195 of 229 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two thumbs up for a very entertaining film
My wife and I are both aging baby boomers born just after World War II ended, so I guess that had a lot to do with our interest in WWII. When we were younger, we even used a vacation to explore the battlefields of Market-Garden and the Ardennes. So we were at the first showing of Monuments Men this morning. I had read mixed reviews about the film, but both of us give it...
Published 7 months ago by J. Chambers
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Total waste of time
I don't spend much time reviewing movies. But, in this case...I have to let people know that this is a mind-numbingly boring movie. They sucker you in with a cast of actors that have actually produced wonderful movies. (other movies). And...not for one moment do you find their characters interesting in the least. They're flat and dull. All of the action in the movie...
Published 3 months ago by C. Andrew Hessler
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195 of 229 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two thumbs up for a very entertaining film,
My wife and I are both aging baby boomers born just after World War II ended, so I guess that had a lot to do with our interest in WWII. When we were younger, we even used a vacation to explore the battlefields of Market-Garden and the Ardennes. So we were at the first showing of Monuments Men this morning. I had read mixed reviews about the film, but both of us give it two thumbs up. I didn't read the book the movie is supposedly based on, but this is Hollywood's version anyway, so I can't comment on the factual content of the film, but it was entertaining from the beginning to the very poignant ending.
So many movies nowadays depend so heavily on CGI and making things go boom that it was enjoyable to see some fine actors plying their trade on the big screen. First, Cate Blanchett alone is worth the price of admission. I fell in love with her in "Elizabeth," and she hasn't lost a bit of her appeal. Playing Claire Simone, a Parisian woman working in an art museum for a German officer, she gave a superb performance. In an early scene, she's been wrongly arrested as a collaborator, and James Granger, one of the Monuments Men played by Matt Damon, is talking to her in a jail cell while she slowly rolls a cigarette, then lights up. It's a remarkably sensual scene that may entice you to take up smoking. Blanchett is the only female character who has more than a couple of lines in the movie. The male actors are an excellent ensemble, with no one really hogging the camera. My favorite: Bob Balaban, playing the character of Preston Savitz, may have been the sleeper in the cast. Looking like the quiet, mild-mannered academic he was, he had some nice scenes, including a standoff with a German soldier who got the drop on him. I'm not a huge George Clooney fan, but I have to say he gave a very good performance as Captain Frank Stokes, the leader of the group.
The moviemakers did a great job of recreating the ruined European cities the Monuments Men passed through in their search for stolen art. The cinematography was excellent. Overall, it was a very enjoyable film about a little known footnote of WWII.
The film piqued my curiosity about the real Monuments Men, so I looked them up on Wikipedia. In a nutshell: The "Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives" program under the Civil Affairs and Military Government Sections of the Allied armies was established in 1943 to help protect cultural property in war areas during and after World War II. The group of about 400 service members and civilians worked with military forces to safeguard historic and cultural monuments from war damage, and as the conflict came to a close, to find and return works of art and other items of cultural importance that had been stolen by the Germans or hidden for safekeeping.
145 of 176 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "ENGAGING, GRACEFUL, AND HISTORIC!",
George Clooney directed this movie, and stars as George Stout, the man who puts a mission together to preserve, and protect the world's greatest art. The Group is named 'The Monument's Men' who are sent on an almost impossible mission as they risk their lives, in a race against time to avoid destruction of the art, and return it to their rightful owners. The art is trapped behind enemy lines, with the German Army under orders to destroy everything as the Reich fell. This movie is based on the true story of the greatest treasure hunt in history, as the artistic Masterpieces are planned to be rescued from Nazi thieves.
The movie portrays a dark spot in history that covers the screen with explosive action, as the tension increases during 'mission impossible.' Some of the team members gave a superb acting performance: Matt Damon; Bill Murray; John Goodman; and Cate Blanchett were fantastic.
