It can be really refreshing to see a solid movie with an original idea, B- and C-list actors, a good story, and excellent visual effects. So it was extremely refreshing to find that Overlord was a very good movie and an enjoyable ride.
This starts off as a normal World War II movie, and by the end is something almost completely different. But it works really well. On D-Day, a small battalion is tasked with taking out a tower that is blocking Allied communication. The movie leads off with this battalion as they are about to parachute in from a plane. It goes terribly wrong, and the main character Ed Boyce falls out of the plane before he’s ready. This is shown by an incredible tracking shot as he is falling and flipping in midair that shows the surrounding destruction and violence.
That particular shot is able to set the tone for the kind of effects in the movie and how action scenes are going to be shot. The action is shot in such a way that lets you see what is going on in a visceral way. Even when the zombie-like people are introduced, the violence is still realistic, brutal, and worthy of being in a war movie.
And that is what makes this movie special. It has sci-fi elements where the filmmakers could have gone in the action movie direction, but they decided to keep it brutal and the film really benefits from it. This allows the whole film to feel genuine. It lets you know early on that, yes, this is very much a war movie, and no one is safe at any time. Even the lead characters are in danger.
The movie makes you care about the characters, too. It’s a character-driven film, which is one of the many reasons it works. It gives each of the characters time to flesh out, so that when they are in danger, we’re worried for specific reasons. And then the times when one or more of them are killed, we feel the hurt their comrades are feeling.
Overlord is a film that really shouldn’t work. There are Nazi scientists doing experiments on people that make them seem like they belong in I Am Legend. But this is a solid movie about characters we care about that looks beautiful. You couldn’t ask for much else from a movie like this.