Movies

Movie review: “Overlord”

Horror flick set during the eve of D-Day rocks with old-fashioned pulp fiction glee

By Rick Romancito
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 11/9/18

There's something satisfying about seeing a movie about brave American soldiers fighting the Nazi menace during World War II ...

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Movies

Movie review: “Overlord”

Horror flick set during the eve of D-Day rocks with old-fashioned pulp fiction glee

Posted

There's something satisfying about seeing a movie about brave American soldiers fighting the Nazi menace during World War II. That "the greatest generation" is shown taking on this cunning evil over Veteran's Day weekend is also a reminder of what was at stake then, and now.

The movie is called "Overlord," and like the squad of GIs at its core, it appears to have slipped in under the radar, or at least mine anyway.

A while back, though, scuttlebutt was that, since J.J. Abrams was attached as producer, this movie might be part of the Cloverfield universe. As it turns out, it isn't, although if you squint hard enough one could make a case for a slight connection. Don't worry, I won't spoil it for you, but if you're into such things it's a subtlety that also could easily be plausibly denied.

The movie opens on an epic scale. The United States and its allies are in the middle of launching D-Day, the largest land and sea military assault ever committed. Personifying this valiant effort is a platoon aboard a plane heading into the French countryside where their mission awaits.

As they fly above a vast naval armada below, we get to know the characters at the center of this drama: Boyce (Jovan Adepo) is a young African American private who has never killed anything before. Joining him are Tibbet (John Magaro), Chase (Iain De Caestecker), and Rosenfeld (Dominic Applewhite), guys who end up surviving the horrifying parachute jump with their demolitions expert Ford (Wyatt Russell).

Their mission is to blow up a radio installation located in a church. Taking it out will mean keeping the Nazis from communicating news of the invasion and ensuring its success.

Shortly after regrouping, they encounter a civilian woman fleeing Nazi troops. This is Chlöe (Mathilde Ollivier), a woman who lives in the nearby village where the church is located who is sick of being preyed upon for sexual favors by a creepy Nazi officer named Wafner (Pilou Asbeck). She lives there with her sick aunt and her 8-year-old brother Paul (GiannyTaufer). Because she has seen them, they cannot let her go just yet, but the squad manages to convince her to take them to the village.

It’s about this point, they begin to see the first evidence that things are not exactly normal. It turns out that Nazi scientists have set up a secret laboratory where they are conducting experiments to create an ultimate, unstoppable — and unkillable — army. I won’t tell you any more than that, but the mission suddenly has a new prerogative.

“Overlord” is designed with a nod toward old school horror adventure comics with a thoroughly modern cinematic aesthetic, making this an exciting, knuckle-biter adventure all the way to the last frame.

Tempo grade: B+

“Overlord” is rated R for strong bloody violence, disturbing images, language, and brief sexual content.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Also showing in Taos

2001: A Space Odyssey

MPAA rating: G for general audiences

Taos Community Auditorium

Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film, “2001: A Space Odyssey,” was about creation and about the possibility that creation might have gotten a little help along the way. It was also a movie that very carefully told a story the way it should be told, not with the assumption its audience had to see and hear certain things to understand what was going on, but with the assumption they were smarter than that.

We get hints of this deference from the very beginning. The film opens on a desolate veldt far back in time when man was no more than a collection of grunting apes who had only begun developing the roots of social order.

At the mysterious appearance of the first black monolith — its smooth featureless surface a stark contrast to its surroundings measuring a perfect one to four to nine, the squares of the first three integers — the hominid’s curiosity is piqued.

It is that instinctive quality in our nature the makers of the monolith would take note to exploit again far into a future they no doubt could foresee.

Kubick, by way of the original Arthur C. Clark novel on which the film is based, suggests, not overtly states, that the monolith has something to do with the discovery of tools and how to use them. But, because dominant behavior is already ingrained among the hominids, as seen in a previous stand-off at a watering hole, those tools soon become weapons and, in turn, spark violence and murder and help create a new carnivorous food source.

In the most elegant representation of a leap in time, a spinning bone flung into the air during a primitive man’s rage suddenly is matched in a smash cut by a spacecraft’s pirouette as it approaches a space station in orbit above earth to the soundtrack’s enormously civilized strains of “The Blue Danube Waltz” by Richard Strauss. It is the first time in the film there is music.

Here, Kubick is so straightforward in depicting the practicalities of actual spaceflight conspiracy theorists would come up with the ludicrous idea that the director was responsible for faking the actual lunar landing by Apollo 11 in 1969. But, here, in the movie, we see a vision of what a workaday flight to the moon might be like. Unfortunately, that vision would become usurped by politics in the 50 years since, putting on hold what might have been.

“2001: A Space Odyssey” is deservedly called a masterpiece for many reasons. It took a science fiction novel with metaphysical overtones and expressed some of those ideas in a visual form that pushed it beyond a cinematic epic. This, of course, caused and still causes some audiences to exclaim “Huh?” at the final shot, but getting to that point requires a true leap of faith, not unlike wondering what might happen if you reached out and touched an alien object suddenly in your midst.

Incidentally, I first saw this movie on a huge Cinerama screen back in the day. Seeing it on the Big Screen at the TCA sounds pretty close.

Film stars Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester and Leonard Rossiter, with Douglas Rain as the voice of HAL 9000.

This film will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday (Nov. 11) and at 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (Nov. 12-14) at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web

MPAA rating: R for violence, language and some sexual content/nudity.

Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres

Fired from the National Security Agency, Frans Balder (Stephen Merchant) recruits hacker Lisbeth Salander (Claire Foy) to steal FireWall, a computer program that can access codes for nuclear weapons worldwide.

The download soon draws attention from an NSA agent who traces the activity to Stockholm. Further problems arise when Russian thugs take Lisbeth's laptop and kidnap a math whiz who can make FireWall work. Now, Lisbeth and an unlikely ally must race against time to save the boy and recover the codes to avert disaster.

The film is directed by Fede Alvarez and is a reboot of the “Dragon” series. It is loosely based on the fourth novel in the Millennium series, this one by David Lagercrantz, but started by the late author Stieg Larsson.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

The Grinch

MPAA rating: R for violence, language and some sexual content/nudity.

Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres

For their eighth fully animated feature, Illumination and Universal Pictures present “The Grinch,” based on Dr. Seuss' beloved holiday classic.

“The Grinch” tells the story of a cynical grump who goes on a mission to steal Christmas, only to have his heart changed by a young girl's generous holiday spirit. Funny, heartwarming and visually stunning, it's a universal story about the spirit of Christmas and the indomitable power of optimism.

Academy Award® nominee Benedict Cumberbatch lends his voice to the infamous Grinch, who lives a solitary life inside a cave on Mt. Crumpet with only his loyal dog, Max, for company. With a cave rigged with inventions and contraptions for his day-to-day needs, the Grinch only sees his neighbors in Whoville when he runs out of food. Each year at Christmas they disrupt his tranquil solitude with their increasingly bigger, brighter and louder celebrations.

When the Whos declare they are going to make Christmas three times bigger this year, the Grinch realizes there is only one way for him to gain some peace and quiet: he must steal Christmas. To do so, he decides to pose as Santa Claus on Christmas Eve even going so far as to trap a lackadaisical misfit reindeer to pull his sleigh.

Meanwhile, down in Whoville, Cindy-Lou Who (Cameron Seely), a young girl overflowing with holiday cheer, plots with her gang of friends to trap Santa Claus as he makes his Christmas Eve rounds so that she can thank him for helping her overworked single mother. As Christmas approaches, however, her good-natured scheme threatens to collide with the Grinch's more nefarious one. Will Cindy-Lou achieve her goal of finally meeting Santa Claus? Will the Grinch succeed in silencing the Whos' holiday cheer once and for all?

Co-stars the voices of Rashida Jones and Kenan Thompson.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

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