movies: the monuments men

the monuments men - it was the greatest art heist in history
The overwhelming impression of The Monuments Men is that it's a prequel to the Oceans movies (Oceans 11, 12 and 13). I mean not really, but when you have an ensemble cast led by George Clooney and Matt Damon, you're going to be reminded of those movies.

Doubly so given that the whole cast, apart from Cate Blanchett is decidedly male. I mean, it is a war movie, after all.

However it doesn't have any of the pop and sizzle of the Oceans movies. Sure it's "based on a true story", which means that the general facts are mostly true and everything else is made up, and it's a story that I wasn't familiar with, which makes it interesting enough on it's own... but it just fell a little flat over all.

Mostly that's the fault of the story... it sets itself up something like a heist movie... the bad guys have stolen all the art and this plucky band of, essentially, old men need to steal it back. And after a couple of genuine moments of peril and danger in the first half of the movie, there are several others which set up the idea of danger and risk, but never follow through. And maybe that's how it all really happened, but pulling the rug out from under an audiences expectations doesn't make for the best movie.

Especially, mild spoiler alert, building up the commander of the Russian forces as this major threat and having him rolling into town as our boys try and rescue some particular artworks, and then to not do anything with that character or situation was a fairly major let down. Like I said, maybe that's exactly what happened in reality, but it still could have been handled better.

For the most part, the cast is excellent... George and Matt have a definite chemistry on screen and it's always great to watch. The rest of the team is made up of people who's faces you automatically recognise, even if you don't always know where you know them from... and they may be looking a fair bit older than they did the last time you saw them.

There's Bill Murray, John Goodman, Bob Balaban (who has been in about a billion different things, and while the name might not be familiar, the fact should be), Downton Abbey's Hugh Bonneville, and French actor Jean Dujardin.

And with what they're given to do, they're all excellent... I just can't help thinking that they could have handled a lot more. And they could definitely have done with characters who were more fleshed out than they were...

To be honest, the movie feels like it spends more time developing Cate Blanchett's character than any of the others. And the only other character she interacts with is Damon.

Overall it's an interesting peek into a facet of World War II I wasn't aware of, and it has some great moments, but it's neither as funny as it wanted to be at times nor as dramatic as I think it needed to be at others.

yani's rating: 1 Old Master out of 5

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