Movie Review: The Monuments Men (2014)

imageFor a film ostensibly about the preservation of art, it’s a shame that The Monuments Men (D+) is about as compelling as watching paint dry. George Clooney has oceans of resources to pull off an ensemble; and as star, co-writer and director, he tackles the tale of an elite force in WWII responsible for saving famous works of art from falling in the hands of the Nazis or from being destroyed. From the opening moments, the tone is just wrong: a strangely old-fashioned Hogan’s Heroes style pervading with clunky lighting and art direction and slow fades from preachy, pedantic exchanges by a cast of talented and woefully underused actors. Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett are among the ensemble members given very little material with which to work. What’s left is episodic. The high stakes heart of the mission seems oddly intellectual when it should feel urgent. This is a good premise that fell into uneasy directorial hands. It’s as if there were enthusiasm for the notion of the film followed by two hours of the air letting out of the balloon.