I went to a preview screening of “Overlord” last night. If you’ve been to the cinema recently they’ve been advertising it heavily in the “Upcoming Features” promo and this always concerns me – if you have to push a film that hard it’s normally not that good so does my theory hold true for Overlord? Yes and no!
Overlord is set the day before D-Day and we start with a group of paratroopers flying to France to take out a radio jamming tower. There’s the usual banter between the soldiers which serves to introduce the characters which is where one problem in the film lies. The American army had an official policy of segregation until 1948 so it’s unlikely that a black solider would be serving with a white unit, and even unlikelier that the commanding sergeant would be an African-American as well.
There are a few other liberties taken with the D-Day timeline – I don’t think the paratroopers would have seen the full D-Day invasion force at the time they were flying (around midnight) – sure it would have started to pull together but they wouldn’t leave the whole fleet to hang around for 6 hours – plus the fleet is seen when the sun is setting indicating it’s sitting there at least 10 hours before the invasion!). Also, for a mission like this they probably would have been sent down in gliders rather than parachuting but that would ruin the start if the film and we need to remember this is a film after all and not a historically accurate documentary!
The opening 10 minutes of the are great – this isn’t a spoiler by the way as you can see this in the trailer – we follow Ed Boyce (Jovan Adepo) as he is pushed out of his disintegrating plane, flailing around trying to open his parachute. It’s really well shot and you feel like you’re with the poor guy hurtling down to earth amongst flak and debris.
After this, for the first 35 minutes or so you’re in what appears to be a typical war film, the Americans are trying to regroup to get to their target and the Germans are out in the woods trying to hunt them down. The remainder of the unit – Corporal Ford and Privates Boyce, wise-guy Tibbet and photographer Chase – come across Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier), a French woman who’s not in the resistance but hates the Germans so is happy to help keep the Americans safe.
Boyce is sent out to search for any remaining stragglers and ends up in a German truck full of dead bodies heading towards a bunker under the radio tower they need to bring down. Boyce manages to escape detection which might seem a bit unlikely but I’ve played Call Of Duty: World War II so I know that German guards can’t hear or see anything. As Boyce is trying to find a way out he comes across some grizzly sights such as a disembodied head that’s still able to speak and some weird looking amniotic sacks and then finds fellow US soldier Rosenfeld (Dominic Applewhite) and together they escape the facility.
The second half of the film moves away from your being all Call Of Duty and moves in to Call Of Duty: Nazi Zombies territory. This is where my other issues with the film lie: the action is fast paced enough as you’re kept entertained (I didn’t look at my watch until just before the end of the film which is always a good sign that I’m enjoying myself) but it’s so dark you miss a lot of the action – okay, I know it’s set in an underground bunker/crypt thing but I’m pretty sure they would have had a generator for some lights – even the French village has a couple of outside lights on for goodness sake!
The special effects are decent enough but nothing special, and nothing we haven’t seen somewhere else and, to be honest, it’s not that scary. I’m not sure why it’s been released as an 18 given the content – I’ve seen gorier and scarier 15s. The characters are also very stereotypical of this type of film – commander that goes out of control, evil Gestapo officer (played perfectly by Pilou Asbæk who almost has sleaze oozing out of every pore), the put-upon reluctant hero in Boyce and motormouth Tibbet. If there was a checklist of what to include in a War film, this movie has checked every box and as a result the characters are one-dimensional and even though the script tries to add depth with backstories this is rather forced.
The last action scene of the film though is epic – I’m not going to spoil it for you but it looks as though it’s all been shot in one take (seems to be all the rage these days) but I can’t see how they would accomplish this as the scale of the stage required would have been huge. It’s probably worth seeing the film just to check out the opening parachute scene and final action sequence.
Overall the film was good, not great but good. If you’re looking for something that is a bit different from the Superhero and musical stuff that’s been everywhere for so long then I’d recommend checking this out and while it’s not a true “make you jump” horror there is some gore so it may not be suitable for all audiences.
And, as special bonus for you if you like the idea of Nazi Zombies then check out Outpost This was released 10 years before Overlord which owes a heck of a lot to its predecessor.
There’s also a sequel Outpost: Black Sun (2012)
Oh, and Outpost: Rise of the Spetsnaz (2013)
And if you like a bit of comedy with your horror (and don’t mind reading subtitles or understand Norwegian) then I can highly recommend Dead Snow
What’s your favourite zombie film? Let me know in the comments!