Reviews for the Easily Distracted

Reviews For The Easily Distracted:

Title: Overlord

Describe This Movie In One "Comfortably Numb" Quote:

PINK FLOYD: Okay...just a little pin prick / There'll be no more "AHHHHH!" / But you may feel a little sick 
Brief Plot Synopsis: Things to do on D-Day when you're dead.

Rating Using Random Objects Related To The Film:
 3.5 delicious rum and fruit juice drinks whose name escapes me at the moment out of 5.

Tagline: "Stop the unstoppable."

Better Tagline: "It's not a Cloverfield movie. Honest."

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: On the (literal) eve of the D-Day invasion, a paratrooper squad heads into occupied France to destroy a Nazi communications post. The drop goes disastrously wrong, leaving only a few men, including new arrival Boyce (Jovan Adepo), to complete the mission. Now led by the taciturn Cpl. Ford (Wyatt Russell) the soldiers soon discover something far more sinister than radio broadcasts.

"Critical" Analysis: Nazi zombies don't have what you'd call a "rich" cinematic history. The first example dates back to 1943's Revenge of the Zombies (pretty on the nose there), but once the world became aware of the extent of the Third Reich's real-life atrocities, adding undead cannibals to the mix seemed almost quaint. 1977's Shock Waves and the more recent Dead Snow (and its sequel, Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead. Yes, really) are the most notable recent examples.

Unlike those, Overlord actually takes place during the war, and it's an efficiently nasty piece of work. Director Julius Avery does a good job using tension and well-crafted action to spice up Billy Ray (Captain Phillips, Shattered Glass) and Mark L. Smith's (The Revenant) mostly derivative story.

Things start off with a literal bang, when Boyce's squad's plane is shot down, leaving him and Ford as the only apparent survivors. Cinemtographers Laurie Rose and Fabian Wagner do great work transforming idyllic French woods into a charnel forest for the two to travel through. Things barely improve for the pair when they encounter Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier), a French villager living with her little brother and sick aunt. We soon learn the aunt's illness is courtesy of the Germans, who are up to ... something in the nearby compound.

The local Nazis are an exceptionally nasty bunch, and that's saying something. This goes double for Wafner, the fort's commander, portrayed by Pilou Asbæk. It's hard to believe this guy could play a more repellent character than Game of Thrones' Euron Greyjoy, but he found a way. Once you get past the probably unnecessary establishment of Wafner's sado-rapist bona fides (the guy's in the SS, surely that's enough?), the malevolent chemistry between him and Russell's Cpl. Ford is delightfully nasty.

Overlord's plot isn't going to surprise anybody. Even the briefest trailer give away the "big reveal" that comes about a third of the way through, and the squad that ends up assailing the tower contains both a tough-talking New Yorker named Tibbet (John Magaro) and a reluctant Jewish kid (Dominic Applewhite).

And no, there's no WWII movie trope for "black kids from Louisiana" because African-American soldiers didn't serve with white ones at the time. However, this is a movie about Nazis experimenting with a resurrection serum in order to create "thousand year soldiers," so historical accuracy isn't exactly a priority.

[For that matter, it's not really explained why a special insertion mission was needed to blow up a radio tower within sight of the Normandy coast. Ike couldn't divert a bomber for that?]

Overlord slows down a bit too much in the second act, and though you'll have no problem seeing pretty much everything coming, other ideas are teased and never realized. For example, Boyce at one point mentions his Haitian mother, which is about as perfect a segue into a zombie connection as you could ask for. Alas, nothing comes of it. But that's okay, because Overlord is smart and vicious enough to qualify as a worthy addition to the ranks of cinema's undead Reich.
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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar