The Monuments Men (Blu-ray)

May 14, 2014 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

War is hell. That’s a given. So when I saw the trailer (in a movie theater of all places – a place I really don’t frequent that much anymore) for The Monuments Men, I was rather intrigued.  Of course seeing the familiar duo of George Clooney and Matt Damon enticed audiences and I’m sure that they hoped the movie would have profited more than it did.  Still, it got me to thinking of all the things lost in a war. Like fire to a house, you simply don’t realize what you lose until it’s gone.  Now I won’t downplay the importance of what these “Monuments Men” did, but I certainly wouldn’t take a bullet for a Picasso. But there are those that would (and did).  At any rate, I’m getting a bit distracted.  Let’s get down to basics – we’ve got George Clooney in front of and behind the camera, Matt Damon, Bill Murray and Cate Blanchett among others. It’s a “light-hearted” World War II movie.  Let’s canvass the plot, shall we?

Frank Stokes (George Clooney) is passionate about art. During World War II, the Nazis were stockpiling countless pieces of priceless art and sculptures to populate their own museum.  Stokes has petitioned the President of the United States to form a special task force to find where the Nazis have hidden this art and return them to their rightful owners.  There’s only one problem: it’s war and there will be risk.  Stokes gathers a ragtag group of historians and connoisseurs of art and they head to basic training.  Among them are James Granger (Matt Damon), Richard Campbell (Bill Murray) and Walter Garfield (John Goodman).  There’s also the backstory of Claire Simone (Cate Blanchett), an assistant to a high-ranking German official whose brother just so happens to be in the resistance.  Claire is imprisoned and then “freed” by Granger. And, wouldn’t you know it, Claire just so happens to have a wealth of information pertaining to the missing art.

I wanted to like The Monuments Men and I’ll say right now that my review is somewhat disjointed and all over the place – so was the movie.  I don’t know, I just kept thinking of Ocean’s Eleven when I see Clooney and Damon on the screen together.  It’s a rather light-hearted look at the war, but a few of the major characters do die to show that it’s somewhat serious.  As I mentioned above, I’m not the biggest fan of art and I certainly wouldn’t risk my life to save a painting. I’m not downplaying the importance of art in the least, but it’s evidently important to the right folks.  The ensemble cast does a fine job, they’re all seasoned professionals who seemed to be going through the motions here.  On a side note, I saw that the movie was rated PG-13 and I just had to comment on this…is it me or are these ratings becoming just a little too detailed?  The rating is for “some disturbing war images and historical smoking.” Yes, historical smoking!  Give me a break.  If you want to watch Clooney and Damon steal some stuff, watch any one of the Ocean’s films. I’d skip this one.

Video: How’s it look?

Presented in a 2.40:1 AVC HD image, The Monuments Men looks just as good as we’d expect it to. I found some of the scenes a bit on the soft side and I actually had to re-watch a scene due to some grain. I suppose it’s not out of the question, but I’d assume that a “George Clooney” movie coming from Sony would look top notch. Still, I didn’t let that little tidbit affect the scores too much.  Flesh tones look a bit on the muted side, detail is amazing as expected and black levels seem solid. It’s a good-looking picture, but not quite up to the standard that Sony’s set with their new to Blu-ray releases.

Audio: How’s it sound?

If you’ve ever seen Saving Private Ryan then you’ll know how amazingly good a war movie can sound.  Well we now have The Monuments Men which doesn’t hold a candle to the aforementioned title, but that’s not to say that it sounds bad in the least. The DTS HD Master Audio track is a bit on the subdued side though vocals sound strong and solid. Clooney’s deep, calm voice seems to resonate through the center channel.  Surrounds are used on occasion and there are a few “battle” scenes that engage the LFE as well.  It’s a nice, steady mix throughout with some playful parts sprinkled in between.  A nice job.

Supplements: What are the extras?

While not bursting at the seams with supplements, there’s a fair amount here with some exclusives to the Blu-ray.

DVD Extras

  • George Clooney’s Mission – An interview with Clooney and fellow cohort Grant Hestov (a frequent collaborator with Clooney) and their desire to get the movie made. Clooney co-wrote the script with Hestov.
  • Marshalling the Troops – A “roll call” of the ensemble cast with bits from Goodman, Damon and others about the film. On a side note, there’s a pretty blatant spelling error on the title screen of this feature as it says “Marshaling the Troops” whereas everywhere else (back of the Blu-ray, slipcover and the menus) it’s listed as “Marshalling the Troops.” Not a huge deal, but my wife’s sharp eyes caught this one.

Blu-ray Exclusives

  • Deleted Scenes – A series of scenes cut from the final cut. None were really that intriguing.
  • In Their Own Words – We get some “real life” stories from a few of the real Monuments Men.
  • A Woman Amongst the Monuments Men – As the only female in the cast, we get an interview with two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett and her role in the film.
  • DVD/UltraViolet Copy

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