ImageThere are countless tales of bravery and heroism that took place during World War II and one of the more unique tales is the focus of The Monuments Men. Directed by George Clooney, the war-drama highlights the true story of a group of soldiers who were sent into Europe to save classic pieces of artwork. It’s a nice story and its good intentions could have made for a nice movie, but the end result is neither interesting nor particularly inspiring.

The year is 1943 and the German army is slowly being defeated in Europe by the Allied powers. Because of their impending defeat, the Germans are stealing and destroying famous works of art. Lieutenant Frank Stokes (George Clooney) convinces the president of the United States that it is absolutely necessary to preserve the art that is being destroyed. He is placed in charge of a unit nicknamed “The Monuments Men”, whose goal is to travel into Europe and locate the famous artwork. His group consists of a museum curator (Matt Damon), an architect (Bill Murray) and a sculptor (John Goodman) among others.

The Monuments Men has a terrific cast, so it’s a shame that they’re wasted on such a mediocre movie. Everybody in the cast gives a fine performance, but when the group splits up into small factions, there’s a feeling of wasted opportunity. The cast is separated from each other for such long periods of time that viewers will forget about many of the characters involved in the film. With everybody split up from one another and so many characters to juggle, the script by Clooney and Grant Heslov doesn’t leave any room for character development. Aside from their occupation, we learn practically nothing about these people.

There are still a number of quality moments in the film, but because of the characters’ distance from each other, practically every scene feels disjointed and doesn’t add up to a quality whole. Everything feels so disconnected from everything else that it’s very difficult to care about anything that is happening. It’s also quite repetitive; for practically the entire runtime the characters travel around Europe, looking for paintings in the most uninteresting ways. Sometimes they find some, sometimes they don’t. All of these problems contribute to the film’s poor pacing and long runtime. The film is less than two hours, but it feels like it drags on for far too long.

Clooney has proved himself as a filmmaker in the past, but his dull script and flavorless direction make The Monuments Men a less inspiring film than it should have been. A person can only listen to so many monologues about the importance of art before they want the whole affair to be over with. If it weren’t for a great cast and a fantastic score by Alexandre Desplat that harkens back to classic films of Hollywood’s past, The Monuments Men could have been a complete disaster. As it stands, it’s only a disappointment.

The Monuments Men receives 2/4