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  Overlord Choose Your BattlesBuy this film here.
Year: 2018
Director: Julius Avery
Stars: Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier, Pilou Asbæk, John Magaro, Iain De Caestecker, Jacob Anderson, Dominic Applewhite, Gianny Taufer, Joseph Quinn, Bokeem Woodbine, Erich Redman, Mark McKenna, Hayley Carmichael, Marc Rissman
Genre: Horror, Action, War
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Boyce (Jovan Adepo) is an American paratrooper flying towards France on D-Day as the Allied forces unleash their assault on the Nazis with a mission to win the Second World War. The experience is rattling him, and also his fellow troops, some of whom cover up their nerves with bravado, but the fact remains there is much to be nervous about which is apparent when the enemy opens fire on the aeroplanes. Boyce's craft is hit and he narrowly manages to escape the plummeting vehicle with his life, falling into the water below, as do some lucky survivors, but precisely how lucky they are is a moot point when the mission has a secret purpose: welcome to sheer Hell...

Not literal Hell, but the celebrated saying "War is Hell" was taken to heart by Overlord, cheekily lifting its title from an actual D-Day endeavour and applying it to what started as a war movie and ended up as a horror movie. Rather than take its cue from the Nazisploitation genre that emerged in the nineteen-sixties to the seventies, so there was little sexual element here to be leered at (or leered by), this title was more influenced by the computer gaming industry - oh, let's face it, it was an unofficial Wolfenstein adaptation, as many were wont to point out, especially those who had played the game in the nineties, or its sequels in more recent times.

The bad taste of turning a horrendous global tragedy into a shoot 'em up game was rarely broached when the original game became a hit, this despite the final boss being a robotic Adolf Hitler who you had to riddle with bullets to win, and it was accurate to observe Overlord did not go quite as far as that. This said, it was not too far off, as while there were no historical figures depicted in this J.J. Abrams production (not connected to Cloverfield, before you asked), there were strong references to the twisted Nazi experiments of the likes of Dr Josef Mengele, only in this case rather than being horrendous torture under the flimsy guise of research, they were more successful in creating a supersoldier of the type that littered science fiction and horror.

The idea that science could bring about some kind of evolution from humanity into some superhuman evil that lived for violence and lusted to be set loose on their masters' enemies could be seen anywhere from The X-Files on television to the Universal Soldier series in the cinema, and proved a difficult one for the genres to shake, particularly when they gave the excuse for setpiece action sequences with incredibly-powered he-men battering seven shades of shit out of one another, rather than being hit once very hard and falling over, incapacitated. That's what would happen in real life, but fiction such as this was very fond of the concept that could also be seen in contemporary superhero blockbusters, over and over. Some found this thrilling, for others it was deadening in its bluster.

That was not the film's biggest issue for some, on the other hand, as the casting of black star Adepo in a U.S. paratrooper role was historically inaccurate, as the naysayers never stopped liking to point out. If you had a problem with that, maybe this wasn't the film for you as the rest of it was not exactly cast iron when it came to accuracy either, and that this was essentially a fantasy to play out the beating of the Nazis once again rendered it not that objectionable if you were able to get over its subject matter getting twisted in this fashion. The cast owed much to actual propaganda efforts of World War II, slotting into various clichéd roles, and yes, there were black actors employed in those films too - look at Rex Ingram in the Humphrey Bogart flagwaver Sahara for example: the Allies were intent on showing a united front in such material, and that meant internationally and across racial divides the U.S. Military was not as progressive enough to apply itself. Overlord was a daft action horror when you boiled it down, but it almost unintentionally brought up these matters nonetheless. Music by Jed Kurzel.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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