Produced by JJ Abrams, OVERLORD (2018) is a WW2 zombie movie that made me long to watch either a good WW2 movie or good zombie movie, as for me it didn’t quite achieve either. I was excited to watch it as I authored (with Tim Long and David Moody) a WW2 zombie series called THE FRONT, but in the end, I found OVERLORD predictable and boring, despite some really nice visual elements.
The movie begins with a platoon of the 101st Airborne in the skies over Normandy, preparing for the big drop in the early hours of D-Day. Aside from showing a racially integrated unit (okay fine it’s 2018), the movie starts out with overused tropes. The platoon is oddly led by a sergeant, because all sergeants are tough and crusty and lieutenants are novice weaklings, and we have, echoing SAVING PRIVATE RYAN and BAND OF BROTHERS, a “jerk who has a heart” paratrooper bragging how he’s going to killer Hitler and end the war. Everything goes badly, and with only a handful of paratroopers surviving the drop, they set out to a French village where they have to blow up a radio tower, a mission that for some reason is critical for D-Day to succeed. There, they discover the Nazis (in full purely evil sadist trope mode) are experimenting on a zombie serum to create super soldiers. Teaming up with a local woman, our band must destroy the lab and the radio tower.
Visually, the movie is nicely done, and the action is good. The protagonist (Boyce) is likeable enough, though his character is almost as flat as everybody else’s, resulting in me not caring if anybody survived. The pacing in the second act is awfully slow, wasting an opportunity to make me care about these soldiers. OVERLORD seems to want to deliver B movie schlock, and for me it didn’t achieve the pulpy, fun, comical, self-deprecating kind of B movie schlock that really works. As with many Hollywood movies, the result feels flat and paint-by-numbers.
OVERLORD’s gotten some good reviews, so as always YMMV. It’s not horrible, but I found it somewhat forgettable.