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(2-Disc Director's Cut)

David Fincher is definitely one of the best filmmakers out there; his earlier works SE7EN and FIGHT CLUB remain challenging and unforgettable cinematic experiences that rank highly on my list of must see movies. Fincherís latest movie, ZODIAC ($35), is a stunning and meticulous crafted piece of filmmaking that also rates as a must see, although for different reasons than his earlier films. ZODIAC is a period film (the period is the late sixties through mid seventies), which is crafted with such care, that if one did not know the actors on the screen, they would swear the movie they were watching was made during the period it was depicting. Every detail on the screen and even the look of the movie screams that ZODIAC was shot during the late sixties/early seventies.

ZODIAC is a near documentary style police procedural that chronicles the unsolved crimes of the Zodiac Killer, who plagued Northern California. For the most part, the plays out from the perspective of two of the police officers assigned to the case, as well as two journalists- including one for whom identifying the killer becomes an obsession. All of the performances are dead on perfect. Jake Gyllenhaal gives a wonderfully earnest performance as Robert Graysmith, the San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist, who becomes fixated on identifying The Zodiac Killer, and whose later books serve as the basis for the film. Robert Downey Jr. pretty much steals every scene his is in, as the showboating, yet self-destructive, San Francisco Chronicle reporter Paul Avery. Mark Ruffalo portrays lead investigator Inspector David Toschi, while Anthony Edwards is Inspector William Armstrong. Brian Cox also does a bit of scene stealing as attorney Melvin Belli and John Carroll Lynch makes a definite impression as the Zodiac prime suspect Arthur Leigh Allen. The cast of ZODIAC also includes ChloŽ Sevigny, Ed Setrakian, John Getz, John Terry, Candy Clark, Elias Koteas, Dermot Mulroney, Donal Logue, Philip Baker Hall, Charles Fleischer and Clea DuVall.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made ZODIAC available on DVD in great looking 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. As I stated above the look of ZODIAC emulates that of a film shot during the late sixties/early seventies, yet the presentation is nonetheless beautiful. For the most part, the image is crisp and well defined, but there is some mild softness that does creep up in places. Colors have that ever so slightly sallow tinge that one associates with movies from the period that ZODIAC depicts. Still, the hues are fairly well saturated and the flesh tones appear pretty accurate. Black are deep, white are stable and the picture produces a good level of shadow detail. Visual imperfections are non-existent. Digital compression artifacts are well contained.

ZODIAC comes with a solid Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. Much of the film is a talky drama; so the sound design has an understated quality. Still there are a few opportunities where the mix does show off. For the most part, the sound has an open and effortless quality that makes good use of the outlying channels, and even the smaller sound effects are convincingly rendered. Additionally, fidelity is excellent. Dialogue is cleanly rendered and remains totally understandable. No other language tracks have been included on the DVD, but English, French and Spanish subtitles are provided.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials, which have been spread across both discs of this set. Disc one features two separate running Audio Commentaries. The first is with director David Fincher, while the second features actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey, Jr., producers Brad Fischer and James Vanderbilt, plus author James Ellroy. Moving on to disc two, one will find the remainder of the supplemental programming, which has been split into two sections: The Film and The Facts. The Film starts with Zodiac Deciphered- an eight-part program that runs under an hour and looks at the various aspects of the filmís production. The Visual Effects Of Zodiac looks at the filmís understated use of CGI. Previsualization compares the animatics to the completed film. A Theatrical Trailer closes out this section. The Facts begins with This Is The Zodiac Speaking- a one hundred minute documentary that includes interviews with surviving victims and investigators. Finally, Prime Suspect: His Name Was Arthur Leigh Allen is an interview-based program that looks at the man some believed to have been the Zodiac.

ZODIAC is another must see film from director David Fincher. Paramountís DVD looks and sounds great and the supplemental content is excellent. Highly recommended.



Zodiac - The Director's Cut (Two-Disc Special Collector's Edition) (2007)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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