‘The Monuments Men’ looking like a shrine to inadequacy

BY TROY PHILLIPSimages

Some movies project as quality cinema based solely off the trailer and the concept of the film. In my mind, and I’m sure I’m not alone, The Monuments Men earned such a label.

However, now that critics have had their peek at the entire product, the returns don’t look nearly as promising. 

The film is was written and directed by George Clooney, and follows the adventures of a group of ragtag soldiers tasked with staying one step ahead of the Nazi party’s destruction and recovering precious art amidst the downfall of the axis in World War II. The cast is world class, featuring Matt Damon, Bill Murray and John Goodman, along with plenty of other recognizable names.

looney has sat in the directors chair four other times throughout an illustrious acting career, and despite only achieving moderate success while doing so, it was reasonable to believe he could lift a good base concept from the ground and send it merrily on its way.

Unfortunately, Clooney may be the biggest reason why the script hasn’t translated from the writers’ room to the big screen.  So far, The Monuments Men has garnered a lukewarm 30% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. If anything, percentages are often inflated pre-release as producers can screen the critics that receive an advanced look and weed out potential cynics. Either that wasn’t a priority for Clooney and Co. or this movie really is primed to fall flat on its face. Feast your eyes on a few excerpts that have surfaced.

Kenneth Turan, LA Times “Earnest and well-intentioned but ultimately inert, The Monuments Men talks a better game than it can deliver.”

Manohla Dargis, New York Times, “Because Mr. Clooney can’t figure out what kind of story this is, he too often slips into pandering mode, including in his own performance, which is filled with too many smiles and speeches.”

Jason-Zingale, Bullz-Eye.com “A giant mess tonally… It’s as if [Clooney] was caught in two minds as to which kind of movie he wanted to make.”

Understand that Bullz-Eye.com is not a publication on par with the New York or LA Times, but I happened to find these three statements in succession, stacked on top of one another. Three consecutive reviewers all saying essentially the same thing: It’s hard to understand what The Monuments Men is trying to accomplish. The flash appeal doesn’t hold a candle to cold, hard execution, which has to be on point anytime you invite war buffs into your target demographic.

I’m still likely to catch The Monuments Men at one point or another (after being coerced by a few of those aforementioned war hawks), but my expectations are tempered. At this stage in the process, best case scenario is for the critical reception to stabilize at bad-not-terrible and generate decent box office numbers from those willing to disregard the talking heads.

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