Home / DVD Pick of the Week: Zodiac

DVD Pick of the Week: Zodiac

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This week brings a plethora of desirable titles from a multitude of genres from around the world. If you are looking for some DVD-based joy, there is sure to be something hitting the shelves this week that you will find to your liking. From action to martial arts, drama to horror, television to animation, all sorts of releases are here to tickle your eyes and drain your wallets.

This week's pick is none other than David Fincher's criminally ignored Zodiac. It is a a fantastic recreation of the era, as well as an in-depth procedural that focuses not on the sensational aspects of the killing, but on those who were working towards capturing the man responsible.

David Fincher has taken the serial killer film and put a different spin on it. This is not an action film about the detective hot on the trailer of the killer, nor is it about the star trying to avoid becoming the killer's next victim. What it is, is an accomplished procedural that by all definition should be a dull and boring affair, yet this one is different. Many characters are juggled, the timeline covers decades, and no conclusion is ever reached. The last bit we already knew, as the Zodiac killings were never solved, with the SFPD declaring the case inactive in 2002.

There is amazing attention to detail. The bulk of the film takes place in the 1970s, an era before computers were as ubiquitous as they are now, and investigative/reporting techniques were just a little bit different than they are now. We watch as the main players are sucked into the drama, consumed with finding the killer who is making fun of their efforts.

The procedural form of the narrative doesn't allow for the visual kinetics that are something of a trademark in Fincher's films. However, that does not mean that this is a bland looking film — this is Fincher doing mainstream, which is better than mainstream. There is still room for some visual flourishes, and he even makes a static shot of a conversation interesting to watch.

Despite the lack of outside touches, this is a movie that delivers the goods. It is an engrossing twist on the serial killer genre. It is highlighted by a tight script, effective editing, and good performances. This is another winner for David Fincher, and a fascinating look at the way a life can be consumed with the search for the truth, and the procedures employed in that search, a personal procedural, if you will. Methodically paced, but never slow, despite the lack of gunfights, car chases, and explosions, creating a more intellectual journey.

Also out this week:

  • Stargate SG-1: Season Ten. The final season of the longest running US science fiction series hits DVD, and it is well worth the time. It is a strong season with a good story and acting.
  • Monster Squad: 20th Anniversary Edition. The title rings a bell, but I cannot recall ever seeing this tale of Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, and the rest seeking an amulet to take over the world.
  • The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection. A restored and unedited collection of the original theatrical toons. Very nice set for fans of classic cartoons.
  • The Number 23. Could have been good, but stumbling thriller with funnyman Jim Carrey. I had hopes, but it just really didn't work. Could make a good rental, though.
  • Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. I remember hearing good things about this when it was in theaters, about the way it puts in you in the perspective of the killer.
  • The Host. Monster movie from Korea, I have been looking forward to this for awhile now. It looks like a blast. It is available a in two-disk special edition and single disk standard release.
  • Hard Boiled: Two Disk Ultimate Edition. Dragon Dynasty is releasing this latest edition of the John Woo/Chow Yun Fat collaboration, and one of the best action flicks ever created.
  • Benson: The Complete First Season. I remember loving this when I was a kid. It has been such a long time…
  • Star Trek Fan Collective: Captain's Log. Fan selected episodes, two from each series, as well as the personal picks of the captains involved, plus a host of new extras.
  • The Bourne Files. A three-disk set with the first two films plus a third disk with all new extras. Just in time for the release of the The Bourne Ultimatum.
  • Renaissance. An animated feature from France in the style of Sin City. The English dub features the voices of Daniel Craig, Jonathan Pryce, and Ian Holm.
  • Nomad: The Warrior. Jason Scott Lee and Mark Dacascos star in this tale in Kazakhstan centering on a warrior destined to unify the tribes. It may be good, but the cover art is made to look like 300.
  • Slow Burn. Ray Liotta, LL Cool J, and Jolene Blalock star in this dull as dirt thriller. Skip this one.
  • Spawn: The Animated Collection. The classic animated series from HBO is ten years old, and here is a new remastered set with new extra features.
  • Creature from the Black Lagoon. Classic Universal monster action!
  • Django. Violent spaghetti western that I have wanted to see for some time now, missing the last release. It is being re-released through Blue Underground.
  • Last Hurrah for Chivalry. Dragon Dynasty's release of this early John Woo effort. It is a very good swordplay epic that hints at the Woo to come.
  • Four of the Apocalypse. Horror master Lucio Fulci's violent western, said to be one of his best outings.

So, anything for you this week?

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About Draven99

  • Zodiac is great – I call it ‘the feel-bad movie of the year.’ It’s that downer quality that worked against it commercially. Apparently this DVD release is strictly no-frills, but there will be a director’s edition with commentary and more footage later this year or next.