Overlord mixes zombies and war
The horrors of war are literally realized in Overlord from Paramount Pictures & Bad Robot Productions. It's June 1944 and on the eve of D-DAY, where a team of paratroopers are on a mission to destroy a German radio tower. Director Julius Avery makes the wise choice to introduce the audience to the group members, who we know will figure into our central plot. Among the paratroopers are Pvt. Boyce (Jovan Adepo), Cpl. Ford (Wyatt Russell), Tibbet (John Magaro), and Chase (Iain De Carestecker). Naturally, the group's plane is shot down. The only survivors are Corporal Ford and fellow soldiers Boyce, Tibbet, Chase, and Dawson.
After suffering another casualty, the team runs into a French woman, Chloe, who agrees to help them. Making their way into the village, the team ends coming face to face with Dr. Wafner (Pilou Asbæk), who routinely takes advantage of Chloe. Along the way, the group discovers experiments are being conducted on villagers and captured soldiers and must decide to forgo their mission or help out Chloe and the villagers.
Initial reports and rumor were that Overlord would serve as a prequel of sorts to producer J.J. Abrams's popular Cloverfield franchise. This proves to be untrue as Overlord is more of a war drama with horror elements mixed. Billy Ray and Mark L. Smith's script takes a bit of real history and uses it as a template for their film. Any World War 2 history buff can attest to the fact that Hitler wanted a perfect race and that he conducted heinous experiments. The script touches on these elements as well as what happens to those who fail the trials. I respect the approach writing duo Billy Ray and Mark L. Smith's take with the material as IT isn't that far-fetched.
In terms of directing, Julius Avery proves to a cinematic eye for action sequences. One of my favorite moments involves Pvt. Boyce (Jovan Adepo), failing out of a plane. During the sequence, Avery uses technical work to showcase the fear in Pvt. Boyce's eyes and we feel every moment as Boyce descends to the ground. The other action sequences are also exciting and well shot, echoing back to the eighties shooting action sequences instead of shaky cam.
The cast is also quite good. Jovan Adepo brings a natural innocence to Pvt. Boyce while Wyatt Russell is an action star in the making. As Cpl. Ford, Russell has a kick-ass, get the job done and ask questions later approach, which works. Pilou Asbæk is excellent as our villain Dr. Wafner. As our final girl, Mathilde Ollivier is equally good as Chloe.
I do have a few gripes with Overlord. While Billy Ray and Mark L. Smith's script is creative, I knew who all of the casualties would be the minute they appeared on the screen. I was also hoping to see more of one of the character actors Bookem Woodbine, who is reduced to a cameo. Outside of my few small issues, I still recommended taking a trip to your local theater Overlord. Successfully mixing horror with action, Overlord is another winner for Bad Robot Productions when it comes to good ole fashioned entertainment.
Final Grade: B