Monday, 10 December 2018

Overlord (2018) - Movie Review was a time when saying that Nazis are bad wouldn’t have been met with so much resistance. There was a time when seeing Captain America punch Hitler in the face wouldn’t have drawn accusations on the artists being SJWs. There was a time when recognising that the Nazis are responsible for some of the greatest atrocities in human history was the least controversial statement a person could make. But it seems that, in an age where white supremacy is a hot-button issue, that time is not now. Many people aren’t exactly happy with this idea, myself included, and that is why this film is such a delightfully demented breath of fresh air.

This film is rife with tropes of the numerous genres it pulls from, from war action to historical drama to sci-fi horror. We got the innocent soldier with a heart of gold in Jovan Adepo’s Private Boyce, we got the war-scarred leader who treats his mission with unwavering intent in Wyatt (son of Kurt) Russell’s Corporal Ford, we got the douchebag that everyone hates and yet it’s somehow difficult not to love him in John Magaro’s Tibbet, and we have the local who has witnessed the horrors of the Nazi invasion first-hand in Mathilde Ollivier’s Chloe. These are familiar archetypes, between with Billy Ray (Secret In Their Eyes) and Mark L. Smith (The Revenant)’s scripting, they take on a life of their own, creating a central group of characters that are well worth investing in.

Then there’s the visuals courtesy of Aussie director Julian Avery and cinematographers Laurie Rose and Fabian Wagner, who wear the film’s vintage setting on their sleeves right from the opening credits. It carries all the muted grunginess of classic war cinema, accompanied by Jed Kurzel’s heart-racing score, which definitely pops next to the outrageous levels of gore on display.

This is a rare occasion of a film actually getting an R18+ rating over here in Australia, and my word, does it look like it. The levels of sheer body horror we’re shown as a result of the Nazis’ scientific experiments range from wince-inducing to gloriously over-the-top and everything in-between. It’d be mighty difficult to make Nazi zombie super-soldiers into something boring, but this certainly puts the effort in to deliver on some old-school exploitation thrills.

The aesthetic as a result of all of this feels like it’s drawing from the Third Reich’s place as one of fiction’s greatest sources for raw villainy, as embodied by Pilou Asbæk as everything fucking vile in the world: A murderer, a conqueror and a rapist, and it’s all too easy to question which order those events take place in where he’s involved. Watching him chew through scenery and get into amazingly-captured throwdowns with our heroes feels reminiscent of the golden days of Captain America, not to mention media like Wolfenstein.

It’s like an attempt to bring back the good ol’ days of war propaganda, where the Nazis weren’t just evil but capable of bending the rules of nature and science in the process like comic book villains. This is what Frank Miller’s Holy Terror should have looked like: Golden Age sensibilities with a Dark Age penchant for all things violent.

But the strangest part about all this? There’s even a deeper point to all of this, beneath the thick layers of viscera. In times of war, or opposing factions who very well could start a war with their antics, there’s a recurring notion that it takes a monster to stop a monster. In order to defeat the enemy, one may be forced to use their own methods against them. It’s a conceit often used to balance out the brutality frequently shown in war cinema, but here, it gets turned somewhat on its head through the eyes of Private Boyce.

A soldier torn from his home by conscription, only comprehending just how dire the situation is once he discovers what the Nazis are really up to in raising their Thousand-Year Army, he is forced to face the eventual result of that mentality. Reducing one’s self to the level of the enemy doesn’t solve the problem; it just creates more of them, and there are some things that no-one should be capable of, let alone try to justify because others are doing the same. It’s the kind of message that is genuinely surprising, considering the film it’s packaged in, but it’s something that could be useful in adhering to. There’s enough monsters in the world; let’s try not to make more of them.

No comments:

Post a Comment