By all accounts, Allied had all the makings of a great film. A grand wartime romance, featuring two luminous stars in the lead roles, it is easy to get swept up in the old Hollywood feel that the film evokes. Therein lies the problem. The film tries so hard to mimic the glamorous look and feel of cinema of the past that it fails to connect on any sort of emotional level.
To truly understand why a film like Allied stumbles one just needs to dive into the bounty of special features on the 4k Ultra HD and Blu-ray combo packs released today courtesy of Paramount Home Media Distribution. In observing the numerous times, and the amount of exuberance director Robert Zemeckis and crew gush over the digitally rendered landscapes, it is easy to see why the film misses the mark. The sense of excitement they express over the visual effects, which range from seamless (the street view of Casablanca) to clunky (love making in a sandstorm), never translates to any sort of tension in the narrative or action sequences.
This is one of the few films where a burning plane heading straight for a family, clinging to a baby in fear no less, evokes nothing more than a ho-hum from the audience.
It is not as if there wasn’t plenty of thrills that could have to extract out of the script. The idea of a Canadian Air Force intelligence Officer, Max Vatan (Brad Pitt), teaming up with a French Resistance fighter, Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard), to assassinate a German ambassador in Morocco, only to fall in love in the process, is an engaging premise. Things get even more complicated when, after settling into married life in the UK, Vatan is advised that Beausejour might be an undercover double agent.
Despite the intriguing premise, Allied never lives up to its full potential. The talented cast tries their best to salvage the film, Matthew Goode’s brief but solid turn as a wounded soldier is wasted, but ultimately cannot overcome the overall flatness of the proceedings. Much like some of the visual effects in the film, Allied feels sterile when it should be exciting.
As I mentioned earlier, there is a surprisingly large number of extras on this disc. While Lights, Pixels, ACTION! The Visual Effects of Allied provides an interesting look at the work needed to get 700 visual effects into the film, the most captivating featurette is A Stitch in Time: The Costumes of Allied. Here we get plenty of insight into the film’s costume design, which received a well-deserved Academy Award nomination, and the ways simply fabric and pattern choices had a major impact on the overall look of the film. If only the film itself had been this invigorating.
Story of Allied
From Stages to the Sahara: The Production Design of Allied
Through the Lens: Directing with Robert Zemeckis
Lights, Pixels, ACTION! The Visual Effects of Allied
‘Til Death Do Us Part: Max and Marianne
A Stitch in Time: The Costumes of Allied
Guys and Gals: The Ensemble Cast
Behind the Wheel: The Vehicles of Allied
Locked and Loaded: The Weapons of Allied
That Swingin’ Sound: The Music of Allied