Movie Review: Overlord
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Director: Julius Avery
by Jason Koenigsberg
Dr. Josef Mengele performed a lot of sick and twisted experiments on human patients for the Nazis during World War II, but it is doubtful that any of them resulted in what is shown on screen in Overlord. In fact, his experiments were probably more depraved than what is seen here, just less theatrical and splatter-worthy. It opens up with the Paramount logo and we hear sirens, Winston Churchill’s voice, and music notes reminiscent of Goblin’s score for Dawn of the Dead (1978) setting up what the viewer is in for. The first shot shows naval ships and fighter planes as far as the eye can see and then the title flashes. From there we meet a squad of soldiers on a plane. We learn that these are Allied troops attacking France on D-Day. Overlord jumps right into the action. We meet the characters for a few minutes and then their plane gets hit and there is a long shot of the plane burning up as the camera follows one soldier getting to his feet, jumping out of the plane, opening his parachute, and landing in the water. Only there does the director finally cut to the next shot of him struggling to cut himself free from his parachute.
From there the action slows down (only slightly) and the story takes over as a few of the surviving soldiers reunite and continue on their mission of taking down a tower at a Nazi-occupied village in France. As the trailers have shown, these soldiers encounter more than just evil Nazis as they pursue their mission. They discover underground bunkers where Nazi doctors are performing experiments on the townspeople trying to create “thousand year soldiers to live during their thousand year Reich”. What they have made are deformed beasts that look nasty and refuse to die unless you crush their head. These monsters follow the zombie rules established by George Romero.
A lot of the action takes place running from and destroying these deformed humans in these underground bunkers as the US soldiers try to evade the Nazis. Overlord ends up feeling more like a video game than a movie, a video game that the audience cannot control so it is at times a frustrating experience. Beyond the premise, there is not much imagination to Overlord. The viewer is treated to two distinct types of violence in this film. There is the standard typical warfare combat violence similar to Saving Private Ryan (1998) and the more grotesque and innovate horror violence like Dawn of the Dead. So for that Overlord should get some credit for delivering a violence style smorgasbord. Unfortunately, Overlord cannot be forgiven for an oddly boring second act and an absolutely crazy third act where almost all of the splatter violence and explosions take place, as well as a majority of the really gross images this movie gives you. They did save all of the best stuff for the beginning and the end. The viewer could take a pee break or a well-timed nap during the middle and not miss a thing. Overlord is not a terrible movie by any means but with the new Halloween and Suspiria movies playing on the big screen which are both much better films, there is no need to sit through Overlord. Only true horror fans who have already seen everything else that is playing should be curious to check out Overlord, otherwise, skip it.
Want to see a better movie with Nazi Zombies? Check out Dead Snow (2009), one of the best zombie movies of the 21st century.