Film Review: The Monuments Men

I was worried going into The Monuments Men, partly because having seen the trailer I wasn’t 100% sold on it as a film as a concept and cast, and secondly I had the overriding sense that I was going to be in for 2 hours of slapstick silliness and over the top one liners. It essentially struck me as nothing more than a Ocean’s 11 “the OAP” years, but with a plot based on loosely on real life events.

However, what I got was completely different. The film has problems, but I got an nostalgic reminiscence of M*A*S*H and it’s ability to take a serious subject, layout it out in simplistic terms but carry enough edge to hammer home it’s point and then lace it with just the right amount of humor. If Hawkeye and Trapper John were gracing our TV screens today this is how I’d expect they’d do it. Thankfully though, they are not, because while I got a sense of M*A*S*H this certainly is not M*A*S*H; it wants to be M*A*S*H. but sadly it’s fallen quite a long way short. It’s missing that sense of despair, that sense of dirt, it’s missing the destruction of war. War is matte, The Monuments Men is full on gloss.

The film’s main objective, the point critical to its plot is the idea that without art and history people cannot exists. We are who we are not because of the actions of those who went before us and the teachings, and effects they had on the world. I get this, George Clooney makes a big speech about it at the start, it’s why The Monuments Men were formed. But the film treats its audience like they need a constant reminder of this. As if we might have forgotten. So every so often… Ok regularly… a cast member will happily point this fact out to a point where it becomes annoying.

I also found the movie rather confusing from a point of view of traffic and travel. Firstly they appear to be able to travel around Europe fast they anyone in history, while talking on the world’s most powerful home built radio. One minute they’ll be in Belgium, the next day in Germany, all happily chatting to Matt Damon who is tucked happily up Paris on pre-mentioned radio. Secondly, and talking of Matt Damon, his role does have a huge sense Linus from the Oceans trilogy, but when he first gets to France the production team seem to have forgotten their geography, as rural France appeared to me to have an overwhelming look of the chocolate box English village to it and when he befriends a local and wants to fly to Paris – yep “we’ll just hop into my British registered tiger moth“.

Thankfully though, while I’m sure there is a large portion of the usual American “we won the war who cares about history” to the plot and sadly, Matt Damon tells an incarcerated Cate Blanchett that without him “she’d be speaking German” (you are allowed to groan, very loudly, at thispoint) it is noticeable though that the only members of their “unit” to die weren’t from the good old US of A. Poor Lord Grantham.

However, the biggest problem I had with The Monuments Men, isn’t with the film but rather with the cinema audience I shared the experience with. I accept, that in a full-ish cinema, you’ll get some whispering, talking, popcorn munching, all completely against the Wittertainment “Code of Conduct” I believe in so much but I cannot accept people kicking my chair before resting there foot on my arm rest, and therefore, my arm. And it goes beyond belief to even comprehend the idea of a crying baby. In essentially a Nazi war film! Yes it’s a 12A but a newborn baby? Really? All of which I was treated to. And worse still, the mother of said baby, was obviously so desperate to see this film that as baby cried louder and louder she just “shushed” it louder and louder, firstly from the back row, then from the front row and finally from the door way.


It must be said that Vue Cinema handled my issues brilliantly and apologetically – I now have 3 complimentary tickets – but it’s left me with a major problem. Part of me wants to go back, see the film again, without crying babies and bored half term teenagers, to see if it’s more enjoyable in a less stressful atmosphere, but sadly, the bits I did get to see have left me feeling that it’s not a movie I really want to sit through again anyway.

I think my Mother summed it up best when she said afterwards “…it’s a Sunday evening film for ITV that Mum and Dad will watch while the kids play X-Box”.

7 out of 10 stars (7 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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