“The Monuments Men,” based on a true story, takes moviegoers on a journey with a handful of museum directors, curators and art historians to go behind enemy lines in World War II to save some of art’s greatest works from being stolen by Nazi Germany. The film tells a fascinating and untold story. Since its release, however, the film, directed by and starring George Clooney (“Gravity”), has received mixed reviews.
Many critics aren’t too keen on the film, saying it has good intentions but falls short of expectations. Other critics praised the film, saying it recalls a time of movie-making that didn’t require overwhelming special effects and explicit romantic affairs. Perhaps some hoped for more wartime action or deeper development of the characters, which are dutifully played by several well-liked actors, such as Matt Damon (“Elysium”), John Goodman (“Inside Llewyn Davis”) and Clooney himself. The film’s attempt to transcend genres makes it impossible to truly appreciate; it’s much too spread out, much like its plot, which follows stolen pieces of art from city to city.
“Monuments Men” is neither a masterpiece nor an utter failure. Yes, the film lacks many of today’s expected characteristics, but it succeeds in telling a worthwhile story. Some may say that this film is forgettable and not worth your time, but I’d argue it’s a tasteful portrayal of an event of which more people should be aware. On the surface, “The Monuments Men” lacks many of the aspects that could have made this movie a crowd favorite, but it sends a deeper message that would have been overlooked had the film been a bit more dramatic.
Art, especially in the form of preserved paintings and sculptures, is not simply a form of entertainment. It’s a chronicle of peoples’ accomplishments and an acknowledgement of what the human race can do. This is the message “The Monuments Men” clearly attempts to send to the viewer. Still the question remains: Is art worth dying for? That is the conflict “The Monuments Men” mulls over.
3 out of 5 stars