Monuments Men

First Hit:  Disappointing execution of what was probably a marvelous story.

The cast was stellar. The story was probably interesting. However the result was a disjointed, lackluster, and mediocre film. When you have; George Clooney (as Frank Stokes), Matt Damon (as James Granger), Bill Murray (as Richard Campbell), Cate Blanchett (as Claire Simone), John Goodman (as Walter Garfield), Jean Dujardin (as Jean Claude Clermont), Hugh Bonneville (as Donald Jefferies), and Bob Balaban (as Preston Savitz) there is an anticipation, if not expectation, of seeing a great film and story.

What hurt this story was that it seemed like a bunch of vignettes strung together to meet the end result of the story. Some of these side stories had me scratching my head and wondering why they were there, one such side piece was the dental work piece featuring Murray and Balaban. Couldn’t understand why it was important to show this.

Then there were the cutaway scenes following Damon when he first came to France, while riding in a cart - what was the point of showing these without some conclusion or reasoning? These are just a couple of moments in this film that just seemed to be there for no real reason or point. There were also awkwardly shot moments, like when Bonneville makes an attempt to kill a German, the whole scene was poorly conceived and executed.

This scene seemed like an afterthought. However, there were also touching moments, like when Damon and Blanchett were having dinner, or when Bonneville gives his thanks for a chance to prove his worth after his alcoholic ways.

Clooney as an actor here was OK, but his direction and screenplay contributions seemed lightweight or maybe he didn’t take this seriously enough. Damon was good, as always, but there wasn’t enough meat in the part to have him give a great performance. Murray appeared to be trying to make something out of nothing and when the audience sees this – it is disappointing. Blanchett was one of the best in her role as a mistrusting woman who finally believes the motive of the US forces. Goodman was OK, nothing special. Dujardin was somewhat interesting as he brought some European flair to the film. Bonneville was nothing special in a minimal role. Balaban seemed to capture the screen when he was in a scene which says something about his strong skills. Clooney and Grant Heslov wrote this screenplay and it seems that they were unclear about direction as was Clooney as director.

Overall:  This film was better as an idea than its execution. I left the theater disappointed.