REVIEW: Overlord (2018)

Directed by: Julius Avery
Cast: Wyatt Russell, Pilou Asbæk, John Magaro

Written by Lucy Buglass

As someone who isn’t much of a war film fan, I was apprehensive about Overlord. I often find war films quite repetitive in nature, and they’ve never really appealed to me. So when I was kindly invited to a press screening on behalf of JUMPCUT, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I tried not to set my expectations too high, but as a J.J. Abrams fan, I was interested to see what he’d brought to the table as a producer. Maybe a blend of war and horror is exactly what I needed.

Straight away, the thing that stood out to me was the quality of the sound, especially in a cinema setting. If you’re able to, I would absolutely recommend you catch Overlord on the big screen because of it. The film opens with soldiers on a plane, and the deafening booms of bombs combined with the roar of the plane really puts you right in the middle of the action. This sequence is one of the most immersive experiences I’ve ever had. You’re forced to witness the horrors of war straight off the bat and identify with the soldiers’ point of view. Later on in the film, this excellent use of sound really adds to the suspense and makes for a truly uncomfortable experience.

After loving Wyatt Russell in Black Mirror, I was looking forward to his performance in particular, but the whole cast really delivered. Each solider is believable, flawed, and different in their personality to the point where you feel like you’re there with them. The character development throughout is excellent, and no one feels two-dimensional or glossed over. This is one of the problems I have with war films, that sometimes everyone seems to blend into one group and no one is easily distinguishable. With Overlord, every character has both purpose and a personality; something I thoroughly enjoyed. The characters that the soldiers encounter along the way are treated exactly the same too, and it’s nice to see secondary characters being treated with respect.

If you’re a fan of gory special effects, this is one to watch for sure. When it finally becomes clear to us what’s going on, and dark secrets are revealed, it is a terrifying experience. It’s best you go into it not knowing any more than that, as it would be a shame to have it spoiled. What I can say, is that the effects are nightmare inducing and reminiscent of many body horror films. The rest you need to witness for yourself. I’ve seen my fair share of gruesome stuff, but this really stood out to me. Overlord deserves recognition for its visual effects alone, they are a welcome addition to the horror genre.

Overall, Overlord is a smart film that blends war and horror together effortlessly, resulting in a truly terrifying experience. I’m unsure how it’ll translate on my TV after experiencing it on such a large-scale, but I am certainly up for watching it again to see what it’s like. It’s a very entertaining couple of hours that are action-packed and gruesome throughout.

 

Lucy’s Verdict

3-5

Final ‘Overlord’ Trailer Promises A Bloody Good Time

“With only hours until D-Day, a team of American paratroopers drop into Nazi-occupied France to carry out a mission that’s crucial to the invasion’s success. Tasked with destroying a radio transmitter atop a fortified church, the desperate soldiers join forces with a young French villager to penetrate the walls and take down the tower. But, in a mysterious Nazi lab beneath the church, the outnumbered G.I.s come face-to-face with enemies unlike any the world has ever seen. From producer J.J. Abrams, Overlord is a thrilling, pulse-pounding action adventure with a twist.”

Directed by: Julius Avery

Cast: Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Pilou Asbæk, John Magaro, Mathilde Ollivier

Release Date: October 25th, 2018

‘Mission: Impossible’ Retrospective: Part 1

Written by Sam Comrie

The year is 2003. Action figures and the weekly catch up of Jackie Chan Adventures are the fuel to my young imagination. However, the biggest contributor to fuelling my playground adventures and hours in the garden: Movies. Cut to the summer of ’03 and my brother suggests watching something to help deal with the sweltering heat outside.

Then it happened. As if the orange hue of the cover was radiating from the other side of the living room. The slick black shades protecting a hero engulfed in glowing flames. “Let’s watch Mission: Impossible II” my brother declares.

Cut to present day and Mission: Impossible is still one of my favourite franchises. With the impending release of Fallout looming, I thought it was time to look back at the franchise and its evolution since its 1996 debut.

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Viewed by many as alternative to the long established James Bond franchise, the thrills and splendour of Mission: Impossible offer a taste of pure blockbuster spectacle that is arguably unmatched in the current climate of popcorn cinema. That’s not even a detriment to the franchise, as these films have recognised there is nothing wrong with offering the audience a high octane popcorn experience. Where Mission: Impossible succeeds since finding its feet, is balancing those explosions with a tightly woven plot that gives you prime cuts with the trimmings cut off. However, the future wasn’t always so clear for Cruise’s beloved adventures.

