Sometimes, when going to the movies, you want to see something deep and complex, such as Suspiria or A Star is Born. Other times, however, you might just want to see a bunch of Americans take down an army of Nazi zombies. Thankfully, we now have Overlord to help us scratch that itch.
Overlord is a new movie from director Julius Avery and producer J.J. Abrams (producing credit often doesn’t mean much when it comes to movies, but you can really feel the Abrams influence on this one).
Instead of making you wait, I’m just going to spoil it now — Overlord is a whole lot of bloody, violent fun that makes for one hell of a crowd-pleasing ride. Genre fans are really going to eat this one up.
Set on the eve of D-Day, a troop of American soldiers is flying over Germany with the intent to kill any and every Nazi they might come in contact with (take that, Donald Trump).
The mission is simple: Pvt. Boyce (Jovan Adepo), Captain Ford (Wyatt Russell), Tibbet (John Magaro), Chase (Iain De Caestecker) and Dawson (Jacob Anderson) are to para-troop onto land and make their way to a small, mostly abandoned village not far from the coast.
From there, they have to take down a radio tower that’s been placed on top of the church, which lies in the center of town. Once they do that, the Nazis won’t be able to detect incoming planes, meaning the Allies can send everyone they have to reign hellfire down on Hitler’s army.
The mission starts off bad from the get-go. The troop’s plane is shot down, leaving them completely abandoned without any hopes of receiving back-up or support.
They manage to make their way to the village and — thanks to the help of a local civilian named Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier), who has a shared hatred of the German army — are able to take cover, but the town is completely overrun by Nazis.
The only way to the church, then, is for the troops fight their way in.
Which would have been a lot less difficult if the church wasn’t secretly home to a zombie army that Dr. Schmidt (Erich Redman) is quietly trying to build for the Nazis. As he puts it in the trailer, “A thousand year army needs thousand year soldiers.”
While the mission to blow up the radio tower remains the same, Boyce and the rest of the crew quickly realize that they’re in way over their heads here. They’re no longer just trying to help the Allies gain some ground on the Germans, but are instead quite literally fighting for the sake of the entire human race.
Let the blood and guts rain.
And rain they do, in glorious fashion, as Overlord delights in it’s campiness in the best possible way. Nobody who’s attached to the film is foolish enough to think they’re making a moving Oscar-piece here. It might be set in the same time period as Saving Private Ryan or Schindler’s List, but Avery isn’t going for that in the slightest. He just wants to have some good ‘ole zombie fun.
Which is, hands down, the best part about Overlord. Given that they embrace the B-movie tone, the audience is allowed to just kick back and watch the whole mystery box unfold without having to take anything too seriously (there might be a couple of scenes that stand in the way of this when they try to do some character work that never quite works, but it’s still mostly true nonetheless).
The thing that most people don’t fully realize, though, is that it still takes a lot of hard work and talent to create an effective B-movie. You have to nail the tone, the pacing, the world building, the atmosphere, the characters and everything else, or else you’ll end up with a weird hybrid of a movie that can’t decide what it wants to be.
Avery (who is a director you’re going to want to keep an eye on) and Abrams nail this to the fullest degree. Overlord keeps a near-perfect pace throughout the entire runtime, never showing its hand too early but never stringing us along for too long.
The cast, too, deserves credit for the work they do in Overlord. Again, these aren’t Oscar-caliber roles but, again, they aren’t trying to be. Everyone here is just having fun making this insane creature-feature, which translates on-screen as you get the feeling this is a group of friends who all want to be here and care about this project.
The two standouts are Wyatt Russell and Mathilde Ollivier, both of whom bring an extra something to their characters.
On that note, can we just take a minute to really appreciate Wyatt Russell? Not only does he look just like his father, Kurt Russell, but he certainly inherited his acting chops too. Watching Wyatt Russell act here really brought me back to The Thing, when Kurt Russell was the one venturing into some heavy monster/genre movies. How cool is it that we now get to watch Wyatt follow in his father’s footsteps, as he has all the potential in the world to become just as big of a name as his father?
At one point, Overlord was supposed to be a Cloverfield prequel (hence the reason Abrams was involved). While this is MILES better than The Cloverfield Paradox could ever have dreamed to be, I’m so glad that it’s not. Overlord earns its right to be it’s own thing and, Lord willing, it’s own franchise.
It’s impossible to say whether or not it will find that large of an audience right off the bat (genre fans are certainly going to appreciate it, but I really see Overlord being more of a sleeper hit/cult-classic), but I wouldn’t mind seeing more stories in this universe. Whether that be sequels, prequels or spin-offs, I think there are more stories to tell here and, to be honest, I’m far more interested in seeing what an up-and-coming filmmaker could do with this franchise than seeing another extended universe try to make us care about something that’s clearly not working (looking at you, Allspark pictures).
Watch the trailer for Overlord here and then let us know, in the comments below, what you thought of the movie!