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Saturday, February 9, 2019

Review: Overlord

Director: Julius Avery
Screenplay: Billy Ray and Mark. L. Smith
Year: 2018

One of the most bone-chilling things we know about World War II is that, besides the great deal of death and destruction it left, the Nazi army used to perform scientific experiments on prisoners. It has been suggested that these experiments had the purpose to enhance the army, creating new weapons and recovering fallen soldiers. Under this topic “Overlord” develops its premise.

In “Overlord” a group of North American soldiers travels on board of a military plane on its way to Europe in the midst of World War II. The plane is attacked and taken down, and only a small group of soldiers survive, who carry on with the mission, which consists of taking down a control tower not far from where they landed. After arriving at a small town nearby they realize that it is subject to the Nazi regime, but the suspect something else happens in this place. They soon find out that the inhabitants of this town are being used for scientific experiments in an underground laboratory.

Categorizing “Overlord” as a zombie movie would be unfair, as it is much more than that. Since the beginning of the movie, the topic of the soldiers in World War II and the atrocities that happened during this war is present. In the initial scene, we get to know the conflict that will be the main topic of the movie, which is the war, the mission of the soldiers and we start knowing the personalities of the protagonists. Much of this scene focuses on how Boyce, interpreted by Jovan Adepo (“Fences”), reacts to the situation in which the plane he is in gets attacked. It is clear from this scene that he is the protagonist of this story, and it is also clear he does not have the stereotypical character of a soldier, on the contrary, he shows to be fearful of the situation. This character continues to be developed in the rest of the movie, where he faces difficult decisions and he always prefers to do what he thinks is right and not what is in the best interest for the mission. Inside this plane, we also get to know Ford, interpreted by Wyatt Russell (“Everybody Wants Some!!”), who is an experienced corporal that has developed much character and the ability to think clearly under high-pressure situations because of his military experience. He acts as a kind of antihero, a tough cold guy who always have the right answer for all situations watching the best interest of the mission, but for whom you end up caring. In this scene, we also get to know Tibbet and Rosenfeld, interpreted by John Magaro (“The Big Short”) and Dominic Applewhite (“The King’s Speech”), who are together with the protagonists for most of the movie. The whole cast dos a great work and bring convincing characters and manage that the viewer cares for what happens to them.

Once in the small French town, the protagonists realize the town is under the menace and watch of the Nazi soldiers. There they meet Chloe, interpreted by Mathilde Ollivier, a young French girl tired of the Nazi regime and Wafner, interpreted by Pilou Asbaek (“Game of Thrones”) who stands out with his great interpretation of this villain, the detestable and bloodthirsty man in charge of this group of Nazis. Once in the town, they start to see the public butchery that the Nazis have with the inhabitants and that some of them are being used in scientific experiments. Here they start to showcase the extremely graphic violence that elevates the sense of despair and injustice and is one of the best-crafted areas of the movie. Although the violent scenes are constant, they never feel forced or out of place, and they meet the purpose of contributing to the plot and that the viewer gets inside the story, which they manage to do from the start until the end. The special effects for these scenes are excellent and contribute to realism and manage to impact with their rawness. This binds well with the good treatment of the locations and visuals and creates aesthetically impressive images, even the most grotesque ones.

While “Overlord” does not bring a new concept, it gets to use two weathered movie topics, as is World War II and zombies, and make them their own. They do not simply throw in these elements to a story, but they tie them perfectly and achieve that none of them are too overwhelming. In the topic of zombies about everything has already been done, but they still find how to put a unique touch to these creatures, which in this movie it hard for me to call them zombies as they manage to give them a different identity to the conventional and end up with the perfect creatures for the plot.

The weakest point of the movie falls on the script. While in a lot of parts it offers new things inside worn topics, in other parts it cannot avoid falling in their clichés. Also, in some parts, the main characters make decisions that are questionable and expose them to unnecessary risks. Even though, none of this overshadows the great work done and does not affect the enjoyment of the film.

“Overlord” ended up being a great experience. I enjoyed this movie from the first until the last minute. It is a perfect blend of a good story, good acting, and graphic violence, accompanied by impressive visuals. It is all given in small doses, so nothing feels out of place and even the crudest scenes make their way in without much effort and contribute to the plot or character development and conflicts.

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