Movie Review: Overlord

This was supposed to be the week that saw the release of CREED II but Warner Bros. has decided to hold onto it for two more weeks for some reason. With that big film out of the way, one might think that it’s slim pickings for other new releases in Hong Kong this week. It is, depending on whether or not you fancy genre-mashing, zombie Nazi films. The other highly anticipated film out this week is OVERLORD, from producer J.J. Abrams.

In OVERLORD, it’s just hours before the Allied Forces launch their D-Day assault on the Nazis in occupied France. A team of American paratroopers is sent to a small town in Normandy on a mission to destroy a communications centre that the Germans have installed inside the town’s church tower. When they arrive there, the men quickly realise that they have far bigger problems to deal with than just blowing up a key piece of enemy infrastructure before their fellow soldiers arrive by sea. They must also face off against violent creatures that are the result of a secret experiment that the Nazis are engaged in deep in the tunnels running under the church.

Fans of the zombie genre will love this film full stop. I’m not one of them but I have to say that for what this is, it’s fairly enjoyable. Yes, it’s campy and the story does have some curious plot holes (like why are there good zombies and how do you become one?), but it’s well-made and well-acted, especially from a cast that is fairly unknown. The first twenty minutes of the film is high-adrenaline intensity as the paratroopers prepare themselves for their dangerous mission. It’s evident that Abrams’ hands were all over this sequence as the combination of impressive CGI complete with his signature plane crashes and full-blown sound makes for thrilling cinema that will put viewers on the edge of their seats. Once the men land though, the film’s pace slows and the story moves into familiar territory when the men meet Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier), a young, local woman who agrees to help them in their mission. A series of jump scares keeps the story moving forward until the tension ratchets up again when the men are discovered by Nazi officer Wafner (Pilou Asbæk, TV’s GOT; BEN-HUR (2016); GHOST IN THE SHELL), who stops at nothing to ensure that the team is neutralized before they can carry out their mission.

Jovan Adepo (FENCES) puts in a fine performance as the film’s protagonist, Private Boyce. Yes, we can argue that in WWII African-American soldiers were segregated but this is a zombie movie so let’s ignore that Boyce’s unit was the model of enlightenment for its time. Wyatt Russell, son of actors Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, plays Boyce’s commanding officer and explosives expert, Corporal Ford. He, too, does good work here as the team’s leader and resident muscle, as his character takes on Asbæk’s juiced up, ultimate nasty Nazi.

OVERLORD is not going to win any film awards but if you’re looking for a couple hours of mindless entertainment with more than a few scares thrown in, you could do far worse than this.

Watch the review recorded on Facebook Live on Thursday, November 8th at 8:30 am HK time!

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