The Monuments Men is set in World War II and follows the true story of Frank Stokes (George Clooney) who is assigned, along with James Rorimer (Matt Damon) and five other unlikely heroes, to fly into Germany and steal back the thousands of priceless pieces of art that have been stolen by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. This film was originally slated for a 2013 release date, right when the Academy would be looking for Oscar-worthy films, but was hesitantly delayed until 2014, kicking it out of the 2013 Awards Season.
I was very much looking forward to this film, until the reviews came out. The trailers for the film, along with the true story it's based upon, made the film look promising. The incredible cast and crew, Clooney set to star and direct, only gave me more hope. When the film was delayed, practically everyone's hopes were diminished, but I tried to stay positive. Then when the reviews came in, the film is currently sitting on a rotten 32% on Rotten Tomatoes, I felt as if all hopes for this movie were practically gone. Nevertheless I ensured that once the film was available to me, and thanks to an Ultraviolet code trade it now is, I would still see it. Was it as great as I was first hoping it to be? Far from it, but it wasn't bad either.
The film's intentions are far greater than the execution. The film, along with the fantastic trailers, thinks that it's better than it actually is. It tries very hard to go down as a noble and courageous war film, but ends up being bland and generic. One of the reasons, for me at least, that makes this film watchable is the fact that it's a true story. Despite the film not being noble and courageous, the men who had to do this were. Their story needed to be told and for that, I respect this film more than I probably should.
The performances in the film are all incredible. The cast of this film is incredible so there was never a doubt in my mind that they would make this film, at least, watchable. They did far greater than that. The cast, while most not giving their greatest performances, were in fact, incredible. Like I said, I never doubted it. I am unsure of how true their characters are to the real people, but I can say this: they perfected the characters that we do see.
The humour fails to fit in. The film attempts to throw a reasonable amount of humour into the mix so that the film can be just a little more enjoyable than if it were a dark, serious and mature war film. The conclusion to this being a film that would work much better as a fully-fledged drama instead of a mostly dramatic war film featuring Bill Murray's failed attempt at jokes, which it is.
Many aspects of the film drag on for a few minutes too many. I didn't feel as though the overall runtime was a negative point about the film, but instead I felt as though some scenes have no reason to exist or drag on for as long as they drag on. There's a scene that's shown in the trailer when Matt Damon's character, James Rorimer, steps on an unexploded mine. This is one of the half dozen scenes in the film that deviates into the flow of the story and just doesn't belong.
To sum up, The Monuments Men contains several notable flaws, including unneeded scenes, a failed attempt at comedy and intentions far greater than the execution allows, but with these aside, the film can be a hell of a war movie.