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When I say that the new star-studded WWII movie The Monuments Men is disappointing, that doesn't actually mean bad.  But this should have been a whole lot better.

This is a story we've not seen before and that always gets high points with me.  It is based on the true story of a band of men near the end of WWII in Europe who are sent in to recover Nazi stolen art and religious artifacts, of which there were millions.   What were the Nazi's going to do with all of this wealth and heritage?   There were about 300 real Monuments Men then, but in our movie adaptation we have 7.

This stars George Clooney (also writes and directs), Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Cate Blanchette and others.  A huge roll call, that is cast into a script that is without soul, and any real clear direction. And that is too darn bad.  This is not new for a Clooney directed movie.  I so prefer when Clooney is simply a movie star and not the "smartest guy in the room " director.  This movie tries so hard to be this clean, above the fray, non-violent, thinking man's movie, and it misses the mark badly in same regards.   It never really gets into a great flow, and always stops short of any real drama.

In their defense, it is hard to make trying to recovering lost art exciting on screen, I get it. If the task is too hard, fine. Lets just have this be a terrific documentary on PBS.  But you have to let your movie have some teeth, and have some ugliness to it.  It was behind enemy lines in WWII, things were ugly, and no one here really gets dirty hands.  They also have a tough time developing any of the characters involved, and that really does slow this thing down.


The performances are fine, but that's it.  Simply fine.  Cate Blanchette again is sensational as an uptight French woman who is an art curator helping the Men in their search to find the art.  She is really hitting her stride as an actress, as she will probably win an Oscar this year for Blue Jasmine.  Funny, with all this male firepower in this movie, she is easily the best thing in it.  Again, when you toss this many big names into a movie many times there is simply not enough movie to go around. And that happens here.  

This is not a bad movie, and not a wasted night out either.  The sets are great, the costumes are great, and it is fun to see all these stars in one place making one movie.  The problem is a weak script and a movie that really has no climax, and no sense of drama pushing to the finish line. 

The Monuments Men.   Instead of looking at the screen, you may be checking the time on your phone.