I think critics just have ridiculously unreasonable expectations towards a star spangled cast for a film that's ALSO written and directed by Clooney. Or would actually jump at a chance to bash the guy.
The Monuments Men is rich in great comedic moments, a coherent plot with character driven points as well as a rounded score of dramatic turns. However things do get a little predictable to a point of formulaic embarrassment.
I found the light-hearted 90's stylistic approach (indicated as a "stiffly nostalgic tone" by RT) juxtaposed the rather grim, dreaded nature of the WWII setting very well. It created a welcoming contrast that alternatively gave the movie a sense of identity for a 2013 production.
The acting was great but again that's to be expected considering the cast. However what really stuck out was the subplot between Damon and Blanchett. It masterfully draws a line between romance, seclusion and trust through various nuances. Without going into details I just wanted to highlight how well crafted their relationship was.
Unfortunately by comparison similar elements of the film felt diminished, Murray and Balaban's friendship, Goodman and Dujardin's comradary, Bonneville's death... hell even Clooney himself seemed a little watered down by comparison but that's kind of expected considering all the screentime was filled with humor instead and c'mon, there's more than enough charm to deliver in that respect between these guys.
So between the dated stylistic approach (Hell, it even ends in them walking into a sun set) and loads of unsolicited humor it's hard to even consider The Monuments Men a war film. Does that necessarily make it bad though? Definitely not, I found the entire experience to be quite enjoyable and I'd surely recommend it to others.
I was skeptical of RT's 95% for this movie, thinking maybe once again critics were going easy on an animated film but it is actually that amazing. It's just incredibly smart with sharp humor, a relatively original plot with great ups n' downs, twists and turns and the phenomenal animation style that brings it all together. What's best though is all the themes and motifs explored pretty much embodies everything there is about the LEGO toys and the franchise.
Also lets not forget the amazing cast of actors involved. Some of my personal favorites like Charlie Day (Always Sunny), Elizabeth Banks (Scrubs), Alison Brie (Community), Will Arnett (Arrested Development), Nick Offerman (Parks n' Rec) and the list goes on!
If there are any criticism to be had I can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe the whole toys coming to life can feel like a tired idea or the message of the film gets a little muddled (It's good to follow instructions, but then it's not?) but honestly to say such things is like trying to take down a dinosaur with a pebble.
For a very high energy film the length can takes it's toll and by the 5th "omg I'm so high" funny scene things can get a little exhausting.
Nevertheless the The Wolf is quite good, with some amazing characterizations (Mconaughey? Perfect) and pretty enticing plot points. Unfortunately when all is said and done the life of Belfort is a little too sprawling to really come together in anything very cohesive. It's definitely the dynamic gags that keep our attention which in a way can just come off gimmicky taking the whole style over substance route.
That being said the underlying theme or message appears to be that "what goes up must come down." Whether it be due to character flaws (Dicaprio), the blundering mistakes of your loved ones or having loved ones (Hill and Robbie) or the world order just coming to right itself (Denham).
In the end the poor man's path to power and inevitable fall from it can be a pretty fun watch. Granted, I'd take this over any of "The Hangover" movies for sure.
AH unfolds in a way that very few films can replicate. When character relationships are just as exciting or thrilling as its caper plot you know you've got something quite golden.
I mean Lawrence's hysterical performance is perfect, Bale's strained and complex relationship with her, Adams struggle between what is real and what isn't... Everything is written and acted with such finesse that none of the characters ever feel like a stereotype due to their varying complexities. To do all this character work AND have it come together with a cohesive, satisfying plot was really the icing on top.
If anything, the film just lacked accessibility. It's hard to root for anyone when you pass judgement on their inherent flaws and if you don't get the nuanced humor everything can seem quite dreary. A little more edge in direction style could have also helped the relatively mundane setting/genre that AH is pigeonholed in.
Like its predecessor the sequel suffers from an excess of sprawling subplots but this time around things feel a little more cohesive thanks to an established premise from the first movie.
Also where the first film suffered a middle ground between childlike and dark, TDOS has a definitive tone through and through, again making the entire production a little less scattered.
But where the real marvel lies in these movies are the beautiful cinematography, great cast of actors old and new, plus some of the best action choreography I've seen in film. This undeniable accomplishment in visual prowess really brings Tolkien's fantasy world to life. The attention payed to the lore and details truly pushes back any misgivings one may have with the overall narrative.