I’m a huge fan of movies that choose to focus on smaller aspects of major events that otherwise may just get lost in the shuffle of the bigger picture. This is something often seen in war films, especially when it comes to World War II, as there was just so much happening on so many different levels that can be covered in unique ways. Overlord does just that, taking the topic of the Nazis running science experiments on human test subjects and bringing it to the world of horror fiction.
Right out of the gate it must be noted that Overlord is a visually stunning movie. The opening sequence that sees the Allies moving towards the shoreline on the eve of D-Day is handled to perfection, showcasing the epic scope of the attack, while also keeping the focus purely on the soldiers within the plane that carries the films protagonist. The suspense is handled wonderfully, the direction, the editing, the lighting…everything about this opening sequence lets you know you’re in for one hell of a ride moving forward.
The story centers around Boyce (Jovan Adepo), a reluctant soldier who was drafted into the war three months prior who wears his heart on his shoulder, which isn’t always the best thing when it comes to having a mission to complete yet finding yourself constantly surrounded by moral dilemmas. Luckily for the mission, an explosives specialist, Corporal Ford (Wyatt Russell) also survives the crash to help keep Boyce and his fellow paratroopers Tibbet (John Magaro), Chase (Iain De Caestecker) and Dawson (Jacob Anderson) in check and on point to finish the directive they were sent there to complete. That mission? To take down a German radio tower that resides on the top of a fortified church. Oh, and doing so is crucial to the success of the entire Allied invasion.
While en route to the church, the team cross paths with a French woman named Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier) who agrees to give them shelter in her home, which is in a village not far from the church, while they decide on the best course of action as to how to bring the radio tower down now that they’re both outgunned and outmanned. It’s there that the soldiers learn of SS Captain Wafner (Pilou Asbæk), and how he comes through Chloe’s village, taking people at random from their homes and bringing them to the church, often never returning home again.
Now, up until this point Overlord is going the normal war movie route, but it’s the Nazi experimenting and horror elements that crank this movie up a notch. It helps that Director Julius Avery creates a fantastic atmosphere right out of the gate, and as the film progresses, the world just gets darker and grittier. It’d be easy for a movie like this to get silly once undead zombie elements begin coming into play; however, Avery keeps the tone as serious and based in reality as he can while also never holding back on giving audiences what they came to see, and that’s some intense, genetically-modified super soldier action.
It also helps that everyone involved delivers great performances on the acting front. If you don’t care about the characters that are built up early on, then the impact of the final half of the film is taken away. If this was cast as a cheesy, B-movie about zombies attacking soldiers in Nazi Germany then that’s exactly the feel the movie would’ve had throughout and there’d be no need to have any emotional investment in the story or characters whatsoever. Fortunately, Adepo, Russell, Olliver, Asbæk and everyone else treat this like the intense, dramatic, realistic war film that it’s meant to be – except with an undead twist that shakes things up in all the right ways midway through.
Overlord is a unique, action-packed thrill-ride that never lets up. Instead of going completely over-the-top and settling for less, top tier acting, and strong direction help keep the story grounded while also delivering on the suspense and horror, giving audiences the best of both worlds with plenty of intense violence and scares, as well as characters we care about. Overlord is exactly the type of fresh take on tried and true stories that I’m always happy to see when handled properly. If you’re looking for a bloody good time, then look no further than Overlord.
Overlord looks superb on both 4K and Blu-ray. If you’re able to get 4K then it’s a no-brainer for this movie, as it has such great atmosphere, and the opening sequence is phenomenally shot, that enjoying it in the best possible visual transfer is the way to go. The special effects don’t lose any luster in such high definition either, as everything really stands out as though it’s happening to the characters on-screen, without any digital traces to distract. The Blu-ray transfer is also incredibly strong, so if you’ve yet to upgrade, then fear not, as you’ll find the film just as enjoyable on either format.
The sound transfer, audio mix, score and dialogue are all beautifully handled as well. Sound is incredibly important to all films, but there’s something about audio being handled properly in a war film that can make things even more intense or suspenseful as you wait for that possible sniper shot to be fired, or bomb to go off.
Creation – This feature is 11-minutes in length and talks about the films thematic elements, Avery behind the camera, the script by Billy Ray as well as casting, set design and military training. It’s basically the Overlord starter-kit for production!
Death Above – This feature is just over seven minutes in length and focuses on the film’s amazing opening scene that I just can’t get enough of.
Death on the Ground – This feature is just over nine-minutes in length focuses more on the bad guy’s in the movie, as well as Ollivier’s character, the prosthetics and the overall tone that starts the movie off right.
Death Below – This feature is almost six and a half minutes in length and focuses on the undead twist that takes the film out of the usual World War II genre and into a more horror/sci-fi scenario.
Death No More – This feature is just over 12-minutes in length and talks about creature effects, why they chose to use practical effects whenever possible, and the designs of the creatures in the film.
Brothers in Arms – This five minute featurette sees the cast and crew throw love and admiration in the direction of Avery and J.J. Abrams.
Paramount Pictures Presents Overlord. Directed by: Julius Avery. Written by: Billy Ray, Mark L. Smith. Starring: Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier, Pilou Asbæk, Iain De Caestecker, John Magaro, Jacob Anderson, Dominic Applewhite. Running time: 110 Minutes. Rating: 18A. Released on Blu-ray: Feb. 19, 2019.
Tags: Jovan Adepo, Mathilde Ollivier, Overlord, Wyatt Russell