News

REVIEW: George Clooney paints history with ‘Monuments Men’

REVIEW: George Clooney paints history with ‘Monuments Men’

Matt Damon and George Clooney star in "The Monuments Men." Photo: Associated Press/Columbia Pictures, Claudette Barius

Genre:  Action, Biography, Drama | Run Time: 118 min | Rated: PG-13
Director: George Clooney | Starring: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville, Bob Balaban

By: George Wolf

There are many stories in war, some better known than others. With The Monuments Men, George Clooney shines a bright Hollywood spotlight on one of the lesser known aspects of World War II, and manages to make it an informative and entertaining affair.

True, the story of how the Nazis stole countless art treasures in Europe was outlined by the excellent 2006 documentary The Rape of Europa, and 42 years before that, Burt Lancaster tried to keep precious artifacts from reaching Germany in The Train. But the tale of this heroic group is fresh territory, and in adapting the source book, director Clooney and his usual co-writer Grant Heslov again show fine instincts for making a historical drama resonate.

Clooney also stars as the leader of the titular platoon, an older group of art experts called into military service and tasked with rescuing the stolen works and when possible, returning them to the rightful owners. He’s surrounded by a winning cast with plenty of star power, including Matt Damon, John Goodman, Bill Murray, and Cate Blanchett as a suspicious Frenchwoman who becomes very helpful to the cause.

Factual liberties are taken, of course, but give Clooney and Heslov credit for keeping a good heart beating beneath the big-scale production. The heavy toll of war, the enduring power of art, and the souls at the center of each are given due respect, even as the film becomes a nail-biting chase to rescue a priceless Michelangelo before it falls into wrong hands.

As a director, Clooney is a bit more obvious this time out, and there are segments when things becomes a tad too lighthearted, such as reminders of some of the cast’s previous films which may or may not have been intentional. In fact, the struggle to find a suitable tone is the film’s main weakness, as the cinematic heights Clooney reached in Good Night and Good Luck or The Ides of March are sacrificed to give the film more mass appeal.

But ultimately, The Monuments Men is a tale that deserves a wide audience, and Clooney may prove just the right artist to get that job done.

Verdict 3 Stars

Read more movie reviews at MaddWolf.com.

Recent Headlines

in Entertainment

Countdown: Supporting characters that need their own movie

From left: Jon Gries (Uncle Rico), Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) and Aaron Ruell (Kip) in "Napoleon Dynamite," a comedy about a quirky teenager growing up in the remotes of Idaho, trying to understand his life.

Which of these supporting characters should have their own movies?

in Music

Shania Twain will end her Vegas run in December

shania

The country star will end a two-year Vegas residency later this year.

in Entertainment

Zach Braff: Not dating Taylor Swift

zachbraff

The "Scrubs" star says he isn't dating the "Love Story" hitmaker.

in Entertainment

You can watch every episode of ‘The Simpsons’ in epic marathon

simpsons

A Web site and app features on-demand access to all 500 episodes and let users search through the life stories of the characters.

in Viral Videos

Honest ‘Forrest Gump’ trailer

Honest Forrest Gump

Take an honest look at the film that beat "Pulp Fiction," and "The Shawshank Redemption" for Best Picture in 1994.