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Review: Overlord – “Like Band of Brothers infected by The Thing”

Overlord is the new feature from J.J. Abrams’ production company Bad Robot (Cloverfield, Super 8) and is written by Billy Ray (The Hunger Games) and directed by Julius Avery. The film also stars Wyatt Russell (21 Jump Street) and you can read our interview with him and Avery here. It also stars Jovan Adepo (Fences), Mathilde Ollivier and Game of Thrones’ Pilou Asbaek.

It’s the eve of D-Day and to lay the groundwork for the allied invasion a team of troops are parachuted in behind enemy lines to destroy a German radio tower atop a church in a small French village.

Things go straight to heck when the plane is strafed by Nazi anti-aircraft fire in a thrilling sequence that sees the film begin by sending your pulse straight through the roof as the soldiers fight for their lives inside the burning fuselage as it plummets into a dark forest full of Axis troops. The whole sequence is mostly done in one take and it is a stunning technical feat that looks and sounds incredible and shows straight away that Overlord means business.

The stoic and most experienced survivor Ford (Russell) takes lead and manages to sneak what’s left of the team – including the greenhorn noob Boyce (Adepo) into the target village under the cover of midnight. Taking cover in the tough no-nonsense Chloe’s (Ollivier) barn, Boyce is sent to recce the radio tower but soon discovers there is something far more sinister going on.

The villainous Wafner (Asbaek) is abducting villagers and doing messed up experiments on them in the basement of the church – trying to engineer super soldiers. Now, as well as trying to stay alive and undiscovered and destroy the tower, our heroes must also wipe out Wafner’s chilling mutants.

The vast majority of the effects in Overlord are clearly practical and the use of prosthetics is not only a joy to see, but makes events all the scarier for actually existing. The monstrous elements of the film are excellent, but Overlord is predominantly a tight and intense men-on-a-mission war film that doesn’t waste a single second of screen time.

Wyatt Russell is great as Ford, a strong and silent type who expands through the course of the film, and newcomer Adepo is definitely one to watch. Asbaek is an extremely intimidating nemesis and his later scenes facing off against Russell crackle with a fierce and furious energy.

Like Band of Brothers infected by The Thing, Overlord is a cracking war movie in its own right, but also with a terrifying and awesome streak of monster movie running through its super tense middle.

Overlord is released in the UK on the 7th of November and you can read our interview with the director and star here.

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