DVD Review HTF Review: Zodiac

JustinCleveland

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Zodiac
Directed by David Fincher

Studio: Paramount Pictures
Year: 2007
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Running Time: 158 mins
Rating: R
Audio: English 2.0, 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
MSRP: $29.99

Release Date: July 24, 2007
Review Date: July 5, 2007

Released in early 2007, David Fincher’s “Zodiac” was a gem that stood out among and otherwise dull crop of films. Featuring a complex story and stellar, believable cast, and gorgeous visuals “Zodiac” is an excellent cinematic adaptation of the novel that tracked the story of one of the most amazing mysteries in American history.

While the press materials make this out to be Jake Gyllenhaal’s movie—he does portray Robert Graysmith, the man who eventually wrote the book exposing the identity Zodiac’s identity—the truth is that this is an ensemble picture, tracking the impact Zodiac had on a variety of people, from victims to police to reporters covering the story, along with their families. The characters are complex and exposed for the whole world to see, in both their successes and failings. Missteps and devolution to alcoholism is shown alongside great steps in defining Zodiac’s identity. The characters are benefited by a cast of some fantastic actors like Robert Downey Jr. (playing a drunk; method acting) and Mark Ruffalo add a great dynamic to the film as we watch them grow along with the case.

The second half of the film is dedicated to Graysmith’s investigation, and resultantly puts the spotlight on Gyllenhaal, who manages to carry the burden without betraying the essence of the character he plays. Graysmith continues to be a little neurotic and socially awkward, but the audience can clearly see the gears turning in his head as he figures out the puzzle. Gyllenhaal’s performance is the lynchpin during this section, and he does not disappoint.

Fincher manages to impart a sense of the chaos, terror, and confusion of the era, telling a long story by jumping ahead to key moments in the Zodiac chronology. It could have been easy to focus on a small slice of the story and tell one or two instances, but taking on the task of detailing the entire case is an ambitious undertaking, and Fincher pulls it off with class and style. Although the film ambles at times and loses focus, it is all meant to represent the larger theme of confusion borne of these types of murky investigations. Not a hair is out of place, as Fincher continues his streak of extraordinary films.

A complex and thought-provoking thriller that questions police procedure and the roe of the press in murder investigations, “Zodiac” is a great film. Created in the vein of “Hollywoodland,” “Zodiac” manages to thrill, engage, and challenge its audience to great success.

Video:
On par with any high definition product, this 2.35:1 Anamorphic transfer is simply stunning. I saw the film projected theatrically on its first screening, and I don’t know that it looked any better on film than it does on my home theater. Flawless video quality. Much of the film is shot in low, natural lighting and still fine details are visible and nothing gets obscured that wasn’t meant to be so.

Audio:
Like the video on this new release, there can be found no fault with the audio track. The 5.1 Dolby Digital experience is immersive, sound coming from every channel and a deep, rich bass accenting the musical score. Dialogue is crisp and clean.

Extras:
And herein lies the rub. There are two extras on this disc: the first being an advertisement for a director’s cut packed with extras in 2008. The second being a trailer for the forthcoming “Perfume,” which is released on the same day.

Overall:
I really enjoyed “Zodiac” in the theaters and was looking forward to revisiting it. On second viewing it did not disappoint. If you only want the film in a quality presentation, you will be hard-pressed to do better than this single-disc set. I cannot say a bad thing about the film or presentation. Fans would be advised to hold onto their cash and pick up the upcoming collector’s edition.
 

JonZ

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My favorite film of the year so far.

"There are two extras on this disc: the first being an advertisement for a director’s cut packed with extras in 2008"

ARGH!
 

Lord Dalek

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Typical Fincher, double dipping his own movie before it even makes it to stores.
 

TravisR

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It's hardly a surprise. I'd rather see them take their time and do a great set over slapping some featurettes and a commentary on a disc and calling it a special edition so that it gets out by the release date.

This movie is a rare case of actually being worth buying twice.
 

Dave B Ferris

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Justin, I think the release date and review date were inadvertently transposed.
 

JustinCleveland

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Fixed, thanks Dave.


Yeah, when I cued up the disc and saw no "special features" and only "Previews" I knew what was going on. Doesn't mean I was not disheartened, however. I loved this movie and only want one definitive version.
 

TravisR

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Like I said before though, would you rather wait and eventually get a defintive version or would you rather have them quickly put something together to make the window that the DVD has to come out in?

Besides you're a reviewer, you got it for free.
 

Christian Preischl

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I'm surprised at the 2008 date for the SE. I could have sworn this would be released with the HD versions in September. Or have these been delayed as well?
 

