Critic Consensus: Part revisionist war drama, part zombie thriller, and part all-out genre gorefest, Overlord offers A-level fun for B-movie fans of multiple persuasions.
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Critic Reviews for Overlord
Overlord takes many elements you've seen before and creates a mashup that's able to deliver some gory fun, riveting suspense, zombie horrors, and terrifying depictions of modern war in equal measure.
It helps to be in the mood for a period Nazi zombie shoot-'em-up but it's very successful at being a bit of fun and bloody counterprogramming.
It's reasonably good, creepy fun, provided you're not troubled by fleeting, uncomfortable thoughts like "Hey, that screaming bloodthirsty mutant monster could theoretically be a reanimated Anne Frank."
If anyone ever wished "Saving Private Ryan" were more of a B-movie splatterfest, "Overlord" is the movie for you.
Overlord's problem is that it doesn't seem terribly interested in showing us who its villains are, and thus significantly mutes the satisfaction of watching them get flamethrowered to death.
Audience Reviews for Overlord
SAVING PRIVATE RHINE - My Review of OVERLORD (2 1/2 Stars) My father volunteered to fight the Nazis in World War II as a Navigator in the Army Air Corps, including two missions on D-Day over Normandy. I say this because OVERLORD, directed by Julius Avery and written by Billy Ray (CAPTAIN PHILLIPS) and Mark L. Smith (THE REVENANT) opens on that historic day as a squad of paratroopers prepare to jump behind enemy lines to knock out a German radio tower atop a church. It's an extremely intense sequence, introducing the characters while surrounded by utter mayhem. Of course, things don't go according to plan, leaving the remains of the group with a ticking clock story - destroy the tower or the Allies will surely lose the battle. Think of it as SAVING PRIVATE RYAN except in the air and the mcguffin they seek is a thing and not a person. As such, it's a sound concept for a war movie and the execution is bracing. But then... [SPOILERS - NEXT PARAGRAPH] ...faster than you can say, "Holy Cloverfield!", producer J.J. Abrams pulls a fast one on the audience and introduces...wait for it...wait for it...ZOMBIES! Not just any zombies, but the results of Nazi experiments to create "1000 year soldiers for the 1000 year reich". In the bowels of the church, the Nazis have figured out a way to reanimate people and give them superhuman strength and a good shot at immortality. [END SPOILERS] Damn, and here I thought this was gonna be a Cloverfield origin story! If only! What we end up with is a pulpier, gorier Nazi revisionist fantasy in the INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS realm, but somehow these B-movie affectations rubbed me the wrong way here. Tarantino didn't turn his bad guys into X-Men. The Nazis did unspeakably terrible things to humanity, the likes of which we are still experiencing to this day. To suggest they had supernatural capabilities to produce monsters detracts from the fact that these were human beings committing atrocities on other humans. I was fairly offended and sat there the whole time thinking, these filmmakers know better, right? Right? If you were to separate the historical context from this fllm, however, I can see why people would find it to be a sensationally fun, action packed, David Cronenberg level of outrageously gory splatter fest. It also has a very talented cast who deliver the right amount of Hollywood verve to put across the very odd tone of it all. Let's start with Jovan Adepo, who made a mark in FENCES, and plays Boyce, the fresh recruit who has a far way to go to prove he has the right stuff. Told from his point of view, we feel every inch of his disorientation as things go from harrowing to disgustingly strange. He's matched by Wyatt Russell, who seems to be doing a spot-on imitation of his famous father in THE THING. He's the squad leader who keeps everyone focused on the mission, and he just doesn't have time for anything else. John Magaro "dems, deezes and dozes" his way through the Brooklyn guy character while Mathilde Ollivier matches the men perfectly as a not so innocent French villager with a younger brother who gets in the way at all times and a very very sick aunt upstairs. Neither problem is going to go away in this film very easily. Finally, on the villain side of things we have Pilou (Euron Greyjoy) Asbæk as your garden variety Nazi sadist/rapist/all around terrible person. Like JAWS, it takes a long long time for this film to show its cards. Just when you thought you were enjoying a war film, things start looking like THE FLY had a baby with REANIMATOR and cue body horror images for days. Ultimately, the filmmakers decided to pull the rug out from under themselves by suggesting that the rest of the world may never know what really happened. It's yet another time I groaned audibly. A shame, since I have a soft spot in my heart for these kinds of genre movies. But truth be told, I like my pulp with a little more fiction.
It's a rarity that movies like this are made today. Original concepts are either tampered with by a studio or forced to change in order to fit a franchise or set up an entire universe of movies. It's rare that filmmakers in Hollywood (these days) are given complete freedom to create the movie they want to create, or so it seems. Happily, after watching Overlord, I noticed none of that. While the subject matter may not interest a large audience, I believe this movie can be enjoyed by fans of many genres. If you have an open mind, whether you're a fan of war films, sci-fi films, or a good old fashion slasher/horror, I think Overlord may impress you as much as it impressed me. From start to finish, here's why I believe it's very hard for audience members to get bored with this one. Nearing D-Day, American soldiers are being flown into the battlefield. After their plane is shot down, they form an unlikely ally, while one of them begins to discover that the Nazis have been kidnapping Americans and experimenting on them in bizarre ways. This movie asks a lot of you throughout the second and third acts, as it sets it up as a war film, but pulls the rug out from under you as the movie progresses. As I mentioned, this film is part war, part sci-fi, and part horror, and those genres surprisingly blend together very well and this movie never keeps you waiting. The pacing of this film is easily the aspect that stood out the most to me. A premise like this can easily be chuckled at, but the fact that it begins as a war film, turns into a sci-fi film, and ends up being a horror movie, makes for a very interesting experience. From the second this film started, I felt riveted. Whether you're into an action sequence, a comedy bit, or on the edge of your seat to see who will make it out alive, there's absolutely no downtime. I'm not saying some movies don't need or deserve to be three hours long, but this is a perfect example of a film that utilizes the perfect amount of time needed to tell its story. Giving just the right amount of characters development to most of the crew, just the right amount of horror to not turn off the action junkies who just came for that, and hardly any drawn-out scenes of characters conversing, at 105 minutes, there isn't a single moment where you can take a break and then come back, not having missed something. Although Julius Avery does a very solid job in terms of direction, it's the combination of a tight script by Billy Ray and Mark L. Smith and the frenetic editing by Matt Evans that truly shine here. To me, the overall outcome of the pacing of this film originated with those two elements. On top of that, you have a great cast to keep your audience engaged. While I haven't heard of many of these performers in the past, I can see them receiving quite a few jobs in the near future. For what this film was trying to be, I really can't find many things to complain about here. In the end, Overlord shocked me with how much I actually enjoyed it. The premise itself should make for a bad On Demand release that most people would forget about, but there's a lot of effort put into this movie. The overall story itself may be its biggest issue, due to the fact that there are flaws within the plans of what the Nazis are plotting, but that was a minor nitpick in the grand scheme of things. Personally, I was on the edge of my seat from start to finish and I highly recommend this movie to those who can handle the three genres of war, sci-fi, and horror. Overlord is tightly paced and full of energy.
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