George Clooney steps back into the Director’s chair to bring to life the true story of seven incredible men in World War II, who are tasked by President Roosevelt to acquire the artwork that Nazi Germany was seizing as their own.  These MONUMENTS MEN traded their artistic careers for becoming soldiers to save the world’s Masterpieces for future generations.

As we meet Frank Stokes (George Clooney), he is pleading with our federal government to allow him, and a platoon of his own making, to enter Germany at the end of WWII.  This “Band of Artistic Brothers “ are on a mission to save the hundreds, if not thousands of original works of art that Hitler has been stock piling for himself.

Stokes knows that this assignment isn’t going to be easy – and that he and the others may not make it out alive – but his love to retain the culture and significance that these works of art hold for all of us,  seems to make this mission undeniably important in his mind.

Stokes rallies together seven art experts and manages to convince them that heading to War is a lot more exciting than there mundane lives stateside.  He brings together Americans James Granger (Matt Damon), Richard Campbell (Bill Murray), Walter Garfield (John Goodman), Preston Savitz (Bob Balaban), an Italian ally Jean Claude Clermont (Jean Dujardin – of THE ARTIST fame), and an English ally Donald Jeffries (Hugh Bonneville).

Once in place in Europe, Granger heads off to Paris in an attempt to locate the person who may be chronicling all of the stolen art, Claire Simone (Cate Blanchett).  Claire doesn’t trust anyone, especially Granger, and surely doesn’t believe that he, as an American, wants to save these artifacts from Hitler.

While Granger is working in Paris, Stokes and the rest of the men split up, trying to locate American military camps, to secure supplies and transportation.  The American military leaders think that they have all lost their minds, as they are trying to dictate what the military can and cannot BLOW UP, in order to save some of artistic buildings, and the beautiful work housed within, for future generations to experience.

Will Stokes and his men find the stolen artifacts, or will Hitler destroy them all before they locate them?  Will Claire become a friend or foe in helping these brave men complete their mission? And will all seven of the men make it out of this mission alive, or perish as they try to save the original works of the Great Masters?

I give MONUMENTS MEN an A+:  This film had me from the very first scene!  I love films based on true stories, and a film based on the lives of seven incredible men sparked my attention immediately after seeing the first trailer a month ago.  I loved how this film was so reminiscent of old war movies that I watched for hours with my Dad – from the camera angles used, to the barracks they stayed in, even down to the incredible music that played throughout the film, it is as if you are traveling back in time, and are experiencing World War II right along  side these brave men.  I also was pleasantly surprised to see all of these superb actors give fantastic performances on screen, as it seemed they were all cast in exactly the right role for each of them to play.  The casting agent should get kudos for this film, as sometimes when that many stars are playing in one film, it tends to be less than enjoyable.  Clooney also deserves praise in directing this film, as it absolutely flowed and played out perfectly.

Whether you love war movies, or study art history, or you are in love with Matt Damon and try to see every one of his films, or you are just bored and want to go see a good flic – you must see Monuments Men this weekend at a theater near you  – THAT’S AN ORDER! Just kidding…….

Kathy Kaiser

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