Zodiac Director’s Cut: HD DVD Review


It doesn’t matter if you get this super-creepy, star-filled thriller in high-def-- just get it.

Jan. 22, 2008 — by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

In the late ’60s, an anonymous letter-writing serial killer sent shivers through San Francisco residents, and left police and reporters baffled. What subject is more deserving of a two-disc HD DVD set?

After an initial, semi-disappointing DVD release, Paramount has given “Zodiac” its due with a high-definition version of the “Director’s Cut.”

The film opens in the summer of ’69—and not nearly as nostalgic as the Bryan Adams song. Instead, it kicks off with the splatter of blood and a growing body count, both of which slowly consume and introduce a slew of characters in David Fincher’s (“Se7en,” “Fight Club”) dramatic depiction of this true crime story.

Despite the insanely all-star cast, the bulk of this obsessive hunt revolves around cop David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo), alcoholic reporter Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.), and curious cartoonist Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal). The killer may have never been caught, but this film certainly captures the curiosity, the horror and the excitement revolving around the case.

The murders and suspense are certainly stomach turning, but not because of the high-def. While “Zodiac” deserves a thumbs-up as a movie, high-def doesn’t necessarily do much for the experience. This is surprising, considering that the movie was shot in 1080p with a digital camera. The dreary, drab colors don’t do much to help; however, the blacks are extremely deep and the picture itself is very sharp.

Donovan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man” and a soundtrack that oozes suspense is nicely delivered in Dolby Digital Plus. But again, there are no explosions or other crazy sound effects that scream for the HD DVD treatment.

What makes this edition so special is an entire extra disc of digital goodies that should conjure up more interest (or heebie-jeebies) in the movie’s subject matter. Aside from director, cast and crew commentaries, there are hours of featurettes to fuel those wanting more from this unsolved mystery.

Surely “Zodiac” would be a nice addition to any high-def collection, but purely based on the merits of the movie. Bottom line: Whether you get it in high-def or not, just get it. The underrated all-star extravaganza should keep viewers clutching for couch pillows throughout its almost three-hour runtime.

Format Reviewed: HD DVD
Video: N/A
Disc Size: 2 Discs
Aspect Ratio: 1080p
Audio: Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
Director: David Fincher
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., Anthony Edwards, Brian Cox, Elias Koteas, Donal Logue, John Carroll Lynch, Dermot Mulroney
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Rating: R
Retail: $39.99

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