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on 20 October 2008
The long-delayed Director's Cut of David Fincher's "Zodiac" is finally with us and there is good news and bad news; the bad news is that the new scenes barely amount to five extra minutes in a 2 1/2 hour movie and some of the additional scenes are so brief you'll hardly notice them. Now to the good news; don't be put off by the very short new scenes that have been added, the documentaries and commentaries in this 2-disc set more than make up for it. On the DVD cover, the blurb says that the documentaries are "exhaustive" and, for once, the finished product lives up to the hype.

There is a feature-length documentary about the crimes themselves featuring fascinating, detailed interviews with the surviving victims of the Zodiac killer and the real detectives who worked the case (they look directly into camera as they recall the horrors of Zodiac's rampage and it pulls you into the story, Lake Berryessa victim Bryan Hartnell is unrecognisable now). You find out incredible details about how some detectives neglected to put crucial information in their reports and you hear officers openly contradicting one another about what happened. Essential viewing.

A second documentary is about the prime suspect in the case, it's called: "His Name Was Arthur Leigh Allen." Even if Allen wasn't the Zodiac, he was one very sick puppy indeed. A quite terrifying individual. Again, this is worth a look. See it and make up your own mind about Allen's guilt or innocence.

There is also an in-depth "Making Of" documentary which details David Fincher's exhausting shooting style (Watch in amazement as he makes Jake Gyllenhaal do 38 takes of dropping a book on a car seat until he is satisfied. Stanley Kubrick would be proud of Fincher!)

The commentaries are also excellent. There is one with David Fincher himself and a second with "L.A. Confidential" writer James Ellroy, Robert Downey Jr, Jake Gyllenhaal and the writer and producer. They are, again, full of even more detail you didn't know before.

There are also some deleted scenes which are interesting.

Zodiac in any cut is a superb movie. If you know a fan of the film or someone who has an interest in the Zodiac case, this would make an ideal Christmas present for them.
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on 30 September 2008
A simply fantastic film and the HD transfer is demo worthy the directors cut adds to the film without making it drag. You simply can't get much more classy than this film and disc, the extras are fantastic too but the one stand out extra has to be the "this is the zodiac speaking" documentry this runs at about 90 mins and features interviews with all the surviving people from the real zodiac case and some great crime scene photos and archive footage. A film you'll never forget, within minutes of watching it you'll be on the internet trying to solve the case yourself and straight back to amazon to buy the books. I can not recommend it enough a real 5 star effort
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on 27 May 2007
David Fincher's brave take on Robert Graysmith's book gets to grip with the obsessive complexity of the source, evoking its spirit through compelling analysis of the minutiae of the case. Those expecting a thrilling cat and mouse chase in the mold of Seven may be disappointed, but comparisons to Fincher's earlier classic are unfair. 'Zodiac' is as much about the mood of 1960s and 70s California as about the mystery itself, about the dying idealism of the principle characters and their belief in being able to solve the case. Like The Transamerica Pyramid, which we see in the process of construction, the Zodiac case goes to the heart of San Francisco's modern history. The architecture, clothing and technology of the period are much more than background in a film about police procedure. Progress is hampered by juristictional boundaries, lack of cooperation, and the absence of 'telefax'. Anthony Edward's stoic cop makes a succession of phone calls at one stage to various regional police departments to collect evidence, a lumbersome process reminding us of a world pre-internet and email. With is focus on procedure and character, Zodiac belongs to a tradition of films that could be said to have begun in the 1970s with Alan J Pakula's All the President's Men and The Parallax View, and continued more recently with Michael Mann's The Insider.

This could have been dull and plodding, but the director and cast manage to sustain interest and tension throughout. Very true to the facts - some would say constrained by them - the film tells the murders as they happened, refusing to sensationalise them. In some instances, this shows the killer to be quite clumsy and opportunist, not the dark genius that you might imagine. The film is not in awe of the killer's stealth, but shows how legal infrastructure and human failure conspired to prevent his capture. It is also a timely reminder how the oxygen of publicity both inspires murder and inhibits our ability to solve it.