Adapting a popular TV show from the 1960’s is one thing. Bringing in renown Hitchcock enthusiast and auteur Brian De Palma to helm a Cruise vehicle is another. A director applauded for his unique sense of  lust, obsession and voyeuristic looks into questionable acts maybe isn’t the first person that comes to mind when thinking of a Tom Cruise actioner. In retrospective, it was the perfect start.

Containing the first 50 minutes almost exclusively to a soirée and an apartment rigged for intrusion, De Palma focuses his lens on a team that is literally dying in the cold. Now that the blood is washed on Cruise’s hands, its time to get even.

It would be a crime if I didn’t mention THAT iconic sequence. Yes, the CIA heist is an all timer sequence that showed us the first inklings of how this franchise could offer tension mission from mainstream blockbusters. Every time Jean Reno drops his knife from that laser sealed vent, my heart will still skip a beat without fail.

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With a new franchise coming out of the rough, it’s not a surprise that a ropey journey behind the scenes was reported. Entering the production with barely anything on a page, it was up in the air whether De Palma’s foray into star vehicles would work. The original TV show cast lauded the movie for it’s treatment of their characters, especially Jim Phelps (portrayed by Jon Voight). The script was ripped apart and some of the cast reportedly walked out of their private screening.

All the chips were down leading up to release day.

Mission: Impossible was released in May of 1996, to considerably mixed reviews, aimed mostly at its convoluted plot. Nonetheless, this didn’t stop them dead in their tracks. Going on to spawn $457.7 million in it’s box office run, it was clear that there was audience interest in the clandestine panorama of espionage that was Mission: Impossible.

There was room to improve, to refine and tweak what Mission: Impossible could aspire to be as the growing ideal of what mainstream action cinema should be.

Back to the slick sunglasses. De Palma passed on the opportunity to return and Tom Cruise knew exactly where he wanted to find his next director. He found that director in heroic bloodshed legend and pioneer, John Woo (Hard Boiled, The Killer, A Better Tomorrow)

Woo had left his mark on the Hong Kong action scene and had made his move into the Hollywood market with freedom with his 1997 cult classic, Face/Off. Cruise was clearly impressed with Woo’s CV and approached Paramount to get Mission: Impossible II off the ground. Before the cameras even began rolling, there was already a spy making waves once more in cinemas. Pierce Brosnan was riding high on the success of his James Bond entries in 1995 and 1997, releasing another in 1999 (a whole year before Mission: Impossible II was released into the world).

When Goldeneye impressed Bond fans and audiences alike in 1995 before the first M:I exploded onto screens, it was clear that a new era of Bond was in motion to ward off competitors. Woo and the production combo of Cruise / Wagner were determined to show audiences that Ethan Hunt was here to stay. Production began in April of 1999 and concluded in December of the same year. It was rumoured that Woo’s initial cut was around three and a half hours; way over the studio mandate.

With this cut trimmed down to just over two hours, Mission: Impossible II was John Woo’s action sandbox, with Cruise as his player one. Doves included. This was also the instalment to light the fuse on Cruise’s desire to risk his life onscreen for our entertainment. As it has become clear over the years, Cruise is now a versatile jack of all trades when it comes stunt work.

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Originally the vertigo inducing reintroduction of Ethan was supposed to be handled by qualified professionals; but Cruise picked up the required skillsets to handle the sequence himself with minimal stunt double insert shots. This was all Paramount needed to push the marketing campaign. Ethan Hunt wasn’t just coming back; he was literally ascending back into frame.

Looking back on Mission: Impossible II all these years later, it really does appear to me as the estranged entry. Trading a paranoid undercover operative for a suave playboy spy is an almost startling concept transitioning into the second film. Cruise discards most shreds of humanity for a persona of wit, brawn and machoism. It’s evident that the success of a new Bond was looming over the production and its influence was bleeding into the celluloid.

I would go as far to say that Mission: Impossible II is much more of an embodiment of a “standalone” entry, that a continuation of the themes or ideas presented prior. Even with Bond’s shadow over the production, that isn’t to say that Woo didn’t present audiences with a blockbuster devoid of any identity. Mission: Impossible II is first and foremost a JOHN WOO production. Every Woo-ism you’ve come to expect is on show, with an extra dose of slow motion to drink it all down with.

The second half is where Woo really gets to shine. Gorgeous wide shots decorate grin inducing action sequences, while Hans Zimmer’s score soars over the bullets. Crash zooms make an appearance, most notably in the excellent compound sabotage sequence in the third act, as flames reflect terror in Dougray Scott’s iris.

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Unfortunately, Woo’s stylistic prowess wasn’t enough to overcome Paramount’s trimming to make a more commercially viable summer package. Upon its release in July of 2000, again amongst varied responses, audiences made it clear that Cruise’s espionage escapades were making an impression on them.

Bringing back $565,400,000 and claiming the “highest grossing film of 2000” top spot, the doors were open for Ethan Hunt’s next mission.

Fast forward six years and an absence of Ethan Hunt. Cruise would go to star in Michael Mann’s thriller Collateral, two Spielberg productions and another Cameron Crowe experiment in the time before another Mission film was on the table. Various directors would come on board to helm the third entry, including David Fincher and cast members Scarlett Johansson, Carrie-Anne Moss and Kenneth Branagh in the mix. After Joe Carnahan left in July of 2004, the directors seat was up in the air once more. Johansson, Moss and Branagh would leave due to the continuing production delays. Cruise would happen to come across a saving grace in his spare time.

With his experience primarily in the TV circuit from Alias and the beginnings of Lost making an impression, J.J Abrams was recruited personally by Cruise to make feature film debut with Mission: Impossible III. June 8th of 2005 saw Paramount Pictures green light the production with a fresh cast on board. It was time to light the fuse once more. Just a month later and cameras would start rolling on July 12th.

Mission: Impossible III would be the first instalment to add a globetrotting element to the franchise, with locations such as Shanghai, Berlin and Rome displaying a renewed sense of exploration in Ethan Hunt’s race against the clock. Gone were the affectations of Bond and a new adrenaline filled formula was injected directly into the heart of the action. Sharper cuts and spiralling Steadicam shots made sure we were packed tightly into the frame, avoiding the aftermath of spies doing what they do best. Dan Mindel makes the frame pop with vibrancy and texture.

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With the advent of Jason Bourne in the market and a new dawn of how action was been perceived, it’s clear that the team on M:I III were already retrofitting new trends for their own gain. Out of all the instalments, M:I III is a whirlwind when its come to set pieces. From the head daze of the Berlin extraction or the militant precision of the bridge battle, these set pieces were paving the way for this franchise to realize its true potential. It wasn’t just the spectacle that was getting a makeover either.

What happens when a spy goes home? Do they even have a home to go back to? Abrams decided to explore just that, as we finally get to know what makes Ethan tick behind all the rubber masks. While the stakes maybe aren’t as potent as the film has aged, the risk of taking time to slow it down to mundane aspects of normal life are commendable for a franchise that was still assuming an identity.

Thankfully, an identity is exactly what was gained. Mission: Impossible finally knew what it could be = succinct espionage beats and awe inspiring set pieces. No facades of Bond or any other IP in the mix. What is a hero’s journey without a villain though?

While Jon Voight was serviceable and Dougray Scott was somewhat more impressionable (probably down to his method of nail clipping), the M:I films were still waiting for a villain to leave a mark. Enter the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Leaving someone else’s mouth, the dialog for Owen Davian would have fell flat without a doubt. When that cold open introduces us to an unfamiliar scenario of Ethan in peril and Hoffman’s cold gaze dominating the frame, you know it’s time to buckle in.

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The pieces were in place to solidify a turning point where Ethan Hunt was ready to be a household name in the spy business.

Mission: Impossible III dropped into cinemas in May of 2006, becoming another commercial success. Despite making less than its predecessor ($397.8 million), the new era of M: I was a critical success that garnered much more favourable reviews than what had come before. Cruise and co. weren’t out of matches yet.

‘Mission: Impossible’ Retrospective: Part 2

Coming Soon! 

Why We Need Star Trek In A Star Wars World

Written by Gillian Finklea

Going to see the latest installment in the ‘Star Trek’ series has become a weird ritual for me, that I look forward to more with each passing movie. It’s a fictional universe I have no deep relationship with, having never watched the many television versions or any of the movies made before J.J. Abrams rekindled the franchise. Truth be told, my favorite ‘Star Trek’ movie is probably ‘Galaxy Quest’. And yet, I am actually giddy each time a new movie comes out, because this new ‘Star Trek’ series is wonderful and is only getting better. It is a compelling and fun exploration of what our relationship to space could be in the future, along with excellent characters and exciting action set-pieces. However, my happiness is dashed when I realise that very few will ever experience ‘Star Trek’ in this sense — because of a little juggernaut called ‘Star Wars’.

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Star Trek 4 May See A Familiar Face Return

At the start of ‘Star Trek’ (2009), George Kirk bravely sacrificed himself to save the lives of his crew, his wife and his newborn son, thus writing himself into Starfleet – and Trekkie – history. Most of us quite logically assumed that would be the one and only time we’d ever see George Kirk in this series – his work was done and Chris Hemsworth, the actor who brought George to life, has gone on to become a huge star. But this is ‘Star Trek’, so perhaps we should have known better.

Whilst out promoting the latest film in the franchise, ‘Star Trek Beyond’, J.J. Abrams let slip that plans are afoot for ‘Star Trek 4’ (or 14 if you prefer), as well as hinting that Chris Hemsworth would be returning. Just in case any of us thought he was simply messing with us, Paramount Pictures quickly backed him up with an official confirmation: Yes, there will be another film in the Kelvin timeline, and yes, Chris Hemsworth will indeed reprise his role as George Kirk.

While this is good news for fans of George Kirk and/or Chris Hemsworth, it does really beg the question of how? There are actually a number of ways this can work that could be plucked from Trek lore, but the most likely candidate is probably time travel. It’s a plot device that has been used successfully before in both the TV shows and the films, and it would be a nice subtle nod to the fourth film in the Prime timeline. Are you happy with the direction the franchise may be heading? Let us know in the comments below.

Written by Emma Ditchburn

Gugu Mbatha-Raw Rumoured For Star Wars Role

You may be focussing all your attention on ‘The Force Awakens’ right now, and we can’t blame you. With all the hype surrounding J.J Abrams’ addition to the franchise, it’s quite possible you will have missed the news that ‘Star Wars: Episode VIII’ has reportedly landed on a leading lady. 

After previous frontrunners for the role, Tatiana Maslany and Olivia Cooke signed onto other projects which would clash with filming for Rian Johnson’s ‘Star Wars’ effort, it has emerged that Gugu Mbatha-Raw has all but signed on the dotted line. After appearing in sci-fi flop ‘Jupiter Ascending’, we’re sure Mbatha-Raw would relish the chance to star opposite Benicio del Toro in this iconic series.

Written by Jakob Lewis Barnes

Star Wars Updates

Star Wars fans must be feeling really wookie, I mean lucky, right now, after StarWars.Com released information regarding TWO upcoming projects. In addition to ‘The Force Awakens’, due for release later this year, fans can now expect Star Wars instalments in 2016 and 2017.

Gareth Edwards will helm the first spinoff feature, scheduled for release on December 16th 2016. Starring ‘The Theory Of Everything’ leading lady, Felicity Jones, the project now has a name too; ‘Rogue One’. Star Wars officials labelled ‘Rogue One’ as “the first film in a unique series of big-screen adventures that explores the characters and events beyond the core” of the original saga.

You may still be bursting with excitement at the prospect of ‘The Force Awakens’, but compose yourself and get your diary out. Because the sequel to J.J. Abrams’ Episode VII already has its own sequel in the pipeline. Scheduled to arrive in theatres May 26th 2017, Episode VIII will be written and directed by Rian Johnson, the man who brought us ‘Looper’.

A galaxy far, far, away just got a lot closer.

Written by Jakob Lewis Barnes

Force Awakens Earlier Than Expected?

Reports circulating today seem to suggest that J.J Abrams is keen to bring forward the release date of ‘Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens’, scrapping the December release in favour of a summer drop. The logistics of this move are in question however, from a production point of view, to bring forward the film by six months is no mean feat. Add to this the blockbuster summer of cinema releases we already have lined up, including ‘Age Of Ultron’ and ‘Jurassic World’, big competition indeed. Nevertheless, the prospect of the force awakening a little early is very exciting news. Read more here.