Allied 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
A spy epic directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard should have been the toast of Hollywood upon its release, but as it was, ALLIED ended up coming and going at the theaters without much fanfare. I imagine Pitt’s name alone is enough for this to find an audience on home video, but I think most people are going to walk away from this the same way I did; disappointed.
Max (Pitt) is a Canadian (according to the patch on his uniform) spy recently landing in Casablanca in 1942. He’s ordered to meet up with the French spy Marianne (Cotillard) and together they embark on a mission to assassinate a top German ambassador. After successfully completing their objective, Max asks Marianne to marry him and return with him to England. She agrees and a year later, they have a child and a nice home in England, where everything is fine until Max’s boss tells him Marianne is being accused of being a German spy. Distraught at the thought, Max sets out to clear her name before it’s too late.
The movie really has two halves to it. I loved the first half, which featured a lot of neat spy-action, which I’m always a sucker for. Pitt and Cotillard clicked pretty well as they were working together on their mission and it set up a nice foundation for the film. What I was expecting, and what should have happened, is that they would continue to work together on missions and then Max would learn that his government suspected Marianne of being a spy. This would have been much more exciting as there would have been a tension with every mission as Max would have to look over his shoulder at Marianne, never knowing if he could trust her. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened and screenwriter Steven Knight decided to bring the action to a screeching halt and give Max a desk job while he tries to figure out in a 72 hour window if Marianne is a spy. All the while, Marianne busies herself with normal housewife duties and is removed from the action. This completely killed the pacing and removed what was so good about the first half of the film (the spy action).
Brad Pitt is one of the most charming actors working today, but in ALLIED, Robert Zemeckis has put a muzzle on his charisma. It’s frustrating because ALLIED needed a lot more charm from Pitt since the film could never manage to get the audience to care about Max and Marianne. Marianne kind of became the antagonist (at least in Max’s head) for the second half of the film, yet she was the one that maybe should have had some sympathy, which resulted in conflicting emotions in the audience. Marion Cotillard did a fantastic job in the first half of the film, but like Pitt, was held in check in the second half and wasn’t much more than a prop. Both stars are far too talented to be held in check for over an hour.
ALLIED is an odd film in that it tells a pretty interesting story and has some good performances, but it somehow fails to bring the audience in enough to care about any of the characters. ALLIED has its moments, but never actually clicks enough to make it a great movie. Zemeckis wasted the talents of Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard and probably put too much trust in Steven Knight’s screenplay, which needed at least a couple rewrites before hitting the big screen.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: ALLIED is a beautiful film to look at on any format, but on 4K, it’s mesmerizing. Zemeckis goes overboard with his bright colors and his almost dream-like filming, but the result is a beautiful looking 4K UHD. The dark scenes at night are improved with more detail and better colors thanks to the HDR, but the day scenes will have you gasping. The scene that stood out to me was the very beginning of chapter seven, when Zemeckis is zooming over the street that Max lives on. You can see all the detail in the trees, the buildings and even the branch that sticks out in the foreground. Everyone will have their opinions on the film, but it’s definitely great to look at.
Audio: There were a few scenes that could have made use of a Dolby Atmos track, so I was disappointed we didn’t get one. The DTS track is fine, but it feels like a wasted opportunity.
This title was reviewed using a Samsung UBD-K8500 with a Sony XBR75X850C TV.
The 4K UHD does not contain any exclusive features, but it does include a Blu-ray of the film, which includes the following special features:
Story of Allied (5:13): The crew shows up to talk about how great the story is and it turns out it’s actually loosely based on a true story.
From Stages to the Sahara: Production Design (10:10): The crew talks about how they used stages in place of actual locations, spoken over some cool behind the scenes shots.
Through the Lens: Directing with Robert Zemeckis (8:49): The producer and others talk about how great Robert Zemeckis is and how excited he was to do the film.
A Stitch in Time: The Costumes of Allied (8:40): The name says it all; this featurette looks closer at the costumes used in the film.
Til Death Do Us Part: Max and Marianne (5:52): This featurette looks at the two main characters and how great Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard are in the film.
Guys and Gals: The Ensemble Cast (5:22): Like the featurette above it, this one expands the look to all of the supporting actors.
Lights, Pixels, Action! The Visual Effects of Allied (9:33): Since most of the film was shot on a sound stage, visual effects were very important and this featurette looks at the work put into the effects.
Behind the Wheel: The Vehicles of Allied (3:30): The classic vehicles get a quick featurette that has interviews from Zemeckis and the people involved with managing the cars.
Locked and Loaded: The Weapons of Allied (3:35): Likewise, the weapons get a closer look.
That Swingin’ Sound: The Music of Allied (7:06): We get some nice practice footage of Alan Silvestri arranging his score. He also talks about scoring the film and drawing inspiration for the music. Silvestri and Zemeckis have worked together on 16 films.