Richard Michael Clark

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I reckon the SE will be timed to coincide with the Oscars and the other awards during the season as there's still a chance that this film could (and by rights, should) be up for some MAJOR ones!
 

donnie_d

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BY FAR, the best experience i've ever had at the movies,i didn't even expect to.

Fight Club has been my favorite movie of all time for years now.take it from someone who worships Se7en and Fight Club,Zodiac IS better on EVERY level.too bad,although the critics loved it,it got cold reception from the general crowd.

it will definitly find its audience but from the look of things,it will be Fincher's best and most misunderstood underrated masterpiece,much more like "Munich".i say give Fincher his oscar and i will die a happy man.

god i can't wait to see it again.
 

Reggie W

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Yes, I liked this film quite a bit. The thing that really hooked me at first was the whole 70's vibe of the picture. It is mainly set in that decade and the approach to filming it reminded me of the style of "The French Connection" or "The Seven-Ups."

I will probably wait to get the director's cut in 2008. I'm not as big a Fincher fan as some people. I liked Se7en, also for the 70's vibe in that film but Fight Club to me is a bit overrated. It's certainly an interesting film and visually very good looking but it seems to me Fincher has a real knack for gritty mysteries and policiers.

I should note also that the acting in this film is outstanding. Downey is a very impressive actor these days and if you look over his resume has done some great work. The rest of the cast all do a great job too.

One funny bit about the Ruffalo character is that the cop he plays was the cop Steve McQueen spent time with for the filming of Bullitt. Just found that an interesting piece of trivia. I loved how he was always looking for his animal crackers.
 

MatthewLouwrens

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Right from the opening, with the painted Paramount logo, you could tell that was what they were going for. To my eye the film even looked like it was shot on the same film stock as was used back then. Beautiful.

I'm currently reading the two books, Zodiac and Zodiac Unmasked, that they used in the film, and they're really good books. Fascinating, and obviously a lot more detail than they could get into a 3-hour movie. If you liked the film, they're worth getting.
 

MarkBirds

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I just may double-dip on this one. I'd have no reservations if there was some sort of rebate deal promised, but this flick was so good, I know I'll watch it a couple of times before next year.

If you haven't read the book, by all means, do so.
 

David Prior

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Before you all get too bent out of shape about the staggered release dates of the vanilla and the director's cut, you should be aware that it was only reluctantly agreed to by Fincher because I needed more time on the bonus material. The studio was locked into their release date (and bound and determined to release a single-disc, which nobody except them wanted), so Fincher allowed that to be released first.

It had nothing to do with Fincher "double dipping his own movie before it even makes it to stores" and everything to do with buying more time for the special edition.

Hope that clears things up. In the interests of full disclosure, you should also know that the theatrical cut will only be available on the single disc.

Cheers.
 

Yumbo

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Thanks David,

Why the delay on the HD, if the edition will be same as DVD?
Paramount experimenting with release dates again, expecting us to buy both if we can't wait?
 

David Prior

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The reason they gave me had to do with the technical difficulties of creating HD discs. They were immovable on the July date, and knowing the unforgiving tolerances of HD right now, I tend to believe them.
 

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Thanks for the updates, David. I look forward to owning the Blu-ray in September and hopefully an HD release of the Director's Cut next year. If no HD of the Director's Cut, then I'll definitely get the SD.
 

Colin Jacobson

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So it's YOUR fault!!!


I don't think anyone should be upset about the delay. At least we know in advance that a special edition is coming - IMO, there shouldn't be any griping about "double-dipping" in these circumstances...
 

Reggie W

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I have not read the entire Graysmith book, just bits and pieces but I have read a considerable amount about the Zodiac killer. I always found the story to be very suited for film and when I heard Fincher was doing it I thought that was a great match. It is a wonderful production in terms of how it approaches the story and covers all the bases. If you are not familiar with the Zodiac killer this film will bring you up to speed. I like that Fincher approached it that way and not only told the story but laid out the details. It's very well done and hats off to Mr. Fincher. The detail probably makes the film a bit too dense for some tastes but I think that makes it a film you can watch again and again. I look foward to his cut of the film that is coming in 2008 and I hope there is plenty of extra material to draw from. It would seem that the team that made this really did their homework.
 

ZacharyTait

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After reading above that the theatrical cut will only be available on the single-disc edition, I think I'm going to pre-order a used copy from my local video store for $10. I know that sounds weird, but my Eye on Video store lets you pick up a used copy of a DVD the Saturday after its released for $9.99.
 

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