Film review: The Monuments Men (6 out of 10)

Back in the 1960s and 70s there were several second world war movies that showed various aspects of the conflict, with the allies battling heroically against their foes to the background of a rousing music score.

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Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett in The Monuments MenMatt Damon and Cate Blanchett in The Monuments Men
Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett in The Monuments Men

Times moved on and film-makers concentrated on the more realistic side of war, the extreme suffering and devastation it causes.

So it was a bit of a surprise to discover that The Monuments Men harks back to that previous era with a group of brave academics fighting to preserve art.

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As the triumphant music resounds in the background, paintings and statues are saved by the thousand.

The problem is the movie doesn’t really convince and at times tries too hard to be a war film.

Based on a true story, The Monuments Men were a group of men brought together near the war’s end to ensure civilisation still had some culture left.

The men were either too old or physically unfit for active duty.

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While they weren’t sent into battle, they did face the prospect of coming up against pockets of German resistance as they tracked down artefacts.

The storyline sounds solid enough but this is a film that doesn’t really hit the mark.

Director, writer and star George Clooney leads a great cast but the characters are quickly split up and there are various stories going on, none of which are particularly satisfying.

Bill Murray is in charge of the comedy aspect which he is great at.

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However, Hugh Bonneville’s stiff upper lip Englishman is pretty cliched and John Goodman doesn’t have much to work with.

Matt Damon (apparently his character has a dicky heart) and ‘Frenchwoman’ Cate Blanchett have a promising plotline that fails to satisfy.

A few moments of tension are thrown in when the story starts to flag but some of these just feel a bit artificial.

Despite all this, The Monuments Men will keep you entertained for the most part (thanks to the strength of the cast) but I felt it would have made a much better documentary.

Film details: The Monuments Men (12A) 118mins

Director: George Clooney

Starring: George Clooney, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett

Screening courtesy of Cineworld Crawley