Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Monuments Men -- 'The Great Gatsby' of 2014?

The Monuments Men

Director: George Clooney
With: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville

Last year, before the awards season bloomed, The Monuments Men project of George Clooney and his co-producer Grant Heslov seems like a great subsequent for their Academy Award winning film Argo -- the arts, Hitler, World War 2, Clooney are good ingredients for a Best Picture recipe. Then its trailer came out and it looked like a huge misfire of a great opportunity. Interviews of the cast about the film also made it seem like it's more of an Ocean's 11/A-Team than your usual 'serious' Holocaust-related films. Finally, it was announced that the release has been pushed back to this year and it's bound to be a disaster.

Saw this last night and I must say, that it's not as bad as it looks and it's actually a little entertaining. But while it is enjoyable, this historical comedy-drama is a hit-and-miss in its punchlines and tender moments. It started a bit off with its humor but eventually hits some of the right punches in the second half to the end. Dramatically and historically, it does not leave a huge impact as the film is bombarded with funny skits, it's a little hard to take the film seriously. There are some sentimental moments that are really touching but while it's at it and the buildup is great, it finds its way in cheesy and cringe-worthy scenes that its impact becomes not as great as its potential.

George Clooney's attempt of making the subject matter light is fair and dignified, but most of the time, he misses the right calibrate. I could honestly say that George Clooney is not that good of a joker. He also included a number of unnecessary and forced scenes, one being a jab at Russia, and it's possibly the reason why it's considered a drag by some.

Having said these, this film is perked up by its charismatic ensemble. With a group of George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban and Hugh Bonneville as 'The Monuments Men', it can never go wrong that even with the bad script, their charisma makes up for its shortcomings. It's also good to see the current leading Oscar Best Actress nominee Cate Blanchett attack an entirely different role than her Jeanette/Jasmine in Blue Jasmine.

The Monuments Men
could be my The Great Gatsby this year wherein critics find it distasteful while I find it fine and enjoyable. I could also see some of its aspects to be very competent and should be recognized come awards season -- like its fun, lively and sometimes poignant score by Alexandre Desplat and its production design that aptly encapsulates its time setting. Overall, I learned some from this but it could have been better.