Movie Renter's Guide Number 154 - January, 2008 - Part II

ARTICLE INDEX
"Zodiac" (HD DVD)

movie-zodiac.jpgSynopsis

This story is based on the actual case files of one of the most intriguing unsolved crimes in the nation's history.  A serial killer terrifies the San Francisco Bay Area and taunts police with his ciphers and letters while investigators in four jurisdictions search for the murderer. The case will become an obsession for four men as their lives and careers are built and destroyed by the endless trail of clues.

Specifications

  • Paramount Pictures
    2007, Color, Rated R, 2 Hr 42 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • English DD+ 5.1
  • Directed by David Fincher
  • Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr, Anthony Edwards, Brian Cox, Elias Koteas
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Mild
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

Paramount decided to forgo a day-and-date release of Zodiac in HD and now we are finally getting Fincher’s latest work in director’s cut form in HD. The new cut is only a few minutes longer than the original, and honestly I had a hard time telling the difference. I am a huge fan of Fincher’s previous works, so I was excited to see this one during its theatrical run. The story is engaging and the cast is spectacular. I only hope people remember it come awards time. This new cut fleshes out some details a bit more, but barely enough to notice since I saw it last time. Still a powerful and disturbing film though.

Technical

David Fincher’s films have always had a certain style to them. Sometimes that translates well on-screen and sometimes it doesn’t. The film starts off with the older Paramount and Warner logos giving you the assumption that they’ll stick with a dated look for the film, but that is definitely not the case. Fincher is a big proponent of CG and pushing the envelope in terms of realism with CG shots (see Panic Room or the Only music video for proof) and this film blends CG and real life wonderfully. The image is incredibly detailed and dimensional. Hues are slightly understated, but some of the outdoor shots are rich with detail and natural color tone. Some of the darker scenes are slightly muted compared to the hyper contrasty look of some of Fincher’s earlier works, but shadow detail is still excellent and the image never takes on a flat look. There is a touch of banding at times and I saw a bit of compression creep in on occasion, but never enough to be distracting. Overall, this is an exceptional HD transfer for a beautifully shot film.

The soundtrack is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus. I know a lot of people will complain about this and I too would like to see a bit more consistency in terms of lossless and uncompressed audio support. Aside from that though, this is still a rich and involving sound design. Dynamics are good, but this isn’t a shoot’em up or action film, so don’t expect a lot of bass or gunfire. Mood is a big part of the story, and the soundtrack does a hell of a job establishing it and lending to the tension. Dialogue is natural, with great timbre, and imaging across all channels is excellent. This soundtrack does have that open feel that you get with better sound designs.

Extras

The feature film has two separate commentaries available: one with the director and the other with cast. The second disc contains the rest of the bulk, and there are some outstanding supplements here. Without a doubt, the highlight is the documentary on the making of the film that is full of great information about the research and development of this project. There are also some production features, a split screen comparative between animatics and final sequences, a sensational documentary on the Zodiac case file, and another feature on the main suspect in the case. One of the best supplement packages I’ve seen for a theme movie.