Zero Days (2016)

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Released 5-Apr-2017

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Madman Propaganda x 4
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2016
Running Time 108:57 (Case: 111)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Alex Gibney
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring




Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Will Bates


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

†††† Zero Days is by Alex Gibney, a prolific writer / director who won the best documentary Oscar for Taxi to the Dark Side (2007) and was also nominated for Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2006). In Zero Days he turns his attention to cyber warfare, in particular a secret computer virus named Stuxnet created by the US and Israel secret services.

†††† Stuxnet came to light in 2010 when cyber security companies across the world, in Belarus, Germany and the US, discovered a computer virus that was so sophisticated and powerful they concluded that the malware could only have been written by a government, or governments. The target and the purpose of the malware was originally unclear, but after further tracing and investigation it became evident that what they had discovered was only the latest version of the virus; the earlier versions had escaped notice. It also became clear that the target of the virus had been the Iranian nuclear programme.

†††† Although neither government have ever admitted responsibility for Stuxnet, and the entire subject is still top secret, the documentary provides evidence that the virus was developed by the US and Israel secret agencies and planted in the computers which control the centrifuges producing the enriched uranium for Iranís nuclear programme, creating breakdowns and damage that delayed the programme. Initially this was a covert operation which seemed to be effective but the Israelis, apparently without informing their US partners, released a more aggressive version of Stuxnet which targeted factories and facilities which provided equipment to Iranís nuclear programme. This was the version that came to the attention of the cyber security organisations for, by then, it had replicated itself on computers worldwide, including the US.

†††† Zero Days is a wide-ranging documentary in which some sections are more interesting than others. As the documentary deals with a computer virus the images available could not be as self-evident as a grounded tanker spewing oil; instead there are blinking lights, lines of computer code and talking heads. To enhance the visual presentation Gibney adds sections such as a reconstruction of the assassination of two of Iranís scientists (an assassination apparently carried out by Mossad). The documentary also includes a fascinating overview of the development of Iranís nuclear programme using archive footage and revealing facts such as that under Nixon the US provided the Shah with the start of the programme! The sections detailing the Iranian programme and the investigations by various security organisations into the origins of Stuxnet are focussed and interesting, but when Gibney continues the documentary to consider how cyber warfare fits into military operations, and the possible impacts of Stuxnet across the world, the documentary loses focus, perhaps because a fair bit of it is conjecture.

†††† The genie is out of the box. Once the Stuxnet virus spread across the world, other governments gained the code as well as developing their own viruses with important consequences for the US, for, as more than one interviewee in Zero Days pointed out, it is more vulnerable to cyber attack than any other country. As well, if no one can speak about Stuxnet because of the over-classification of the material (the words of an ex-CIA and NSA director), governments cannot even begin to discuss possible agreements to limit cyber attacks in the same way, for example, that there is a protocol about the use of chemical or biological weapons.

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Transfer Quality

Video

†††† Zero Days is presented in the 1.85:1 original aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced.

†††† The print is good. Interview segments and the computer graphics are sharp with good natural colours. The archival footage, some going back 40 years, naturally varies as should be expected but artefacts are minimal.

††††Burnt in English subtitles translate the non-English sentences.

††††The layer change at 60:11 resulted in a slight pause.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

†††† Audio is a choice of English Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps or English Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 Kbps.

†††† This film is basically voiceover and interviews, which are easy to hear, and archival footage. The surrounds and subwoofer were only utilised for some music and a couple of explosions but nothing more was required.

†††† The sparsely used music score is by Will Bates.

†††† As the film consists of narration and interviews lip synchronisation is fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Theatrical Trailer (2:03)

Madman Propaganda

†††† Trailers for Louis Theroux: My Scientology Movie (1:46), The Green Prince (1:59), Particle Fever (2:17) and The Gatekeepers (2:04).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

†††† The Region 1 US version of Zero Days is NTSC and includes a 9 minute interview with writer / director Alex Gibney. I suppose that makes it the better release although it hardly seems worth importing.

Summary

†††† It is difficult to make a documentary about a computer virus visually interesting but using archival footage and some compelling interviewees Zero Days presents an intriguing story about clandestine operations and cyber warfare that has ramifications for everyone.

†††† The DVD has good video and audio. The extras consist of only the theatrical trailer and trailers for other films and we miss out on the short interview with Gibney that is available in Region 1.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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