To put it simply, Overlord rules. This brand new J.J. Abrams-produced Nazi-zombie war-horror film is a full-throttle adrenaline rush that doesn’t let up from the moment the opening credits start to roll.
Is the movie perfect? No. It’s not even close to a perfect film, but it doesn’t have to be because it’s just pure, unadulterated fun. There are certainly some issues with the plot and a few moments of unprompted character stupidity, but most of these instances are easily forgivable because of how entertaining the movie is overall.
The story of Overlord is that of a select group of American soldiers tasked with taking down a church tower under Nazi control in France just before the Normandy invasion on D-Day. Of course, it doesn’t quite go according to plan, and the soldiers who make it to the church discover a horrible secret that they could have never imagined.
Overlord does a phenomenal job of not giving away its true intentions for quite a long time, masterfully concealing the fact that zombies eventually come into play for almost half of the movie. For that first half of the film, Overlord is just a very effective war movie, with a surprisingly intense opening scene reminiscent of the one from Saving Private Ryan, but taking place in a plane flying over France rather than a boat approaching the shore of Normandy. The movie seems to reject a few of the common stereotypes that have shown up in numerous war films throughout cinema history, the most notable of which being the sappy scene where all of the soldiers talk about who they left back at home.
One of the most impressive aspects of this movie is the almost non-existence of digital effects. Almost every effect in the entire film was done practically, and because of this, Overlord both looks and feels more realistic than it might had there been more CGI utilized during certain fight scenes. It’s not completely devoid of non-practical effects, as certain visuals would have been impossible to achieve without them, but whenever the film’s director, Julius Avery, had the opportunity to use tangible effects, he took it.
Adding to the realistic aesthetic, the makeup in this movie is stunning. There are multiple characters whose faces and bodies are mutilated due to the process through which one becomes a zombie, and the way their makeup is done makes their wounds look incredibly believable. Not only do the wounds look realistic, but they also have an odd quality to them that draws viewers attention in. Overlord’s main villain Dr. Wafner (Pilou Asbæk) is a prime example of this: While his face is disgustingly disfigured, he looks awesomely intimidating just like a good villain should. The rest of the zombie makeup was just as wonderfully creepy as the villain’s, and the movie is much more immersive because of that.
The cast of Overlord is not even close to being star-studded, but there is not a single bad performance throughout the movie. The central cast of characters consists of Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier, Asbæk, John Magaro and Iain De Caestecker, and if you don’t recognize any of those names, you aren’t the only one. While some of these actors quietly hold roles in shows like Game of Thrones or Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., they are relatively unknown, but still great in each of their roles.
The last and probably most important positive aspect of Overlord is its absolutely breakneck pacing. This film doesn’t stop to take a breath at any moment, and because of this it is consistently entertaining from start to finish. It is borderline impossible to not spend half of the runtime either grinning from ear to ear or laughing uncontrollably because of the amazing absurdity of everything that happens on screen. One moment the soldiers are parachuting out of their exploding transport plane, and in the next they’re accidentally infiltrating the massive church and discovering the secrets hidden within its walls. There’s no time to rest during Overlord, and because of the pacing, the 90-minute runtime flies by.
By no means is Overlord a perfect movie. It doesn’t have the greatest script and it definitely isn’t the most visually stunning film ever made, but it has what a lot of movies seem to lack nowadays: unfiltered, raucous fun. It is an unbridled adrenaline rush that captures the essence of a war film and combines it with the chaos of a zombie film to create one of the most, if not the most, absurd and entertaining movies of the year. A little fun never killed anybody, right?
Featured Image by Paramount Pictures