Zodiac (2007)

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Released 26-Sep-2007

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Featurette-Making Of-This is Zodiac
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2007
Running Time 151:08
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up ?
Region Coding 4 Directed By David Fincher
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal
Mark Ruffalo
Anthony Edwards
Robert Downey Jr.
Brian Cox
John Carroll Lynch
Richmond Arquette
Bob Stephenson
John Lacy
ChloŽ Sevigny
Ed Setrakian
John Getz
John Terry
Case ?
RPI ? Music David Shire


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Dutch
Hebrew
Icelandic
Spanish
Smoking Yes, Key characters smoke
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

††††David Fincher is a filmmaker who commands attention. The director of Se7en, Fight Club and Panic Room makes a break from his usual style to direct his first film based on a true story. Zodiac may have even reinvented the 'based on a true story' crime genre.

††††Zodiac chronicles a reporter's journey, trying to unmask a serial killer in late sixties and early seventies San Francisco. The Zodiac was a violent serial killer who generally went after his victims in isolated 'lover's lane' areas. The killer was an attention seeker and started writing coded letters to the San Francisco Tribune about his murders and motives. The film essentially follows the story of Robert Graysmith, a cartoonist at The Tribune who gets caught up in the story and starts compiling his own case. In fact, you could say that Graysmith's life becomes consumed with Zodiac, eventually writing the book upon which the film is based.

††† Graysmith (played brilliantly by Jake Gyllenhaal) is unexpectedly drawn into the case after a colleague, reporter Paul Avery (the scene stealing Robert Downey Jr.), is assigned to cover it for the paper. While Graysmith and his search for the truth is the focus of the film, the investigation is also shown from the police perspective, via detectives David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) and William Armstrong (Anthony Edwards).

††† The first 20 or so minutes of this film are truly gripping. The portrayals of the murders, the brutality and seemingly random thrill kills that they were, puts the first half of the film on edge. You really get a sense that the journalists and the cops are racing against time before the Zodiac strikes again. Being based on a true story, the film doesn't necessarily follow a typical narrative arc, and that could frustrate some viewers. While I thoroughly enjoyed the film and recommend it wholeheartedly, it was a little slow in places. Once I realised that there wasn't going to be the resolution I might have expected, I was kind of shocked, not because of any shortcomings of the film, but because the reality that the movie portrayed was genuinely disturbing. Full credit should be given to Fincher. His direction was spot on and the style of the film was perfect: realistic, frustrating and dark. It was much more subdued and restrained in style than his previous movies.

††† Fincher's latest outing may not be the classic that some of his previous films are, but you should see Zodiac all the same. It'll make you realise that real life can conjure up sickos a lot better than fiction can.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and the disc is 16x9 enhanced.

††††The picture tended to be a little soft, but intentionally so. Note that Zodiac was shot in HD digital.

††† The cinematography was such as to make it feel you were right there in the early seventies with all the key players. As such, the picture tended to be a little faded and even somewhat dull in places.

††† Colours were the same as the above, washed out, even a little tarnished. Even outdoor shots tended to be a little bleak. Skin tones were realistic.

††† Black levels were deep, a must in a film that has a lot of dark, dreary nights scenes.

††† There were no MPEG compression or film artefacts.

††† Subtitle options were included.

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

Audio

††† The audio track is a very good Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s) track.

††† Dialogue came through clearly, which for a dramatic film of this type is very important. Audio sync was fine too.

††† The surrounds didn't get too much of a workout, but when they did, they were immersive and added to the film. For the most part the surround use was quite subtle, but when required it kicked in.

††† Music added a lot to the film and really helped you feel like you were back in that seventies time period.

††† The subwoofer was used minimally, but given the type of movie this is, that's fine.

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

Extras

††† Making of featurette - This is Zodiac (26:58)††

††† An intriguing look at the making of the movie, with interviews from all the key cast and crew members. It also includes interview excerpts with a few of the actual people involved with the Zodiac case. A very good feature that blends the facts of the case and the filmmaker's vision for bringing it to the screen.

††† Trailers for Zodiac Director's Cut, 300 and Blood Diamond.

††† Promotional trailers shouldn't really be included as special features, but to have the Director's Cut edition rubbed in the face of Fincher fans who perhaps rushed out to buy this disc is a real slap in the face. It also explains why this edition is light on special features. According to IMDB, the Director's Cut is about 7 minutes longer than the theatrical version.

††††The R1 two-disc set will also feature a commentary with David Fincher, Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr. It will also have Zodiac Deciphered (an exhaustive behind-the-scenes documentary), The Visual Effects of Zodiac, Previsualization (split-screen comparisons between animatics and finished film), This is the Zodiac Speaking (all-new feature-length documentary covering every aspect of the investigation), and His Name was Arthur Leigh Allen, the truth about the prime suspect in the Zodiac case from people who knew him and the police who investigated him. Quite a list! No word on the R4 release date or features to be included.

Censorship

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R4 vs R1

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

††† Apparently the US version didn't get any special features, so R4 wins.

Summary

††† Overall, the film is great. One of the best of 2007.

††† The video is very good and true to the director's vision for portraying this milieu.

††† The audio is very good.

††† The lack of special features is disappointing. With a director's cut on the way, they've held out for what will no doubt be the definitive Zodiac release.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ben Smith (boku no bio)
Saturday, January 05, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDMarantz DV4300, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL HS10 projector on 100 inch 16x9 screen + Palsonic 76WSHD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-DE685. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationPioneer
SpeakersDB Dynamics VEGA series floor standers + centre, DB bipole rears, 10" 100W DB Dynamics sub

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
R1 2-disc Director's Cut - REPLY POSTED
R4 Blu-Ray of Zodiac -