“The Monuments Men” (Biography/ War Drama / Action: 1 hour, 58 minutes)
Starring: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman and Cate Blanchett
Director: George Clooney
Rated: PG-13 (Violence, profanity and thematic elements)
Movie Review: Historical films can relay a good message without being as solid as the events they chronicle. This case exists with this World War II drama. It follows the attempts of an eight-man platoon led by Lt. Frank Stokes (Clooney) to save valuable pieces of art masterpieces from Nazis and return them to their owners. The unlikely team of artists, architects, art historians face grave dangers, but these dangers do not dissuade them from achieving their task.
This is an adaptation of a true story. It is nice film. It easily gets one’s attention, but it has its detractions. A gratifying overview of fine art and its history is an agreeable presentation. This is one of the film’s greatest accomplishments. It nicely shows how art was also one of the many things Hitler wanted from the countries he conquered. The film also focuses some of the Nazis’ other atrocities.
These likable moments also have an interesting, affable cast. Blanchett is the film’s jewel. Her character delivers the needed drama which the film lacks at other parts. Clooney, Damon, Murray, Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville, Bob Balaban and Dimitri Leonidas are the men tasked with saving art. They are likable, although the group seems an unlikely group to send into a war zone.
The notion that members of this group eagerly and without seeming reservation agree to enter war zones are part of the least compelling moments. They all appear to agree instantly. The film tackles their recruitment in a mere two to three minutes. It all appears too easy. This is just one moment where co-writers Clooney and Grant Heslov fail.
The two wrote the screenplay for the Oscar-nominated hits “Good Night, and Good Luck” (2005) and “The Ides of March” (2011). Their pairing for “The Monuments Men” is not nearly as quality driven.
The first half is comical and seemingly another addition of the “Ocean’s Eleven” (2001) films. This contrasts the latter half that is a serious war drama. The two appear as different films. A certain difficulty to appreciate this part of the film is present because of that. The first half does not do the later moments justice. Despite a tale worthy of the big screen, an adventurous mission regarding art is lessened because of this unevenness.
Grade: C+ (Enjoyable, but no monument to modern cinema.)
“The Lego Movie” (Animation/Action/Comedy: 1 hour, 40 minutes)
Starring: Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson and Morgan Freeman
Directors: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
Rated: PG-13 (Violence, mild language and crude humor)