The entire cast grabbed your attention with the roles they played, and sound effects were excellent. The compelling story was informative and historic, with an incredible setting that grabs your attention immediately. Overall, this movie is packed with drama, and action until the end. Interesting, entertaining, great acting, and worth an Oscar. I haven't seen a good historic movie in a long time, one I could rave about. This intriguing movie filled the gap, and was totally satisfying. Highly recommended to all those who enjoy history movies, and war stories!
27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very nice old-feel movie,
This review is from: The Monuments Men (Blu-Ray +DVD +Digital HD) (Blu-ray)
I really like Saving Private Ryan - it is gritty, realistic and makes you feel like you were there, and tells a heck of a WW2 story. I also really like this movie - it is not gritty particularly, does have a more humoristic approach at times, and tells a heck of a WW2 story. I honestly don't understand the criticism about this movie. It feels like a lot of people were either expecting the same thing they've seen over and over with grit, gore, and length, or frankly had a skeptical/cynical attitude from the start and immediately I-phoned in snarky reviews about how the movie didn't entertain them enough.
This movie was not a gore fest, so... it's unrealistic then? This movie does not have each character sit down, stare at the camera and tell you some long back story that is designed to tug at your heart strings, so... the characters are not developed enough? There are many characters in many different storylines/missions that sometimes meet back together, as is the case with any ensemble cast movie, so... the movie should have been 3 hours long with a narrator explaining to you what was going on with each scene change?
The point of the movie was about the Nazi threat to the cultural achievements over the past centuries, and how that threat was identified and combated by a group of middle-aged art professionals. I really liked that for once we didn't have some Tarentino-type decapitations, or intestines sprawled on the ground, and cussing for the sake of cussing. No shock value kind of stuff, which I suppose maybe made some people bored. But this is not that kind of movie. This movie told a valuable story based on a true story, in an older-type way, with men who you felt were leaders who led with courage. It is another tale out of many, of lesser-known heroes overcoming adversity against Nazis. This movie is focused more on the overall story of a broad mission like as if looking down at the entire chess board, rather than following just one piece.
Bottom-line: This was an enjoyable movie, and I do feel well-articulated a valuable point about the importance of protecting our cultural achievements in the face of evil who would either highjack that history or destroy it. I feel like it was well-acted in part because none of the actors seemed like they were there to steal scenes, but rather play their parts more subtly and just respect the history. You could follow the story just fine contrary to what people have said. Not the best WW2 movie I've ever seen (thus 4 stars instead of 5), but still a good addition to any WW2 movie collection.
58 of 74 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Saving the Past to Enrich the Future,
During WWII, there was a group of soldiers and civilians who scoured Europe in order to "safeguard historic and cultural monuments from war damage, and as the conflict came to a close, to find and return works of art and other items of cultural importance that had been stolen" (quote from Wikipedia). This was something that had never been done before in war; in the past it had almost always been "to the victor belong the spoils." However, the Allies (not including Russia) realized that the preservation of art and culture was part of what they were fighting to protect. To make a better future, they wanted to save, protect, and preserve the past. Some of the undertakings of a few of the Monuments Men were told in the 2009 book THE MONUMENTS MEN and that book is what formed the basis for the movie THE MONUMENTS MEN.
Directed and co-written by George Clooney, THE MONUMENTS MEN follows a group of artists as they travel through Europe in an attempt to save and protect works of art and return those pieces to their rightful owners. Clooney stars in the movie as Frank Stokes. Stokes petitions President Roosevelt to let him assemble a group of artists and scholars that will be sent to Europe to protect works of art, architecture, and items of historical importance from destruction and return stolen items to their rightful owners. He recruits his good friend James Granger (Matt Damon) to assist him with his efforts. Together the two men round up the rest of their troop: Richard Campbell (Bill Murray), Walter Garfield (John Goodman), Preston Savitz (Bob Balaban), Donald Jeffries (Hugh Bonneville), and Jean Claude Clermont (Jean Dujardin). After going through basic training in England and arriving in France a month after D-Day, the group enlists Sam Epstein (Dimitri Leonidas), a German Jew who fled to America with his family as a child, to be their translator. The team splits off to different parts of the continent and while in Paris Granger meets Claire Simon (Cate Blanchett) who eventually provides him with key information to finding and retrieving lost artifacts. It all becomes a hunt against time as it becomes clear that Germany will lose the war, but the stakes are raised as the Russians refuse to return any stolen goods, claiming them as restitution for the twenty-million people the war cost them.