Despite brilliant acting throughout, there are a couple of niggles in the characterisation that handicap this film slightly. Jake Gyllenhall's Robert Graysmith is not really relevant as a character until about half way through, and the film misses some fleshing out of his character to lend verisimility to his obsessive personality. We see his descent and near unravelling in the riddles of the case, but before we can be convinced of some inherant character trait that might explain his fixation. Likewise, Robert Downey Jnr - who is remarkably not irritating as the reporter Paul Avery - becomes fairly peripheral in this film. We are told of his extraordinary knowledge of the case, and we see his subsequent descent into alcaholism, but are we to assume the two are connected? His interest in the case is unclear - is it merely professional, or is it the root cause of his self-destruction? Some fleshing out here would have helped, despite the film already running into two and a half hours. The length has been criticised, but in my opinion the film stays engaging and tense until the end. Great stuff.
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on 10 July 2007
I'm reading a lot of the same criticisms of this film so I will deal with each of the most common ones in turn:

"The movie is too long"
Not true. The movie is as long as it needs to be. There is a lot of information about this case - most of it has to be discarded. What is left has earned its place and needs to be there. I found the film gripping to the end.

"The killer doesn't figure highly enough. It is too dull and talky"
This criticism usually comes from lovers of serial-killer thrillers. After seeing a few murders in the beginning of the film, they expect it to crack up a notch as it progresses. It is true that The Zodiac is largely absent from the 2nd half of the film, but that only allows the main plot (one character's obsession) to dominate which is where the film really starts to take shape. Obsession and its effects are the point of this film. It is not a Columbo-type good guy v bad guy puzzle-solver. The bad guy doesn't have to figure highly when there is so much conflict between the good guys. Police departments that don't talk to each other, journalists and police arguing with each other, a Zodiac obsessive getting no co-operation from people who want to forget the case. Throw in a couple of creepy suspects and a series of bizarre telephone calls and you have enough drama to keep the story always engaging.

"The film's conclusion is wrong"
The film's conclusion is right, GIVEN ITS SOURCE MATERIAL. It may not be always factually accurate, nor does it need to be. It's a drama inspired by true events, not a documentary. The important thing is that Zodiac makes clear who provided its source material and the cirsumstances surrounding its production.

"Not Fincher's best"
I think it's his best work to date. Of course if you come to this film expecting to see Seven 2, you will almost certainly be disappointed. It's more like a cross between All the Presidents Men and JFK. It lacks the bold and inventive camerawork and lighting of Seven and Fight Club and its hard to believe sometimes that it was made by the same director. On the other hand, it takes someone with the skills to make films such as these to have been capable of maturing into the director that made Zodiac. It deals with far more complex, weighty and difficult material than did Fincher's earlier movies and the sober and precise style he uses is entirely appropriate.

"The violence in this film is too brutal. One scene in particular is too much"
This is a valid criticism. I found the scene in question very shocking and the viewer should be aware of this. However it cannot be dismissed as unnececcessary because it has the desired effect of letting the audience know in no uncertain terms what this individual is capable of. This action resonates in later scenes making them more effective. On the whole this is not a violent film at all.

"The acting is rubbish"
Ok, I don't think anyone really said this (unless they are crazy). I just wanted to contrive the opportunity to say that the acting in this film is of a very high standard. Jake Gylenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, John Carroll Lynch - all excellent. And Robert Downey Junior's much needed humerous touch was worth the price of admission alone!

Worth seeing for anyone who appreciates an intelligent story well-told.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 November 2012
Peerless precision from Fincher.
I have seen it written that this film shows that Fincher has grown up! And whilst I understand that train of thought, it simply isn't true. What Fincher has done is give a true story his meticulous care and standard deft precision by leaving no stone unturned. We get simply one of the (if not thee) best films to deal with the investigating process of a high profile serial killer, a film that as a character study is actually essential cinema in this viewers humble and honest opinion.

