SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Overlord, in theatres now.
In early trailers, Paramount's Overlord promised fans a different spin on World War II. It wasn't just about aerial warfare or the Allies fighting the Axis in typical ground battles; the movie also teased a lot of bloodshed between Nazi-zombies and the American paratroopers looking to take down the science lab at which they were being reanimated.
Well, Julius Avery's film delivers on one account, as there are Eli Roth-levels of violence and gore. But in terms of unleashing hordes of zombies, Overlord falls way short.
The movie features more of the zombies being created than in actual action, which is disappointing since they're legitimate scene-stealers in the limited screen time they have. We understand Avery wants to build the mystique behind them to avoid coming off too similar to, say, Dawn of the Dead, or any other movie from the George Romero-inspired franchise or its contemporaries.
At some point, though, you'd think a zombie film would have, y'know, floods of monsters wreaking havoc!
While these zombies move swiftly and are as rabid as any fan would like, they have other characteristics that make them intriguing. Each zombie is unique from the next due to mutations in the reanimation process, which make abominations that are varied in everything, from their looks to their appetites.
This gives the true feel of an army of darkness. In fact, they come off more as smaller versions of the Abomination from Louis Letterier's The Incredible Hulk, which makes for a more high-octane ride, as opposed to the slow crawl of The Walking Dead's undead.
And yet, we only get two action sequences with Overlord's zombies; the first being when Private Boyce (Jovan Adepo) altruistically tries to use the Nazis' revival formula on a dead comrade, Chase (Iain De Caestecker), turning him into an undead mutant. The second occurs when Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier) -- the French woman helping the Allies infiltrate the lab -- fights off a zombie that's basically a bloodthirsty super-soldier on the loose as she tries to find her lost brother.
Sadly, as sweet as these scenes are, they're all too short, leaving us wondering why Avery is holding back on the monsters, in a move like we saw in Jaws or Gareth Edwards' Godzilla. At this point, if you're thinking the finale will unleash them in all their glory, well, those expectations are quickly cut short as the payoff never comes.
The zombies aren't released from their holding cells for an epic finale, and although Boyce's leader, Corporal Ford (Wyatt Russell), does take on the main villain at the end, Dr. Wafner (Pilou Asbaek), as mutated and monstrous as he is, is not a zombie.
To make things worse, when Wafner finally summons his zombie army -- a group of elite soldiers the film spends quite a lot of time teasing us with -- Ford puts an end to it instantly. This particular squadron of the undead never even get to throw a punch or attempt a bite, as Ford kills them all in the blink of an eye.
Due to its lack of zombies, Overlord may leave many fans feeling cold. Not even bullets through the brain were stopping these creatures, so having our protagonists take them on would certainly have crafted a finale that would have pushed the Allies to their limits.
People came to see zombies in their element, running through towns, churches and forests, eating soldiers; but ultimately, Overlord decided to focus more on Nazi politics. In doing so, less spotlight was placed on the undead, while the movie created a feeling of wasted potential for the genre.
Directed by Julius Avery from a script by Billy Ray and Mark L. Smith, Overlord, starring Jovan Adepo, John Magno, Wyatt Russell, Bokeem Woodbine, Pilou Asbaek, Jacob Anderson and Iain De Caestecker, is in theatres now.