The Monuments Men Blu-ray Review
During World War II the greatest works of art, those pieces we consider essential blocks of human history, were on the brink of destruction. In a new film based on a true story THE MONUMENTS MEN are recruited by a professor who convinces the President to send them in to the warzone in an attempt to save these precious pieces of human history. The film is a veritable “who’s who” in Hollywood and is the latest directorial work from actor/writer/director George Clooney, who once again steps both behind and in front of the camera for this mediocre effort.
THE MONUMENTS MEN is kind of a tough sell. In the final days of World War II, just after the United States joins the fight, Clooney’s Frank Stokes goes to the US Government with a pitch to save the world’s most cherished art from the destruction of war. The reason it’s a tough sell might seem obvious and they thankfully play it out several times in the film, with commanders telling Stokes’ team that he isn’t going to write home to some boys mother to tell her he died to save a painting. It’s a valid point and one the movie tries and mostly fails to counter. The argument to save these great works is a valid one, but the film spends too much time in self-flagellation and not enough time giving us the WHY. Instead of showing us the ramifications of a world without these works we are given lip-service scenes, hokey music, and boring exposition.
That Clooney has come so far without such a mess must be at least partly luck given this film. Still, it’s a rare misfire for someone who’s previous films include THE IDES OF MARCH (2011) GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK (2005) and CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND (2002). (No, I am intentionally not going to mention LEATHERHEADS). He’s been a genius with putting slow-burn scenarios into context that makes them positively gripping so you would think this would be a home-run and bring home the Oscar gold, right? Clooney has proven he’s got the chops both in writing and directing, as well as being one of the most sought after actors in the world. But his turn as Frank Stokes is a bit wooden, only having a few worthwhile scenes when he’s onscreen with pal Matt Damon. But even these scenes are missing the crackle of their previous collaborations. Instead of relying on the power of the story to bring us emotion, Clooney has relegated himself to the world of Lifetime suck-fest, using musical cues and choppy editing to try to fix this broken film.
And by the way, one of the final and most insulting scenes, in my humble opinion, where Clooney’s Stokes tells off a Nazi who formerly worked at a concentration camp, does not honor the individuals who gave their lives or the Jews who were killed by the Nazis. Rather, the scene, as a microcosm of the movie as a whole, pays lip-service to one of the world’s greatest historical tragedies. Thank goodness for John Goodman as Walter Garfield, Jean Dujardin (THE ARTIST) as Walter’s French counterpart Jean Claude Clermont, and Bob Balaban (as Preston Savitz), who at least give their (uneven) all despite the horrifyingly bad script and other gimmicks.
In the end, THE MONUMENTS MEN feels more like a Hollywood showcase than the important film everyone seems to think they’re making. Grandiose gestures and a smirk may have a home in OCEAN’S ELEVEN and other fun movies, but this one seems to say ‘look at the important film we’re making’ and is a real turn-off to this reviewer. Thank goodness next to nobody saw it or we could have been in for a huge debacle. An unsatisfying watch, though I’m sure it will hit the ‘film club’/Opera circuit, THE MONUMENTS MEN does nothing well. Hopefully this isn’t a precursor to future works from Clooney (I’m not writing him off yet). Sadly, unlike the precious works of art they saved, this one will hopefully disappear into history.
THE MONUMENTS MEN BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2.40:1) THE MONUMENTS MEN has a nice video presentation that immerses the viewer into 1940’s wartime Europe.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The audio track on THE MONUMENTS MEN is similarly brilliant and similarly wasted on the material.
Deleted Scenes (02:14) Two scenes cut from THE MONUMENTS MEN are presented here, neither one worth checking out as they don’t add anything to the already languid film.
In Their Own Words (12:12) THE MONUMENTS MEN pays tribute to the real men who went into the warzone with brief interview snippets intercut with way too many clips from the movie.
Marshalling the Troops (07:54) Here’s THE MONUMENT MEN’s Hollywood showcase. Isn’t it great that they at least play a little tongue-in-cheek with the huge cast? The answer is No. It isn’t.
George Clooney’s Mission (05:10) A look at Clooney’s passion for the material and his work both in front of and behind the camera. I’m sorry his passion for THE MONUMENTS MEN did not play out on screen, I know he has it in him to make a better movie than this.
A Woman Amongst THE MONUMENTS MEN (04:24) This short special feature highlights the work of Cate Blanchett, who is basically the only female character in THE MONUMENTS MEN. Thank goodness we can all smile and laugh on set (not).
The Blu-ray of THE MONUMENTS MEN also features a standard definition DVD copy of the film and an UltraViolet DigitalHD digital copy, along with previews for other recent releases.