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(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 ZODIAC ($37), 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 Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation is truly fantastic. ZODIAC was shot digitally, but still manages to emulate the look a film made during the late sixties/early seventies. Of course, the dead giveaway that this isnít a film from the period is the astonishing level of clarity and depth that one will find in this presentation and a total absence of film grain. Image sharpness and fine detail are generally excellent, with only a handful of shots appearing a tiny bit softer. Like the DVD, colors have that ever so slightly sallow tinge that one associates with movies from the period that ZODIAC depicts, but this has more to do with the production design than anything else. Hues come across well saturated and the flesh tones appear very accurate. Blacks are virtually perfect, as are the whites. Contrast and shadow detail are excellent. Coming from digital elements, there are no film-based imperfections. Video noise in darker sequences is quite minimal.

ZODIAC is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. The Blu-ray gets a fidelity boost thanks to the lossless encode, but the sound is understated and very much like what one found in the DVD release. ZODIAC is a talky drama; so much of the sound design is localized front and center. Still, the track makes good use of the outlying channels for the placement of smaller sound effects, some ambience and occasion gunshots. The bass channel has relatively little to do. Voices have a warm, natural quality, plus the filmís dialogue is always completely understandable. No other language tracks have been included on the disc, but English, French and Spanish subtitles are provided.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc'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. The supplements have been ported from the DVD release, but the majority of which are now offered in hi-def. 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 a stunning piece of cinema from director David Fincher. Paramountís Blu-ray release is equally stunning in visual terms, and blows the excellent DVD release out of the water. Additionally, the supplemental content is truly exceptional. Very Highly recommended.



Zodiac [Blu-ray] (2007)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 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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