R Dir: Julius Avery | Paramount | 1h 50min
Plot: What’s it about?
One of 2018’s biggest surprises is also one of the more enjoyable films, although it did kind of fly under the radar. While he only acted as producer this time, JJ Abrams’s influence can definitely be felt throughout the film via its unique style and look. If the trailers promised you a film with all-out mayhem, along the lines of something like Dawn of the Dead then you might be a bit letdown, but the film does give us the goods. It’s just more of a slow burn than some viewers might be expecting, but I felt that to be a nice change of pace as action overload can sometimes be too much. Set in 1944 with American paratroopers set out to take down a German radio tower, the film has just enough plot and character development before it gets to the bonkers of a climax.
When Nazis shoot down the plane carrying our heroes, only a few survive. The captain of these men is Corporal Ford (Wyatt Russell) who wants nothing more than to carry out the mission, even with the now dire circumstances. The task is quite simple: take out the radio tower, even if doing so is indeed the hard part. First Class Ed Boyce (Jovan Adepo) is one of the few lead characters, and when their paths cross with Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier), she helps the soldiers and Boyce and the others help her. There are some plot details she reveals to them, but the big twist to just what exactly is going on isn’t revealed until the last half of the film. The trailers gave glimpses of that, but there were some nifty twists here.
I will admit that seeing Overlord for the first time theatrically, the experience was a bit better than at home. I think the theatrical setting, and lower lighting helped, in addition to seeing things unravel for the first time. While that initial excitement wore off a bit at home, it’s still quite the experience, and kept me involved. I cared enough about the characters and the outcome, even if there is a bit of predictability to the whole thing. I’ve read some comments that the middle section could’ve used some trimming, but I felt the film is paced just right. There are movies that don’t need the extra fat or plot developments, but I appreciated that our senses aren’t violated to the point of getting nauseous. There is quite a bit of gore, mostly in the last half, but it works since the film doesn’t overdo it. There’s a pretty good balance of action and thrills. As mentioned, some viewers might’ve been expecting a slightly different film, but it took me by surprise. Overlord definitely deserves a rental at the very least.
Video: How’s it look?
This combo pack features a very strong 2.40:1 HEVC 4K transfer, but it should be noted that the image is indeed quite dark. It’s a film best watched at night or with very dim lighting to really get the most out of it. Viewers can adjust their settings accordingly. I admit that I tinkered with my set a little, but other reviews did touch on the darkness, so it’s to be expected. The print is pristine and colors rich and bold, to really bring us into this world. Action scenes had the smoothness I’ve come to expect as well. So, with the dimness taken into account, this transfer should please fans with a 4K system.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Coming in strong is the Dolby Atmos track, which hits the ground running and doesn’t let up. While the film isn’t relentless action, it does pack quite the punch, with the channels all staying active and keeping us involved. I can go on, but this track will rattle some pictures on the wall. Vocals have the expected clarity as well.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- The Horrors of War – This is a six-part documentary that covers pretty much all you can expect. Running just under an hour, this is broken up into six different parts, each covering a particular aspect of the film.
- Creation – Producers J.J. Abrams and Lindsey Weber recount how screenwriter Billy Ray initially approached them with the idea for the film, how it got its start and so forth.
- Death Above – We get a look at the opening sequence (at varying stages of completion) when the planes drop the bombs.
- Death on the Ground – The film is looked at from multiple points of view, both as a war film, but also as a horror film.
- Death Below – As the film progresses, we’re treated to some behind the scenes footage in the most…unusual direction that we’re led down.
- Death No More – This focuses on the film’s third act, the increased tension and tone as well as, you know…zombies.
- Brothers in Arms – This is, essentially, praise for director Julius Avery by various members of the cast and crew.
The Bottom Line
I’ll admit that I enjoyed Overlord a bit more the first time I saw it theatrically, but it remains a solid action/horror flick that delivers the goods. It gives the audience enough of what they expect and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Anyone expecting an accurate history lesson should look elsewhere. This 4K package delivers strong specs and a pretty solid documentary. It should be noted that the transfer is a bit dim, but this is more of how the film was shot, so I don’t fault it for that. Recommended.