Overlord is definitely an interesting take on World War II’s most iconic moment, which is the D-Day invasion of France by the Allied Forces looking to kick Hitler’s Nazi Party’s ass. It manages to blend a WWII movie with supernatural elements, making it feel like a blend of Saving Private Ryan and the Wolfenstein video game franchise. While its brutal action is a beautiful concoction of blood and guts, a few of its slower moments bring down its overall awesome factor, making it much less entertaining than it could be.
You can check out my full review below in video form, or you can read its script.
Hey now fans of punching Nazis, and yes that’s still ok to do, Matt Heywood here to review the crazy move genre mashup film Overlord.
There’s no doubt about it, Overlord is a different type of World War II film, which mostly works outside of a poorly written lead character, and a sometimes meandering middle act. It somehow manages to blend the brutality of the second World War with the supernatural, making in one part Saving Private Ryan, and one part Wolfenstein.
It doesn’t shy away from violence either, which it embraces gortastically throughout. I’m talking brilliant levels of WWII-style gore, complete with grenades in Nazi mouthes, and one scene that is so brutal I legitimately almost threw up in my mouth while envisioning how terrible it’d feel to be experiencing what I was watching.
In all honesty, Overlord shines thanks to its level of blood and guts. Its first act in particular — which remains mostly set in reality as the lead characters are flown into German occupied France on the eve of D-Day to take out a Nazi radio tower — is its most emotionally brutal act. This is because the film still feels like a straight up WWII movie, albeit on violence steroids, so you still get those awful feelings as you watch young Americans die as they fight back Nazi forces.
This act also has the best ever WWII paratrooper jump D-Day jump scene I’ve ever seen thanks to how it was filmed. When the lead character Boyce, who is played by Jovan Adepo, jumps from his burning plane the camera zooms in to provide both up close third person shots, as well as first person shots, which when combined make it feel as if you’re falling through the same hell and flak that the character was falling through. It provided what I consider to be the best view at what it may have looked and felt like when the brave US paratroopers had to jump out of their planes while Nazi forces were blasting them out of the sky by the dozens.
Overlord’s first act is definitely one of the best and most enthralling intros to a WWII movie I’ve seen, but its momentum gets slowed mightily by the second half. I chalk this up to the fact that this act is used to further flesh out the main characters, while also setting up the supernatural aspects of the film’s plot. The problem though, is that the main characters are a bit flawed, especially the two leads, which prevents the middle act from flowing as brilliantly as the first.
I legitimately hated the lead character Boyce. It had nothing to do with Adepo’s performance, he does a great job, rather it has everything to do with how his character was written. Boyce plays a pacifist of sorts, who can’t even kill a mouse, literally, it’s brought up to highlight how he doesn’t like armed conflict. The problem is, is that he starts to feel disingenuous, because he’s so ridiculous with his stance on violence against Nazis. He plays the “if they go low, we go high” card, which is fantastic for 2018 and American politics. But when it comes to WWII and Hitler’s Nazis, I have a hard time watching a soldier have issues with torturing them, disobeying orders in favor of helping the few over the many, and just being a bit too sensitive.
The best way to describe who Boyce is like is to compare him to Corporal Upham from Saving Private Ryan, you know, the soldier in Tom Hanks’ squad who could kill Nazis, which in turn led to them killing most of his squad. I just had a hard time buying Boyce’s stance on violence towards Nazis, and his squad’s mission, and felt that the film would have been 1000 times better if the writer just avoided making Boyce overly sensitive in a war against some of the most vile humans to ever walk this earth. A WWII film is not the film to question if brutality against Nazis is ok or not, and this Boyce character unfortunately wants you to seriously think about that.
Due to the lead character mostly sucking as a character for a whole act of Overkill, it does lose some of its luster, and one of the other leads isn’t great either. However, in this circumstance it’s a casting issue, and now a character issue. I just had a hard time buying into Wyatt Russell as a gritty, chiseled soldier who will do whatever it takes to get the job done. Again, it just didn’t feel like Russell was delivering on that type of character. He just doesn’t put off a macho man vibe, which sorta tarnishes a few scenes in which he’s trying to be a hard as nails squad leader.
Character issues aside though, things get back on track for the action packed final act, which cooks up all sorts of creative ways to graphically kill Nazis, and the supernatural experiments they’ve been working on. Speaking of which, I would’ve preferred a bit more exposition on what the Nazis found in the earth that they were processing through French captives to make super soldier serum, but that thread is mostly glossed over in favor of action, so you just kind of have to take the few things the plot gives you on the goo and accept that your watching a movie that has Nazi zombies in it.
Overlord starts very strong, gets a bit annoying in the middle, but closes out on a high note to make it a curiously entertaining film to watch. If it didn’t have the character issues I highlighted, it could very well be one of the best non-sensical takes on WWII ever created. The action and violence are exquisite, and the story is mostly intriguing and mysterious. It’s just hard to get fully invested into a movie when you kind of hate the main character because he goes out of his way to be a righteous man in a war being fought against the most horrendous humans to ever grace this planet.
With that being said, Overlord still earns a respectable 7.5 out of 10 review score from Team EB. It’s well worth a trip to the theater just to experience the opening act on a big screen with booming sound. Plus, watching Nazis and Nazi zombies get brutally wasted is never a bad time, so be a Patriot and support this different type of WWII thriller.
Thanks for watching, Matt Heywood signing off for EntertainmentBuddha.com, where we make you a better geek, one post at a time.
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