Second World War caper movie THE MONUMENTS MEN (12: Twentieth Century Fox) didn’t need to be a work of art.
But the remarkable true story of seven experts in masterpieces, who are assembled into a military platoon and given an unusual mission, proves to be a monumental disappointment.
The Allied treasure-hunters are sent into occupied Europe to recover priceless paintings and sculptures that have fallen into Nazi hands and ensure the artworks survive the conflict.
Co-writer George Clooney stars as the avuncular team leader and directs the film, but the precision shown in Good Night, And Good Luck deserts him here.
Respectfully dry faithfulness to the facts prevents rip-roaring entertainment and a terrific cast of John Goodman, Bill Murray and Hugh Bonneville is underused.
A token romantic subplot involving family man Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett’s amorous curator fizzles out and the movie plods from leadenly comic moments to jarringly serious interludes.
> Nick Frost plays the romantic lead in good-natured comedy CUBAN FURY (15: Studio Canal) and manages to shake off the claim that he and Simon Pegg are joined at the hip. A boy’s dream of being a champion salsa dancer is shattered by bullies. He returns to the floor after years in a dead-end job, but the overweight and under-confident adult quickly finds himself in over his head as he tries to get his old footwork back.
The idea of Frost trying to pull Latin moves isn’t played for laughs, as in Pegg’s Run Fatboy Run, and this is a wasted opportunity.
Instead, we’re led to believe that he might actually win a contest and sweep his boss (Rashida Jones) off her feet.
It’s a hard premise to buy into, although there’s plenty of rib-tickling banter between Frost and his co-stars, who include Ian McShane as his mentor, Chris O’Dowd as a greasy love rival and Kayvan Novak as a flamboyant fellow dancer.
> Crime thriller OUT OF THE FURNACE (15: Lionsgate) is worth seeing just for Christian Bale’s exceptional turn.
Set in a Pennsylvania steel town, family loyalty counts for everything when dire economic straits send two brothers down dangerous pathways.
Bale, who doesn’t just play his part, he seems to live it, is a decent man running out of options when his volatile Iraq-vet sibling (Casey Affleck) gets in too deep with a loan shark (Willem Dafoe), who himself is in thrall to Appalachian psycho (Woody Harrelson).
The downbeat 1970s Hollywood tone, with strong echoes of The Deer Hunter plus a dash of Deliverance, is a clear sign that the simmering tension will boil over at some point.
Although a bare-knuckle boxing subplot is gratuitously unpleasant, the full-on performances keep this film watchable.
> Zac Efron headlines lightweight comedy ‘bromance’ THAT AWKWARD MOMENT (15: Entertainment In Video), in which three New York friends are at critical junctures in their love lives.
When Mikey’s wife has an affair with her lawyer, Jason and Daniel vow to stay “seriously single” in sympathy. But the trio’s plans for non-commital sex with a whole roster of girls is thwarted by the start of real new relationships.
Corny and contrived, at least there’s genuine charisma between the leads.