The acting in the movie is well done. Clooney and Damon portray characters that seem similar to other characters they have played before. All the lead cast gets at least one big moment to shine in this piece. However, I was particularly impressed by Bob Balaban, Bill Murray, and Cate Blanchett. Balaban's Preston Savitz is the eldest member of the group and has a wonderful dry sense of humor. The pairing of Balaban and Bill Murray was genius. Murray also has a moving solo scene that illustrates once again that Murray isn't just a comic actor, but a fine dramatic one, too. Meanwhile, Blanchett fills her role with all kinds of mesmerizing actions and movements. She's a pure delight to watch.
I enjoyed THE MONUMENTS MEN. Having read the book prior to seeing the film, I was surprised at how many of the stories from the book actually made it into the movie. There are some scenes that are added for dramatic effect. There are also certain events and people that have been condensed to make the story more cinematic, but overall the movie stays close to the source material. The one big thing I was surprised about were the names of the people in the movie: almost all of the major characters in THE MONUMENTS MEN are based upon real people, but for some reason they are given different names in the movie.
The movie never steers away from the importance of the mission these men have undertaken. The audience is reminded of it several times by different characters throughout the film. However, the film also has a comic tone to it, which is somewhat surprising for a war movie. The comic tone doesn't take away from the seriousness of the subject matter, however. Nor does the film shy away from the real dangers of war. However, there are some who might find the dual comic-dramatic elements of the film to be confusing and, perhaps, even inappropriate. This shouldn't be the case: life is often tragic and comical at the same time. Tragedy and comedy might be opposites, but they are not mutually exclusive.
Overall, THE MONUMENTS MEN is an entertaining film that brings to light an important aspect of WWII history that is often overlooked. It's lighthearted, but doesn't glass over the risk and tragedy of war and it's a great reminder that the past should be saved in order to make the future worth living.
75 of 98 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging story and likable cast,
George Clooney, Cate Blamchett, Matt Damon, John Goodman - what's not to like? The fact that it's based on a true story lends tremendous weight to this tale, and gives it a real "feel good" atmosphere. There are elements of drama, and pieces of "real" acting, but the main reason to see this movie is the story itself, and what a tremendous story it is! As a matter of fact, it's really too big a story for any 2 hour movie to do it adequate justice, but it comes close enough to make it worthwhile. As I have learned subsequently, the movie actually only depicts a part of the effort to retrieve the art stolen by the Nazis, but it is more than enough to convey the obstacles faced - and surmounted - by the talented, brave, and utterly determined band of individuals, of all nationalities who risked much (and sometimes all) to ensure that humanity's greatest treasures did not end up in the dustbin of history.
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Total waste of time,
I don't spend much time reviewing movies. But, in this case...I have to let people know that this is a mind-numbingly boring movie. They sucker you in with a cast of actors that have actually produced wonderful movies. (other movies). And...not for one moment do you find their characters interesting in the least. They're flat and dull. All of the action in the movie takes place with other characters between scenes...so you don't actually see any of the action. There's no point in the movie were you care at all for the Monuments men. They're out to rescue stolen art, which we never see stolen...and we learn nothing about the art itself...save for a piece or two. And all of the actual rescuing, as mentioned, happens off screen. It's waste of a good cast...whom weren't even given good lines. They say nothing moving, nothing inspirational, nothing worth quoting. It would have been much better if this was just a PBS documentary...without the pretense of false drama. Sorry I don't have anything good to say about it.
28 of 38 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Artificial Feel,
Problems right off the bat:
1. Certain types of movies, especially docudramas, should not be cast with well known, famous names. Their personalities detract from what were common, everyday down-to-earth people. The actors seemed more like caricatures of themselves.
