Reel Reviews: Treasure hunt is a true tale

John Goodman, left, Matt Damon, George Clooney, Bob Balaban and Bill Murray are five-sevenths of The Monuments Men. - Twentieth Century Fox
John Goodman, left, Matt Damon, George Clooney, Bob Balaban and Bill Murray are five-sevenths of The Monuments Men.
— image credit: Twentieth Century Fox

Nearing the end of the Second World War, with the retreating Nazis under orders to destroy everything as the German  Reich fell, seven men, art historians, curators and museum directors, became the unlikely soldiers responsible for rescuing as much of the stolen art as possible. They were known as “The Monuments Men.”

We say, “It’s a love letter to the Second World War ensemble cast caper movie.”

TAYLOR: I enjoyed this, but it kind of felt like I’d seen it already, perhaps several times.

HOWE: Most movies starring George Clooney and Matt Damon are enjoyable, and The Monuments Men is no different. I know what you mean about feeling like you’ve seen it several times. You have in mind things like the Oceans movies, The Dirty Dozen and The Great Escape.

TAYLOR: I do. Trumpet music with snare drums, an A-team montage feel to it, light-hearted moments between seemingly ordinary heroes becoming comrades in arms. Then you have the typical Second World War fare of, for instance, a barrel full of gold fillings to help remind us that the Nazis were awful. In the former way, it was kind of fun, but in the latter way, I was bored.

HOWE: The whole movie felt old, and what I mean is it seemed like it stepped out a ‘60s war film. Instead of having Lee Marvin in the main role you have Clooney leading the charge. The jokes don’t come thick and fast and I liked that, because if they did,  it could have spoiled it. I found myself chuckling along all the way through it. Even the music score was catchy. You wanted to whistle along to it.

TAYLOR: It did seem to have that light treatment that you and I both wanted to enjoy, but because the film also tries to pay respects to the seriousness of the subject matter, it became emotionally confusing. I think The Monuments Men suffers because of it, but not enough to warrant a failing grade. The scope of set design, the period authenticity and the historical fact displayed make it worth seeing.

HOWE: Even though to me it feels like they are paying homage to the great war movies of old, I don’t think I would want to watch this again. Whereas, seeing Steve McQueen jump the barb wire fence in The Great Escape or Sly Stallone saving a penalty in Escape to Victory is a different matter altogether.

– Taylor gives The Monuments Men 3 western civilization classes out of 5.

—  Howe gives it 3 biplanes out of 5.

The film is currently playing at the Galaxy Cinemas in Vernon.

– Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film reviewers based in Vernon, B.C. Their column, Reel Reviews, prints in The Morning Star Fridays and Sundays.

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