Updated: Jun 19, 2019
Being it’s last week in the cinema, I really wanted to make time to watch J. J. Abrams newest feature, Overlord. With hours until the historical D-Day, this story centres around four surviving soldiers on a mission to destroy a radio tower, located above a highly guarded church in France. With the objective of allowing air support to assist allies in Normandy, the mission is the top priority, but when the characters stumble upon an underground Nazi lab containing grotesque experiments, things take an unexpected turn.
Ooo how dramatic. That intro got tense didn’t it. Lets bring it down a tone.
Hi, it’s Elise, sorry I haven’t posted in a while, but let’s get right back into it.
This film is bloody good. This film is also just bloody. But we’ll get to that later. The first thing to applaud here is the consistency between the trailer and the film in terms of tone and content. It’s not very often that a trailer perfectly depicts a movie without completely giving it away. Basically, if you like the look of the trailer (link at the bottom) then you’ll definitely like the final feature.
Director Julius Avery makes a statement with this war, horror, sci-fi hybrid. The cast are made up of distinctly good actors that are also low key enough to contribute to authenticity. The opening scene is phenomenal and definitely the best bit, so make sure you don’t get to the cinema late. Starting on a plane in the middle of a war zone, our primary characters are introduced in a claustrophobic enviroment which very quickly encounters a chaos that shows no mercy to the men on board. The length of the shots are impressive and add to the building tension. In a recent interview, Avery revealed that the lengthy shots were used to create a sense of first person involvement. He wanted to make the audience feel everything the characters were feeling in that moment, and the only way to do that was to submerge them.
Wyatt Russel explained “when you see people flying across the wall and there’s bodies blowing up, bullets are flying [...] that’s all real.” The imagery and special effects definitely kept the audience holding their breath. Weirdly, when Boyce, played by Jovan Adepo, jumped out of the plane, I could almost feel the change in temperature. Also I sensed a subtle use of foreshadowing when Boyce burst through the water into the parchute, be that intentional or not. The first 10 minutes alone are worth paying to see.
Given the historical context, the story didn’t need to spend too much time setting the scene or establishing the enemy. I think we can all agree Nazi’s are bad. Next. The audience have a pre-existing sense of how urgent this mission is. The stakes are high, and this adds a palpable tension which I also think helped give this story pace. I often find war movies drag on where they focus too much on recreating reality.
However thats where the importance of context should end. I have seen online reviews of Overlord complaining that it was historically incorrect. No s***. It’s about Nazi zombies. It’s a fantasy renovation of the war, not a retelling of real events.
That being said, I do feel as though Overlord sees itself as a war film primarily and a sci fi second. It’s almost as though it only wants to dip a toe into the fantasy genre. I’ll admit there wasn’t as many ‘zombie’ conflicts or zombies at all, as I thought there was going to be. To some this might be a criticism but to be honest, I think it worked better. The lab experiments under the church are horrifying in a very human way. The film doesn’t ask too much of the audience, considering that the nazi’s really did undertake sadistic experiments during WW2, I don’t think this concept is completely unbelievable.
Also, I was really impressed with the puppetry, costume and make up that went into the most shocking scenes of this film. Whilst Overlord is most certainly not for the squeamish or faint hearted, I don’t think it depended on gore and jump scares.
This isn’t a perfect film by any means. I found it to be a bit happy-go-lucky in the way characters were running around in a heavily guarded lab and Nazi hideout with minimal trouble. Furthermore, the squads of Nazi’s apparently had 100% worse firearm accuracy than the two Americans holding them off. But hey, thats Hollywood. There were plenty more scenes that captivated me, so I think I can forgive the characters’ sometimes questionable good fortune.
Overall, I really enjoyed Overlord, I think Julius Avery had a vision and he executed it confidently. Given the run time was 1 hour 48 minutes, this movie had good pace, believable characters, fun action sequences and a heavy sprinkling of gore and horror. War films are often a hit or miss and for me this one was a hit.
Link to the trailer is below as usual. Make sure you go see Overlord while it’s still in cinemas!
Thanks for reading,