‘The Monuments Men’ Reviews: Critics Bomb George Clooney's World War II Movie

'The Monuments Men' Reviews: Critics Bomb George Clooney's World War II Movie

Many fault the film for being either a bit too boring, a bit too light, and a bit unbalanced

George Clooney's fifth directorial effort may boast an impressive cast, but unfortunately, the film isn't impressing critics.

The World War II drama about an unlikely platoon consisting of seven art historians tasked with rescuing artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves has a 31 percent “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Out of 112 reviews counted, so far, “The Monuments Men” was bombarded by 77.

Also read: George Clooney's Nazi Problem in ‘Monuments Men': It’s Hard to Have Fun With Hitler

TheWrap‘s Alonso Duralde thought the film's all-star cast — Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Bob Balaban and  Jean Dujardin — “nails the period flavor,” but Clooney and co-writer Grant Heslov's screenplay could have been constructed a bit better.

“The notion of architects, sculptors and academics sent to basic training and unleashed upon the theater of war promises to deliver both comedy and action, but Clooney never strikes the storytelling balance that the material deserves,” Duralde wrote in his review. “At times, the film drags, while at others, it rushes through essential character and story elements.”

See video: George Clooney Pranks Tina Fey, Amy Poehler – and Matt Damon – With One Faux Letter

Miami Herald critic Rene Rodriguez gave the film with “a few good moments” two stars after boiling the 1-hour-and-52-minute movie down to boring.

“George Clooney takes a wild, stranger-than-fiction true story and turns it into a dull, prestigious slog,” Rodriguez wrote. “Although he seems to favor a classical, old-school approach to narrative, he’s not much for generating suspense and excitement, two things this movie badly needs.”

New York Times critic Manohla Dargis thinks the “sliver of a great World War II story” will be enjoyable to audiences that “don't want to think too hard,” but given the real-life art-experts-turned-soldiers that the film is based on, that's not necessarily a good thing.

“If there’s anyone who you expect to smarten up a joint, it’s Mr. Clooney. The brain trust behind the original Monuments Men was staggering and included individuals who helped run some of America’s greatest cultural institutions,” Dargis wrote. “At the very least you expect their fictional counterparts to exchange a little shoptalk and some thoughts on art, literature and the latest restoration techniques or maybe just gossip about Picasso’s latest mistress.”

Also read: George Clooney on Oscar Whisper Campaigns, Writing a ‘Gravity’ Scene and Spielberg's Reaction to the Movie (Exclusive)

Clooney told TheWrap last year that he was struggling with the tone of the film, which has both comedic and dramatic elements. According to Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan, the struggle that Clooney described as “a bit of a dance” is on full display in the final cut.

“Earnest and well-intentioned but ultimately inert, ”The Monuments Men” talks a better game than it can deliver,” Turan wrote. “Inspired by true tales of World War II derring-do, it can't decide what kind of a film it wants to be and so ends up failing across a fairly wide spectrum.”

Not everyone took issue with the war movie's shortcomings, however. San Francisco Chronicle critic Mick LaSalle enjoyed the “happy yet serious” mood Clooney conveyed throughout the “mostly jolly adventure in which people get killed.”

“‘The Monuments Men’ is an old-fashioned World War II movie, of a kind Hollywood used to churn out 50 years ago, back when the war was still a fairly recent memory,” LaSalle wrote. “The movie has a certain gallantry and a spring in its step that's retro, appealing and ever-so-slightly phony.”

Rolling Stone‘s Peter Travers was also among the minority of critics that found the “relatively bloodless” war epic to be an overall enjoyable — and even “addictive” — adventure behind enemy lines.

“The work of the Monuments Men is fresh territory for film, and Clooney builds the story with intriguing detail and scope,” Travers wrote. “What Clooney has crafted in ‘The Monuments Men' is a movie about aspiration, about culture at risk, about things worth fighting for. I'd call that timely and well worth a salute.”

  • les342

    This just makes me want to see it even more, since I generally thing film critics are full of it.

  • Jamie

    This makes me chuckle. Isn't this the blog that declared that Clooney was the best film maker since Selznik. But even the critic here did not like the film.

    • A.L. Hern

      Selznick.

    • hupto

      You do realize that more than one person writes for this site, right?

  • dtheiss821

    It sounds like a movie that depends more on character development than overblown action. What a relief. I can't wait to see it.

    • Tiche

      If it had either one of those things it might be alright. But it doesn't. And it's not.

    • Jason Luthor

      I agree it'd be a relief, if the movie hadn't skipped character for long scenes of Clooney narrating over panning shots of Europe.

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  • Hg Wells

    Too bad the movie is getting such terrible reviews. The story of the Monuments Men itself is interesting. I am looking forward to a related book, The Noble Sculptor (website of the same name) that’s coming out. (I am on the list to hear when the book is released.) It has some story of one of the Monuments Men in Italy, but the real story there is about his adventurer father which, I think, is much more interesting.

  • johhny hagins

    It5 was refeshing true & heroic film…after watching filth evern other word; good action; & hisotry we didnt know…like Capt Phillips

  • IT IT IT

    Hollywood stepped over last year's awesomely relevant
    ————————–60th Anniversary————————–
    of the KOREAN WAR to bring us reheated tripe —-like this???!!!!

  • aspblom

    Monuments… had a FLAT, pretentious, BORING script.

  • David Lipshutz

    Just saw the movie. It was better than I expected from the reviews. The jist of their criticism is correct but overall the film still held my interest and was entertaining enough to be worth the price of a ticket. I think it helps to know about the back story and I found it funny to hear the horrible attempts at french by Matt Damon's character. I'd recommend it if you're not up for the latest vampire movie.

  • Albert Macias

    I cannot stand Clooney is an American Army uniform! He is an America Hater and leftist pig

  • Albert Macias

    Without Clooney it would be ok!