Many took issue with the plotline of Clooney-directed World War II-era piece. And while most agreed in the importance of telling the story of how famed works of arts were saved from destruction, a majority of critics weren't pleased with the manner in which it was told. There were, however, a few film buffs who were blown away by the period piece.
"A genial disappointment about the preciousness of art amid the destructive horrors of war, The Monuments Men is scored to a military march by composer Alexandre Desplat. You hear what he was going for: jaunty heroics," writes Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune. "The throwback sound of it suggests the director, co-writer and star George Clooney sat down with Desplat, gave him a smile and said: 'Gimme some of that Elmer Bernstein Great Escape magic, Al.'"
"Earnest and well-intentioned but ultimately inert, The Monuments Men talks a better game than it can deliver," says Kenneth Turan of the L.A. Times. "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."
The Monuments Men" occasionally makes an eloquent case for the value—beyond dollars, that is—of great art," says Rafer Guzman in Newsday. "Somehow, though, it lacks the spark that could have made it live and breathe."
The Monuments Men, a film that George Clooney co-wrote, directed and stars in, continues his long-standing—even heroic—effort to preserve a certain kind of movie in the American filmmaking canon. From the films he's directed (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Good Night, and Good Luck, Leatherheads, The Ides of March) to many he's starred in, Clooney has evinced a fealty to the classical, even old-fashioned kind of film that, we're so often depressingly reminded, Hollywood doesn't make anymore," says Ann Hornaday in the Washington Post.
"With looted art still turning up in Germany every year, the search continues, so the movie could not be more relevant. At a time crowded with moronic action flicks, pointless remakes and animated juvenilia, it's a genuine pleasure to experience a mature film about something that changed the world," writes Rex Reed in the New York Observer. "Staging so many vignettes over such a protracted period of time frames with such a large cast in such a variety of countries, a disconnected sense of 'wait a minute, what's going on here?' is inevitable. But The Monuments Men is still one hell of a monumental motion picture."
"It can be nice to spend time with these actors even when you don't believe their characters for a single second, and there's no denying this movie's easy pleasures, including the guaranteed satisfaction that comes in watching, yet again, the Nazis go down in defeat. Yet because Mr. Clooney can't figure out what kind of story this is, he too often slips into pandering mode, including in his own performance, which is filled with too many smiles and speeches," concludes Manohla Dargis in the New York Times.