Friday, March 28, 2014

Movie Review: The Monuments Men (2014)

If you enjoy World War II movies, then The Monuments Men will provide a unique and exciting departure from your typical wartime movie.

The Monuments Men is the story of an unlikely World War II platoon tasked by FDR with going into Germany to rescue artistic masterpieces from the Nazis and returning them to their rightful owners. As The Third Reich falls and orders are given to destroy everything, the Monuments Men are in a race against time to avoid the destruction of 1000 years of culture. Can this group of seven museum directors, curators, and art historians, succeed in protecting and defending mankind's greatest achievements?

Based on a true story documented in Robert M. Edsels' book of the same title, The Monuments Men is unlike any World War II movie I've ever seen before. While there is definitely action and thrills as the Monuments Men race to find the treasures before they are destroyed by the Nazis or stolen by the Russians seeking to plunder their enemy's spoils, for the most part the story of this unlikely platoon unfolds methodically, taking place in numerous locations at the same time.

George Clooney wrote the screenplay and also directed and starred in the movie. If you're expecting Ocean's Eleven type of action, you'll be disappointed. But if you're looking for a complex story of intrigue and adventure dashed with action, this is the perfect choice. Other stars include Bill Murray, Matt Damon, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin (The Wolf of Wall Street), Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey), and Bob Balaban (The West Wing, Seinfeld). Cate Blanchett plays Claire Simone, a volunteer at the Jeu de Paume museum who is instrumental in helping the Monuments Men discovering the looted works of art.

My husband and I went to see this movie in the theater on March 14, 2014. We had divided feelings on The Monuments Men. I loved it so much that I ordered Edsel's book the next day. My husband, however, was looking for more action from a wartime movie. Why I believe this is such a superb movie--besides the excellent acting by this powerhouse of stars--is that these were ordinary men and a woman making a difference during the war for something they were passionate about. These men did not have military experience. This woman secretly spied on the Nazis once they occupied her country and was vital to so many of the missing pieces being rescued. That's an amazing feat. And I feel all the actors and the screenplay captured their accomplishments and their passion well. I particularly thought the opening scene with Frank Stokes (George Clooney) and the ending scene that takes place years after the war is over, display what these men and this woman set out to accomplish and honors them for it.

Highly recommended!

Release Date: 7 February 2014 (USA)
Production Co: Columbia Pictures, Fox 2000 Pictures, Smokehouse Pictures and more
Rated PG-13 for some images of war violence and historical smoking
Runtime: 118 min

This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

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