to the next and shows the ground they are covering. Sometimes this results in something dramatic like the loss of a teammate and, more often than not, it results in a scene that felt like it didn’t need to be there at all. This ended up working in concert with the last element that stopped me from being fully engrossed in the film.
 
Bill Murray has become such an icon that he is worshipped as a God in some
hipster circles.
 

"Yes, look at all the glorious farts--I mean, art!"
The most disappointing part of The Monuments Men had to have been the fact there is just really no tension in the film. Never does their mission feel like it is that important and, other than a little push back they got from their own side during early moments of the film, the story just feels like it is coasting and never really encounters anything that jeopardizes what they are doing. Yes, there are moments that were meant to be threatening but with the haphazard way the split-up scenes are handled it makes all the tension feel pretty light. This light delivery also ends up making the ultimate victory feel less victorious than it should be. With the external threat on the team coming off more like a minor inconvenience that never really feels that close, the moment they get the big win feels very underwhelming.
 
Man...you can have a full court basketball game in that church!
 

I really wanted to like The Monuments Men and there were things about it that I clearly did enjoy. The concept is great and held great potential, and the cast is fantastic. Ultimately, however, the film was light on tension, felt too jarring in its narrative, and lacked an emotional impact to it. There was potential to this story but it just didn’t feel like it was achieved.

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