If you combined part of the cast of Ocean’s Eleven, with part of the cast from Roseanne, and threw in Cate Blanchett, you basically have the cast of The Monuments Men.  When considering that it’s directed, produced and written by George Clooney, it’s easy to tell, that if you make good with ol’ George, he’ll make good with you.  I.e. he’s basically the new Christopher Nolan.

So I worked out that it’s been almost three months since I’ve been to the movies.  Crazy, right?  Since it’s actually one of my favourite things to do (I don’t know if ‘sitting around and watching a movie’ counts as a hobby).  But at the start of the new year, Paul found a way to illegally download a whole bunch of films.  Which is highly illegal, I know.  Except, karma on us, the TV doesn’t support the hard drive.  Thus, no movie nights for us.

So, to break the drought we finally saw The Monuments Men, a American-German war film starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, John Goodman, Cate Blanchett and a whole bunch of other actors I won’t mention because then it destroys my Ocean’s Eleven/Roseanne theory.

The Monuments Men is loosely based on a true story.  Essentially, during World War Two, a group of men were assigned a mission by the United States where they would go into war-torn Europe and try to salvage well-known and influential art pieces that were either threatened to be destroyed as a casualty of war, or were simply stolen by Hitler.

Fun Fact: Hitler actually wanted to be an artist, but he was rejected.  Then, he wanted to be an architect, but he failed at that too.  So he settled to be the greatest dictator known to men.  So whether he stole the art because he had the mentality of ‘You don’t want to look at my art, you can’t look at any art!’ or was simply like ‘More precious things I can add to my list, after human lives and countries’, I think it’s safe to say that it was just another example of what an awful, awful human being was.  But I digress.

What I liked about The Monuments Men is that it’s a pretty awesome true story.  While they did cheese it up, add a bit of a romance, tears etc etc, American patriotism, bit of racism towards the Russians and so forth, at the heart of it it was pretty fantastic that a group of men went into the war to actively steal back priceless pieces of art.  Because (if the film is correct) Hitler had orders to have it all destroyed if Germany lost the war.  Which, obviously, they did.

However, the one thing about the storyline that didn’t sit well with me was the bravado that they attached to it; aren’t we amazing, saving pieces of art?  And while it definitely was an influential role that they played, and thank goodness it wasn’t something else that was lost to war, it does strike a bit of a sour note when you consider the millions of people who were struck in concentration camps at this time.  While that obviously wasn’t the focus on the film, it does help to put things in perspective.

Also, why the cast was impressive, and overall the acting and directing formidable, overall the film felt a bit slow, but also a bit heartless.  Not in a ‘you heartless bitch!’ kind of way but more of a ‘meh’ sort of way.  Each of the actors usually shine when they’re in their element, but they all kind of retreated, as though the presence of so many other well-known actors made them lazy.  And though it was an impressive storyline, I did find it a bit tedious at times, particularly when they really hammed it up for that cameras (oh America is amazing, and so forth).

Overall, it was enjoyable night out at the movies, and it was interesting to learn something new about World War Two.  I’m particularly interested in art and Nazi Germany history (morbid, I know), so in that regard it was a really interesting film.  However, I did think there was something lacking, and considering the line-up, not to mention the material they were working with, I felt that it fell a bit flat.

Have you seen The Monuments Men?  Did you know about the history of art during World War Two?  Let me know!