Saturday, 14 June 2014

The Monuments Men

Out now on the Blu-rays and the "deeveedees" is a new old timey war film about people who were real but not actually in the war, and did good things but were actually all a wee bit boring. Welcome onto the stage that is your life ‘The Monuments Men’, starring the kind of people who usually make good films like Bill Murray, George Clooney, Matt Damon and other people that you won’t be able to figure out where you know them from but know are very famous.

The film is about the end of World War II, a time when the Nazis were starting to lose a bit and, in a fit of bad sportsmanship and typical Nazi dickheadery, started stealing and burning all the art in the world, believing the theory that if you erase someones history you erase their identity. Like clearing your web browser, except well before of the existence of the internet, erasing any record of what you've been up to. The problem with The Monuments Men is there is so much story to tell, so they never get to the point of telling any of it. If I didn’t already agree that preserving art and history is important, I would not have been convinced by the film, finding myself siding more often with the Allies generals who were standing around, confused about why these ‘soldiers’ were bothering them about art.

Aside from the main story, Matt Damon has himself a nice little 'side quest'; to go and seduce Cate Blanchett. Typically a superb actress, she's used dreadfully here with a french accent akin to a Pépé le Pew cartoon and I was absolutely blown away by her mediocrity and lack of chemistry with Damon's character.  

The Monuments Men struggles with the common problem of trying to be lighthearted while discussing a heavy subject, without becoming a parody, so it’s message gets across to the audience effectively. From castle, to pit, to grave, to cathedral, to casual murder, to scene about smoking, you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing or feeling and are left confused. The film plays like an episode of The Fast Show, with little explanation or dialogue per scene. The few scenes that are at a healthy length have tension and are engrossing but they are far apart and they only disappoint by reminding you how good the film could’ve been. Were it only more structured.

There's nothing particularly wrong with it, nothing particularly good either.  As with a lot of films in this vain I was left with the generic feeling that the Nazis were bad and the Allies were good and not much else. It was a light hearted way to kill an afternoon and it’s nice seeing Bill Murray no matter what the situation is, even if he was telling me I had colon cancer, I think it would be oddly calming.

The Monuments Men gets a 3/5.


Dave Roberts

The Monuments Men at CeX

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