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One Movie Punch

Nov 23, 2018

Hi everyone!

Only one episode today as I want to make sure tomorrow’s guest gets the day to himself on Takeover Tuesday. On Saturday. I know, I know... getting caught up is so confusing! Once that first day without a podcast went by, after 313 consecutive days, and the last one while under evacuation with the smartest of technologies, I began fluctuating between a mounting pressure to start producing right away and, honestly, a bit of relief from the constant grind to maintain this podcast. The second day in the trailer was eerie, after the wind died down, and with that came the heat. We finally got settled in, and got cleaned up with clothes I had bought the day before because I packed everything but clothes. Twenty years of writing, most of which are the only copy, saved. Clothing to survive the elements? Swing and a miss. We had gotten word that the major threats to our homes in the neighborhood had been averted, but air quality was horrible, especially without filtration systems. Getting cleaned up helped a lot, and I knew finally that the podcast could wait, and that yes, a wildfire evacuation was a completely legitimate reason. And with that acceptance, I also started to miss it, just a little bit, and to look forward to getting back to it. Almost as much as I would definitely enjoy a few days off in the process. I felt much better about everything... at least until the wind changed direction again, and the smoke started heading back our way.

More on my adventures next episode. You can hear the start of the story before my review of “Outlaw King” (Episode #314) and “A Prayer Before Dawn” (Episode #315). Let me know if you’re listening by sharing this episode, or just reaching out, with #WelcomeBackOMP. Once we’re back to full speed at the podcast, we’ll be churning out a couple episodes a day to get caught up. I can tell you in getting these first few episodes ready that I really did miss the work.

I didn’t just miss the work, though, but also the many fans I want to thank. Fans like Ryan L. Terry, who reached out quite a few times while I was navigating both evacuation and repopulation. It’s always great to hear from fans and collaborators, because it’s folks like Ryan that make podcasting worth it, especially in the expansive world of #FilmTwitter. If you haven’t yet, you should definitely follow him on social media and check out his blog. It always made me smile to see you check in, and your encouragement mattered a lot in finding the acceptance I talked about earlier, to let it go for a while and focus on what was important. Thank you so much, Ryan! More details on Ryan in the promo, and the review to follow after that.

Today’s movie is “Overlord” (2018), the Bad Robot and Universal Pictures production directed by Julius Avery and written for the screen by Mark L. Smith and Billy Ray, based on a story by Billy Ray. The film follows a group of United States paratroopers who head into Nazi-occupied France to destroy a radio tower. However, while attempting to achieve their objective, the group discovers a much more sinister experiment being conducted by the Nazis, and regroup to face this new horror.

Spoilers ahead.

I’m going to say right off the bat that I gave this film the highest rating I could given the following two factors. First, the entire premise is lifted from the Wolfenstein franchise, or from “Captain America: The First Avenger”, or really, from both, and every World War II film that inspired either property. It is almost the epitome of a derivative film, which brings us to the second factor, and the worst criticism of a derivative film: it breaks no new ground while reworking obvious source material. I was really hoping this film was going to end with B.J. Blazkowicz showing up to work with the survivors, because it would have been a solid ten for me. As it is, well, it’s not that, but it’s still a beautiful film to watch.

“Overlord” has one hell of an opening sequence. We’re launched right into an air raid across enemy lines, with the soldiers tasked with destroying the radio tower, a key objective that will enable the invasion at Normandy to succeed, or so we’re told. Enemy fire damages the plane, however, and the surviving members parachute, with the viewer following Boyce (Jovan Adepo), whom we follow for most of the film. The entire sequence, from the throwback title frames through Boyce dragging himself to safety with the survivors was intense. The film also finishes strong, with a great long-take escape from the Nazi experimental research and radio tower as it was blowing up. Both experiences felt like modern AAA video game titles such as Tomb Raider, Uncharted and Call of Duty: Whatever, especially shots from the first and third person perspectives, and when introducing new locations. It makes me wonder how many more directors will be influenced by the incredible advances in console video games. And it was also further proof of my secret Wolfenstein prequel hypothesis.

Of course, this film isn’t a secret Wolfenstein prequel, no matter how much I would love it to have been. And this film isn’t a Captain America film, even if the Nazi boss and scientist combo are almost mockbuster clones of Red Skull and Arnim Zola. And this film isn’t even really a World War II film, no matter how many “war is hell” scenes and dialogue exchanges we get. It’s really all of those films, and none of those films, pieces of which are blended together, but blended together well, not just with the action scenes, but also with costumes, sets, and definitely the practical and special effects surrounding monster makeup and design. But no matter how well done it may be, it never, ever breaks new ground, and that’s where I was left disappointed, mostly in myself for wanting more than this film had to offer, the curse of the forgiving critic.

“Overlord” (2018) is a fun World War II Zombie film, set behind enemy lines and against everyone’s favorite modern enemy. While it is cobbled together from a number of classic films and franchises, it does so really well, and delivers an enjoyable film, as far as World War II Zombie films go. Fans who don’t mind the subject matter and premise will very likely enjoy this film, but fans of any of the influencing films and properties may wish it was something else. Like a secret Wolfenstein prequel. Okay, I’ll stop now.

Rotten Tomatoes: 81% (CERTIFIED FRESH)

Metacritic: 60

One Movie Punch: 7.0/10

“Overlord” (2018) is rated R and is currently playing in theaters and is definitely not a secret Wolfenstein prequel.