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Allied: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD Review

Allied (2016) movie poster Allied

Theatrical Release: November 23, 2016 / Running Time: 125 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Robert Zemeckis / Writer: Steven Knight

Cast: Brad Pitt (Max Vatan), Marion Cotillard (Marianne Beausιjour), Jared Harris (Frank Heslop), Simon McBurney (S.O.E. Official), Lizzy Caplan (Bridget Vatan), Daniel Betts (George Kavanagh), Matthew Goode (Guy Sangster), Camille Cottin (Monique), August Diehl (Hobar), Thierry Frιmont (Paul Delamare)

Buy Allied from Amazon.com:
4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD • Blu-ray + Digital HD • DVD • Instant Video

There isn't a whole lot that unifies Robert Zemeckis' nearly 40-year
directing filmography, but most of his films, from Back to the Future to Forrest Gump to Flight, have made prominent use of visual effects. In subtle ways, Allied does too, though this World War II spy drama is different from the crowd-pleasing blockbusters most of his movies can be described as.

The film opens in Morocco in 1942 with Canadian intelligence officer Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) parachuting down in the desert. He is picked up and driven to meet his wife Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard). Obviously, the two are not really married; they haven't even met before. Max is posing as a Parisian phosphate miner, whom Marianne's friends are surprised to learn really exists. They pose as a couple, she helping him with his accent, while plotting to assassinate Germany's ambassador in Casablanca at an exclusive dinner.

Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard) and Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) stay cool and look sharp while plotting some spy action in "Allied."

While playing married, Max and Marianne really do fall for one another, feelings they first act upon in a car in the middle of a sandstorm. Before leaving, Max invites Marianne to join him back in London, where he is stationed. When she finally receives clearance to do so, they are married and soon after welcome a daughter.

All seems to be well for the family of three, until Max is called in by stealthy superiors and asked to discover if their suspicions are correct and that Marianne is a really a German spy who assumed a Frenchwoman's identity. Max is stunned by even the suggestion of that, but he is obligated to carry out their "blue dye" operation as ordered to test his wife's allegiances.

With that twist, the original screenplay by the UK's Steven Knight (Eastern Promises, Locke, Dirty Pretty Things) assumes a Hitchcockian tone. Zemeckis knows just how to present that material, repeatedly managing to generate suspense from Max looking into the seemingly unthinkable and hoping it's one big mistake.

Max's (Brad Pitt) domestic happiness is put in doubt when he has to perform a blue dye test to determine if his wife is actually a German spy.

Zemeckis is actually comfortable with all of the film, even if it's clearly outside his not so easily defined wheelhouse.
The period European production design is terrific, as is the cinematography by Don Burgess, who has worked on a number of past Zemeckis films. The visual effects aren't designed to grab your attention or drop your jaw, but a crashing aircraft, a sky full of fighter jets, and that opening parachute drop all require post-production work that is as deft as every Zemeckis film has been for its time.

But Allied is more striking for its human drama than for its technical achievements. Knight's story is the star and it's one that draws characteristically good performances from Pitt, Cotillard, and the peripheral support, from third-billed Jared Harris in a few good scenes to Simon McBurney and Matthew Goode, who each impress in single scenes. You're moved by the compelling story and characters first and foremost, while all the cinematic achievement sneaks past your notice, welcoming appreciation only later.

Opening in theaters on Thanksgiving Eve, Allied seemed like an awards movie on paper. It does fit a conventional awards mold, inviting comparison to films like Atonement and The English Patient. But it lacked the sizzle and buzz of the season's rawer dramas like Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea. With the exception of Forrest Gump, Zemeckis' films have mostly settled for technical recognition and only the infrequent acting nod. Allied didn't buck tradition, picking up a single Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design while Paramount had Arrival and Fences competing for a bunch of major awards.

Allied also failed to draw enough respect from critics to justify its release during Hollywood's intelligent, serious movie season. The mixed reviews made it struggle to find an audience across such obvious attractions as Doctor Strange, Fantastic Beasts, and Moana. Grossing just $40 million domestic and $119 M worldwide on an $85 M production budget, the movie became Zemeckis' second flop in as many falls, following the commercially disastrous (yet terrific) The Walk. That's quite a change for a filmmaker whose directing resume is full of blockbusters and hits.

Two days after losing its only Oscar bid to Fantastic Beasts, Allied hit stores on DVD, Blu-ray, and the 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD edition reviewed here.

Allied: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com 4K Ultra HD & Blu-ray Disc Details

2.40:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish, Portuguese, Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-66 & BD-50)
Suggested Retail Price: $49.99
Also available as Blu-ray + Digital HD ($39.99 SRP), DVD ($29.99 SRP), and Amazon Instant Video
Black Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover


Robert Zemeckis movies are never less than proficient technically and though Allied is a little different and more old-fashioned than the director's other work, it's still a showcase of fine picture and sound, whether viewed in 4K or plain old Blu-ray. The 2.40:1 picture and DTS sound leave nothing to be desired.

Costume design, the only area where "Allied" drew an Oscar nomination, is one of eleven topics given a making-of featurette on Blu-ray. Artistic concept art is seen in the featurette on production design.


Blu-ray is the only format you'll find extras on.
It is there you'll encounter eleven topical making-of featurettes that can be viewed individually or with a "Play All" option that turns them into a 1-hour, 7-minute, 54-second documentary. The piece starts with story and moves to such subjects as the locations, direction, the costumes, the cast, the visual effects, the vehicles, and the music. It is thorough, well-produced, and probably more in-depth than the typical viewer may want.

Though Allied's trailer is nowhere to be found, the Blu-ray does open by trying (and sometimes succeeding) to stream some trailers for other current Paramount properties.

The menu simply lays dramatic score over a still shot of Pitt and Cotillard calmly walking away from an explosive scene (which is adapted from the bottom of the cover art).

The black 4K and blue Blu-ray share a black keepcase with a digital HD insert. The case is topped by a glossy slipcover reproducing the same artwork below.

Max (Brad Pitt) and Marianne (Marion Cotillard) prepare to ruin a fancy dinner with a bit of carefully staged assassination.


A well-made throwback, Allied doesn't generate enough excitement to stand among last year's best, which as a Thanksgiving week opening, it was kind of expected to do. But Robert Zemeckis always delivers a polished production and this one does enough right to warrant seeing. Paramount's 4K edition boasts the highest quality picture and sound around plus over an hour of substantial extras. This is worth the look that not many gave it in theaters.

Buy Allied from Amazon.com:
4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD / Blu-ray + Digital HD / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
New to Disc: Arrival • Manchester by the Sea • Hacksaw Ridge • Moonlight • The Edge of Seventeen • Tanna
Directed by Robert Zemeckis: The Walk • Flight • Forrest Gump • Used Cars • A Christmas Carol • Who Framed Roger Rabbit • Beowulf
Brad Pitt: Fury • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button • Killing Them Softly • The Big Short • World War Z
Marion Cotillard: Rust and Bone • The Immigrant • Two Days, One Night • The Dark Knight Rises • Nine • Contagion • Midnight in Paris
Written by Steven Knight: Dirty Pretty Things • Eastern Promises • Burnt • The Hundred-Foot Journey • Pawn Sacrifice
The Light Between Oceans • The Imitation Game • Bridge of Spies

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Reviewed March 5, 2017.

Text copyright 2017 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2016 Paramount Pictures, Huahua Media, and GK Films, 2017 Paramount Home Entertainment.
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