Director George Clooney’s war epic about historians racing to save art from the Nazis looks and feels like it was taken out of a time capsule buried in 1958.
The Monuments Men is quite breezy for a war movie, and is peppered with laughs provided by a strong cast, including Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban and John Goodman, as men trying to thwart Hitler’s plan for a giant museum.
The film has one of those whistle-infused soundtracks, and it doesn’t hurt that Clooney and Dujardin remind of Errol Flynn and Gene Kelly. The movie moves briskly—in fact, it may be a bit too weightless for a movie with such heavy subject matter. It also has a useless subplot involving characters played by Damon and Cate Blanchett that was deserving of the cutting-room floor. When they are alone on screen, the film comes to a dead stop.
Still, Clooney has a great command of the camera here; the ensemble (especially Murray and Goodman) shines; and the film is fun to watch. This is an interesting piece of World War II history, and it’s good that somebody has made a decent movie to cover it.
Initially, this was expected to be a big awards contender last year. However, the release date got moved, with producers claiming they needed to do some more special-effects work. They may have taken a look at it, realized they had a good but not great movie, and decided to give it a less-competitive opening date in 2014. The film wound up taking in $154 million worldwide on a $70 million budget, so things worked out just fine on the money front.
Special Features: A relatively meager gathering of supplements that includes deleted scenes and some short making-of docs.