After reading the book, I looked forward to the film but with some apprehension. I was not sure how Hollywood would treat this subject. This past Friday I checked out the reviews and they were almost universally horrible. I decided I should still see it last night. Honestly, I was surprised! I enjoyed the film. History stayed modestly close to the book despite the name changes and there were some great moments. It also kept focused on the artwork they were hunting down. It is not a perfect film and there are some points with which I agree with the critics. There could have been some more character development and a little more time spent rounding the team up. However, I can see where Clooney might want the bulk of the movie to be about the artwork stolen by the Nazis. All in all I find it doesn’t deserve the harsh criticism it has gotten.
Why has it been panned by so many critics? Before seeing the film I suspected it was because they strayed too far from historical fact. Now I believe it is because they were expecting a war time drama similar to Saving Private Ryan or Platoon. The problem is that is not the story the are trying to tell and this is not Vietnam. Many war films now focus on the disillusionment of the soldiers and the confusion of war. In Monuments Men you do not see the cynicism of post-Vietnam America. There is no confusion about why they are there and they believe in their mission. The Monuments Men were good men who felt it was their duty to protect cultural achievements of the western world. In Hitler and the Nazis you have the embodiment of evil. There is no gray area and no confusion, it is good versus unadulterated evil. I think this is why many of the critics judged it so harshly