Being the first intellectual property independent of any previously established franchises J.J. Abrams has been involved with since 2014, Overlord had extreme hype behind it from the off, with many speculating that it could even be a further instalment in the Cloverfield franchise.
Overlord follows a group of American soldiers who are dropped behind enemy lines on the eve of D-Day with orders to take down a German radio tower – causing them to stumble onto a whole operation of secret Nazi experiments.
It starts off strong, showing the talent of every single person both on and off screen. The audience is greeted by beautiful cinematography, great direction, and a well-penned script – all of which shows the horrors and reality of war.
In most war films there’s an unrealistic outlook when it comes to character, with everyone on screen seemingly hard-skinned veterans of war. The reality is, most soldiers didn’t want to be there – they had to be. And if they did happen to go to war of their own volition, they most certainly weren’t prepared for what was to come. But refreshingly, Overlord shows how a lot of the soldiers were extremely out of their depths and completely terrified.
Unfortunately, the rest of Overlord doesn’t recapture the quality of those first thirty minutes, slipping to its lowest point within the second act before rising again for the third – but still never quite getting back to that opening. As a whole, it’s a fun probably one of my most enjoyable films of the year, it’s just a shame to see how it could have turned out if that high standard had been consistent. It could have even been a competitor for film of the year.
The problems begin to arise once Mathilde Ollivier’s character Chloe appears. Once this happens, the whole dynamic of the characters is shown to be extremely unoriginal – the same dynamic we’ve seen over and over again. The characters are still likeable, yes and their performances are good, but that’s about it. There’s no substance to any of them, most being just the character trait they’re given.
Soon after the first act, the issues seem to stem from the script, with characters, dynamic, and general originality failing.
But the biggest issue? Pacing.
Overlord wants to do something with the story rather than just show one explosion after another, but the spacing of the action is poor, with the entire middle section meandering. It’s still interesting enough to keep bums in seats, but those bums become uncomfortable and restless.
Overall Overlord is a popcorn flick. Nothing more, nothing less. And it’s not really surprising considering it was the brainchild of J.J. Abrams, but usually Abrams is able to bring a little more to his films, whereas Overlord merely comes and goes – nothing unique or special.
This will most likely have zero effect on the success of Abrams’s creation, it just means that anyone expecting anything more than just a good time, will be sorely disappointed. Alas, anyone going in for a good time will have the time of their lives.