Ever since I can remember, war-related films and documentaries have generally had a positive outcome whether it is at the box office or gaining popularity among audiences. Saving Private Ryan, Platoon, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, and most recently Lone Survivor are all prime examples of this accomplishment. However, can a war film about art and the valiant effort it takes to make sure it’s protected and cherished for a lifetime be just as popular?
The Monuments Men, a film directed and partially written by George Clooney follows several men as they journey into Nazi-infested countries during WWII in hopes to recapture stolen art before it is taken by Adolf Hitler for his own viewing pleasure. The seven men (Clooney, Damon, Murray, Goodman, Dujardin, Balaban, and Bonneville) all of whom specialize in a certain art realm, are challenged by allied forces and enemies as they persist into selected countries to rescue said art. Facing challenges and multiple encounters with Nazi soldiers, the seven men must figure out where and how they plan to retrieve the artwork before it is burned or lost forever.
Don’t get me wrong, the actual story, (because it’s based on true events) is somewhat touching and memorable. A story about a few men, who have no soldier like qualities venturing into Nazi-infested land without the help of any allied sources to recapture stolen art is beyond brave and courageous. But to fall head over heels for the actual film itself is not at all worth it.
When the characters aren’t talking strategy, they’re simply continuing the storyline, which is just plain boring. Comedy, which is often not seen in this genre, is often shown but must be understood as controlling humor. The actors who we all know and love (Goodman, Murray and Damon) help to entertain us at times where we may not be intrigued with the story. A fat man being shot at (Goodman), the pain of receiving dental work (Murray), and the admiral charm and charisma of attitude towards the ladies (Damon) are what help the movie progress. Because it’s based on actual events, narration by Clooney’s character at times is also natural and fulfilling.
The camera work and quality is somewhat pleasing. Simple movements and shots provide us with easily understood views and perspectives, but that’s it. To be amused over a few men, who chose to risk their lives for tens of thousands of artifacts in movie perspective, is just not interesting. To say that art can be popular in a war related sense is delicate. It’s about the style and universality the story should explain.