2. If there was a war going on you would never know it. Seemed more like a tour of famous art collections in Hollywood.
3. The dialogue not only seemed misplaced but had that Hollywood writer speak to it; overeducated, over articulated Beverly Hills cleanliness.
4. Speaking of cleanliness did you see any dents, scratches on the vehicles let along dust? Even the uniforms had that freshly manicured look. Why is that important? Attention to detail is one indicator of authenticity.
5. Most importantly I couldn't get any emotional attachment to anything including that most important goal of saving works of art. They could have been saving truckloads of McDonald's burgers and I wouldn't have known any differently.
42 of 58 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice, But Incomplete,
Why does George Clooney have to pontificate? I'm happy just to watch him for an hour or so. He has assembled an attractive cast, collaborated on the PG-13 screenplay, and directed this piece, but sometimes....
Okay, let's talk about the film. As we all know, Adolph Hitler intended to amass the world's greatest collection of classic art for his Thousand-Year Reich; as a result he plundered museums, churches, art galleries and private collections. (Modern art, created by upstarts like Pablo Picasso and his ilk, was simply burned.) FDR tasked a group of art historians and museum curators to find the missing art, the fear being that as the Nazis lost the war, they might simply burn EVERYTHING. This fictionalized story is inspired by that directive.
If you want to see the actual MONUMENTAL task undertaken by the Allied forces (NOT just American) please check out "The Rape of Europa," which is a jaw-dropping documentary drawn from newsreels, photographs and film clips. Only one scene in this drama alludes to the Allied effort to avoid bombing certain buildings as the war continued. You will never look at European art (or architecture) the same way again. Notice that Amazon has both DVDs offered side by side!
For this story, here are some of the actors we admire:
* George Clooney ("Gravity") is Frank Stokes, the idealistic leader of this little squad, which is comprised of men from the art world, who will recognize fine art when they see it. Each has, for one reason or another, been declared "unfit" for regular duty.
* Matt Damon ("Elysium") plays James Granger, an art professional pulled from his duties in New York City, to try and rescue priceless European art. He learned to speak (poor) French in Canada and he never forgets he has a wife and two daughters waiting for him...
* Bill Murray ("Hyde Park on the Hudson") is Richard Campbell, stuck with the obstacle course in basic training and an armed Nazi, later.
* Jean Dujardin (an Oscar for "The Artist") is Jean Claude Clermont, recruited to help because he is French and actually CARES what happens to their art. I've only seen this actor in comic roles, so was pleasantly surprised!
* Cate Blanchett ("Blue Jasmine") plays Claire Simone, an employee of the Jeu de Paume, who kept meticulous records of the art that came through her museum.
I particularly liked seeing George's handsome father play Frank Stokes 30 years later when he visits Michelangelo's Madonna and Child with a grandson in Bruges. What a nice touch!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Monumental Men,
There are so many things to praise this movie for, but I will focus on two:
1) The central theme about how art in many ways not only represents a culture, but *is* the culture. Long after a given group of people are gone art is often the sole evidence that they existed - lived, loved, fought....the themes of the art reflect the lives of the people who created. I think this could be a clarion call to examine the "art" we are leaving behind....if it is not reflecting something worth treasuring, then maybe we need to re-examine our culture.
2) Clooney did not cater to the lowest common denominator in this film. No cheap laughs, no kow-towing to familiar tropes that are all too common and cheapen other films. Without spoiling anybody there was a scene in the film where a couple characters were in a situation that seemed to be heading toward something that is done all too often in films and tv, most of the time in no way advancing the story or character development. My husband and I looked at each other and said "Oh NO! Don't do that!" and they didn't! =)
It was refreshing to see a film where men who were clearly flawed and very human rose to the occasion with honor. Which if we go back to my first point still means there is hope for this world. =)
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Popular Faces,
If you like face shots of popular male stars and disjointed segments that added nothing to the plot: you should watch this movie. What could have been an interesting part of history.....was diluted to the ridiculous!
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The Monuments Men (Blu-Ray +DVD +Digital HD) by George Clooney (Blu-ray - 2014)