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Blu-ray Review: Overlord

February 19, 2019

By John Corrado

★★½ (out of 4)

Produced by J.J. Abrams, Overlord is a World War II adventure that reimagines the war as a sort of horror movie, complete with gory violence and twisted Nazi experiments that are the stuff of nightmares.

The film unfolds on the eve of D-Day, and follows a group of American paratroopers who are being airlifted to a Nazi-occupied town in France to take out a radio tower in an old church that is disrupting their signals and being used by the Third Reich to communicate with their troops on the beaches of Normandy.

Their plane is shot down by enemy fire, but a small group of men survive the crash, including Corporal Ford (Wyatt Russell) and Private Boyce (Jovan Adepo). The American soldiers find themselves behind enemy lines, and take refuge at the home of a French villager named Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier), who agrees to let the men hide in her attic to protect them from the German soldiers patrolling the area, led by the evil Captain Wafner (Pilou Asbæk).

But things take an unexpected turn when Boyce makes his way to the church and discovers the horrific science experiments that the Third Reich is carrying out in a fortified bunker underneath the building, unleashing a reign of terror in the form of chemically enhanced and nearly immortal super soldiers that Hitler is using to build a “thousand year army.” This is where Overlord goes from being a gritty war drama, and morphs into a mix of body horror and all-out splatterfest.

While there is some effort to develop the characters here, they are mostly one-dimensional, and there is a bit of a video game feel to the fairly simple “get in, get out” nature of the plot. In fact, many viewers have actually compared Overlord to the game Wolfenstein. The story also takes a bit long to get going and reveal its true nature in the first half, following the visceral and intense plane crash sequence that opens the film, but once things go insane about halfway through, it’s a blast to watch.

Director Julius Avery stages some thrilling action scenes throughout, building towards a climax that throws a lot at the screen and moves at a relentless pace. The film also relies on a good amount of old school practical effects, which gives a tactical feel to the many gross and gory images on display. For a gruesomely violent genre mashup that goes from revisionist history war movie to Nazi zombie thriller, Overlord offers stylish and nasty B-movie thrills, and is ultimately a good bit of fun to watch if you’re in the mood for that sort of thing.

The Blu-ray also includes an extended featurette on the production entitled The Horrors of War, which is broken up into the six chapters Creation, Death Above, Death on the Ground, Death Below, Death No More and Brothers in Arms, offering a solid and surprisingly thorough look at what went into making the film, with a heavy focus on the impressive special effects.

Overlord is a Paramount Home Media Distribution release. It’s 109 minutes and rated 18A.

Street Date: February 19th, 2019

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