‘Overlord is the latest endeavor from sophomore feature film director Julius Avery and is produced by professional fanboy JJ Abrams. Here’s how I imagine their meeting went.
Avery: So, I have an idea for a video game movie.
JJ: Well, we don’t own the rights to any video games, and those movies always suck.
Avery: Yeah but see I play video games.
JJ: OK, well, what video game do you want to base a movie on?
Avery: ALL OF THEM!!!
I’ve heard this film called a mix of action and horror, but that line must have been written by someone who has never touched a video game. As soon as the opening credits start, you are treated to a Call of Duty-esque sequence showing a group of paratroopers about to make a landing in France on the eve of D-Day. The first half of the film, everything from the camera perspective to the use of jump scares, follows an Electronic Arts wartime video game to a T. We meet the plucky soldiers (and say goodbye to the “red shirts”) in slow close-ups that spend just enough time with each one to give you some quirky insight into their backstory.
Of course, this isn’t to video gamey enough, so we need to have the nazis using genetic experiments. The film takes a quick turn and evolves into a live-action Wolfenstein homage, with some solid references to games like Uncharted, the Last of Us, Metal Gear Solid, and general tough guy action games.
It’s not just the plot, it’s the well-timed one-liners, the cinematography, the gruesome special effects, the conveniently placed weapon lockers, the obvious “kick here to open the secret passageway,” and of course, the “final boss,” all of it is reminiscent of something I’ve played before. I could see that the non-gamers in the theater were really confused. I, on the other hand, couldn’t stop smiling from about halfway into the film all the way through the end credits.
Everyone really did a fantastic job in this movie. The entire case rocks. Jovan Adepo takes the lead as “character you will likely pick on the menu screen.” Wyatt Russell stars as “digitized version of Jason Clarke because we couldn’t afford Jason Clarke.” And of course, my favorite, John Magaro as “Italian stereotype with a heart of gold.” I joke, sure, but the cast really does bring these characters to life.
The end result is an incredibly fun and gory romp with a throwback grindhouse feel that will make a lot of nerds smile. Video games have become so cinematic over the years, it’s a mind-blowing experience watching a movie emulate the games that emulated movies. I had a blast and find myself appreciating the film more and more as I write this review. If you’re a kid that’s grown up in the post-Nintendo generation, you’ll definitely get a kick out of this.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have this uncontrollable urge to turn on my PlayStation.
3/5 stars. Must-watch on the big screen for gamers, but should wait til Netflix for those of you that aren’t cool.
Written by: Fernando Martinez