The first reviews are out for George Clooney's World War II "Monuments Men" and they're not so great.
The film, based on the book by Robert M. Edsel, follows George Stout (Clooney) and Lieutenant James J. Rorimer (Matt Damon) as they assemble a rag-tag group of men to save art from being destroyed by Nazis. Basically, it sounds like "Ocean's Eleven" during World War II.
Clooney co-wrote and directed the film that was originally set to debut in December.
When the movie was pushed back until February the actor said it was to avoid the very crowded holiday season and allow for all of its visual effects to be completed.
Other reports claimed Clooney was trying to figure out the tone of the movie.
Either way, it sounds like film delay wasn't worth the wait.
"The Monuments Men" opens Friday, February 7.
Critics had a lot of issues with the movie. It was "dull" and Clooney didn't set the bar high enough.
"It’s not only the great works of European art that have gone missing in “The Monuments Men”; the spark of writer-director-star George Clooney’s filmmaking is absent, too. … Clooney has transformed a fascinating true-life tale into an exceedingly dull and dreary caper pic cum art-appreciation seminar — a museum-piece movie about museum people."
"It’s a graceful, engaging film—I enjoyed it. But it could have been called The Tasteful Dozen. … [George Clooney] plays it so safe. Perhaps fearful of being called exploitative, he doesn’t bring out the tension between timeless masterpieces and the chaos and obscenity of war. He doesn’t even linger on the paintings and sculptures, which seem like fodder, MacGuffins. And he panders to the mainstream audience. ... I can’t predict if there will be a huge audience for The Monuments Men, but in its way it’s a great piece of escapism."
Indiewire says one of its main problems is dividing up the talent on screen:
"It's tragically short on momentum and instead spirals out into a series of rambling, uninvolving subplots where the actors are paired up with someone else and sent to fiddle around in Nazi-occupied Europe."
… Balaban and Murray are an odd couple sent in search of a priceless piece of Roman Catholic artwork, while Clooney generally tries to figure out what the hell is going on, and Goodman and Dujardin are up to... something. The best, most emotionally gripping subplot involves Damon traveling to a recently freed Paris to try and convince Cate Blanchett, a fastidious member of the rebellion, to spill the beans as to where the art is being secreted away."
IGN goes so far as to suggest it doesn't seem like you're watching a finished version of the film.
"The Monuments Men plays like a first cut, that rough assemblage of footage cobbled together for the filmmakers to see and judge but not the public, leaving one to assume the film simply got away from director George Clooney and his team in the editing room. It's a shame because there's a fine and engaging wartime tale in there somewhere, but not up on the screen."
Despite all that, the performances by the A-list actors are great.
"Clooney excels as MFAA leader Frank Stokes, a character inspired by George Stout, who was doing art restoration at Harvard's Fogg Museum when duty called. … The bantering between Clooney and Damon gives the film a buoyant lift, but the seriousness of their mission is never in doubt."
"Faring generally better are Murray and Balaban, who foster a nicely understated comic chemistry and seem to have decided to make the most of their underwritten scenes. In one of the only moments of 'The Monuments Men' that strikes a real chord, Murray receives a homemade recording of his grandchildren singing 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas ...'"
Cate Blanchett shines above them all.IGN:
"Blanchett's fine as Claire Simone, the French woman whose job as a secretary for the Nazis proves key to the Monuments Men's mission. Her character at least has some sense of identity and stakes. A whole movie about her probably would have been as (if not more) compelling that one about the Monuments Men."
The Hollywood Reporter (THR):
"Blanchett gives the most edge to her role but even her character is held back a bit in her dealings with Damon's upstanding fellow."
The film looks and sounds great with a score from Alexandre Desplat ("The King's Speech"):
"The physical production is exquisite, with cinematographer Phedon Papamichael, an Oscar nominee for Nebraska, shooting on locations in Germany and England that stand in for a whole world at war."
"The Monuments Men" is gorgeously shot by 'The Descendants' DP Phedon Papamichael with a muted palette that suggests that colors were also rationed during World War II. Desplat's score manages to be both grating and over-the-top but also rousing and beautiful."Overall consensus:
If you were expecting "Ocean's Eleven" that's a different heist film. A few added months doesn't seem to do much for the World War II spectacle. However, if you're a fan of Clooney and Damon together and want to see a superb cast of actors share screen time, then check it out. Just know what you're getting yourself into.
Check out a trailer for the film:
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