Fantastic Fest 2018 –“Overlord” Review: Not What You Expect, But Still a Fun Time

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If you have seen the trailer for 2018’s Overlord, you may be expecting a Wolfensein-like, action movie with plenty of Nazi zombies, grotesque experiments, and other horror elements sprayed liberally over the films run time. Like so often we see now with modern movie marketing, this is not exactly the case.

The horror elements are in there to be sure, but really only feature heavily in the third act and even then there appears to only be one variety of monster for our heroes to fight. The rest of this movie is very much a traditional men on a mission war film even going as so far to open and close with black and white credit sequences to get you in that 50’s mindset.

This gonna be another undead Kruat hunt sir?

We have our crew of ragtag soldiers, our anything-to-get-the-job-done leader Corporal (Wyatt Russell), our moral compass of a main character Private Boyce (Jovan Adepo), and nearly impossible mission for them to complete. Said mission is to take down a radio tower that not only is a pivotal target for the war effort but also the sight of horrific Nazi super soldier experiments that will make you think Red Skull hiding just off screen.

The action of the film is tight, bloody and satisfying and manages to make the B monster movie stuff not feel out of place with the more gritty and realistic war movie stuff. The opening plane drops sequence is particularly breathtaking and feels like such a successful tribute to Saving Private Ryan you will start to imagine Tom Hanks sitting in one of those landing boats underneath their bullet magnet of a plane.

The cast is also doing great work here. They all may be playing their war movie types but everyone brings their A game and really make a meal of their role. Jovan Adepo is likeable and compelling as the compassionate soldier, Mathilde Oliver brings credibility to her self sufficient female character that we almost never get to see in movies like this, and whatever genius cast John Magaro as the trash talking, gruff soldier should be freaking applauded.

Seriously, Magaro is so good in this I will be shocked if he is not on the shortlist for any wise-cracking soldier parts in the future. The stand out here though has got to be Wyatt Russell who is channeling the early B movie, tough guy charisma of his dad so well, we might as well slap an eyepatch on this kid and get that “Escape from New York” remake started already.

There is a slight hiccup in the pacing of this film. After a heart pounding opening sequence, we are treated to a second act where there is a lot of talk and planning about completing their mission without a whole lot of actually getting it done.

This does provide time for the characters to breathe and develop, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t think to myself “Just storm the freaking Nazi castle already!” a few times. Also, the movie doesn’t want to let any of those war movie cliches go to waste, which makes for a story that doesn’t hold that many genuine surprises. Fortunately, the movie has so much fun that it doesn’t really matter you see most of the story beats coming.

“All right men! File in and stand still for a moment so the audience can play the who-is-going-to-die-first drinking game”

Overlord isn’t revolutionary but a blast to experience. I would recommend catching it in a theater with some friends when it comes out on Nov.9, 2018.