The beauty of this film is in the fact that it can't pay off with a pandering mainstream ending, the makers are telling a true story and any sort of research will lead viewers to the fact that there is no twist here, no joyous ticket selling round of applause at this ending, it is what it is, frustratingly brilliant. The case the film is about consumes all involved with it, and to see how it affects those involved is wonderful (yet sad) because if the viewer is so inclined to jump on board then it will consume you as well, the film and the actors within demand you see this for the affecting character piece it is.

The acting here gives me hope that classic acting is alive and well in this generation, I was once not enamoured with Mark Ruffalo in his early days as an actor, but here he puts such heartfelt verve into the role of David Toschi I feel I need to send him a written apology! Roberet Downey Junior is joyous as Paul Avery, all 60s chic and swagger without tipping over the edge of the mountain caricature. Yet surprisingly to me I find that it is Jake Gyllenhaal as Robert Graysmith who is the film's axis, its central heartbeat, a performance that demands undivided attention, a performance brought about by Fincher's quest for perfection from everything to do with film making. Gyllenhaal hated working on the film, he hated Fincher's work ethic, but in time he will look back and see that here the director coaxed out a performance that will in time be seen as great.

This is not Se7en 2, and British film mags like Empire should know better than to use that tag line to get the readers' attention, because fans of serial killer thrillers need not apply here, fans of outstanding cinema about the human psyche during the pursuit of a serial killer? Well get in line folks, for this is one of the best movies of 2007. 10/10
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on 5 February 2008
I really enjoyed Zodiac. Although it does last for 2.5 hours, I honestly never felt bored, I was genuinely interested in the subject of the film. It can get slightly confusing at times as lots of new characters are brought in throughout, so it does require a lot of concentration on the viewers part.....anyone looking for a fast paced, gruesome thriller that doesn't tax the brain too much would probably switch this off after the first hour!

Jake Gyllenhaal and Anthony Edwards are great in this film, in fact the whole film is very well acted.....and the murder scenes had a very `real' feel about them without being overly gruesome, but at the same time I was quite disturbed by them. All in all I would definitely recommend Zodiac, if you're willing to concentrate for the 2.5 hours you won't be disappointed, it's a gripping true crime story.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 28 December 2007
This is one of my favourite films of the past twelve months - not because I have some morbid obsession with true crime, but because it's an excellent example of the slow-burn thriller. As we've come to expect from David Fincher, the film is stylishly shot with a sharp, punchy script and a terrific soundtrack, and features top-drawer performances from the whole cast. There are several moments (including the murders themselves) which will send shivers down your spine, but the actual investigation is equally tense, even though we all know there can be no conclusion as the killings are still officially unsolved. Fincher also spares some time to focus on the human cost to the journalists and policemen who become obsessed with catching the killer, and the limitations and frustrations of pre-computer murder investigations. The only minor criticism I have is that the number of unseen suspects, victims and witnesses named throught the film make it occasionally difficult to recall exactly who is who.

If you're the type who doesn't like to watch anything that requires actual thought or you're just looking for gore, avoid this like the plague. If you want an exceptional, intelligent thriller, you've found it.
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on 18 November 2016
Who did it? Who is leaving these clues? Who is the zodiac killer?
For £2.47 you, yes YOU, can find out. I know you want to.. just do it.
What's £2.47? 82.33% of a tescos meal deal? a few bags of sweets? a Freddo bar? one bus ticket? yeah a bus ticket is useful but it's only one way you've still got to get home. don't come crying to me when you're stuck somewhere with no route home and no Zodiac DVD to keep you company.
Do the right thing and buy it. Don't be a fool.

Or be a fool. Who am i to tell you what to do. I have no authority in your life.
I am but a humble amazon reviewer hoping for the best for this DVD.

Just do what your heart tells you. Unless it's telling you not to buy this DVD in which case ignore your heart and ridicule it for being so stupid and then take your coin purse, count up the change, pay for this DVD, look in the mirror and realise how stupid you were for trying to pay for a DVD with coins over the internet and then use your card and buy it.
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on 13 December 2016
From the second the film starts with its beautiful yet haunting opening melody it just sucks you right into the terrifying times of those days in an authentic and real portrayal of the events of those years. I was very, very impressed with the performance of Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr in this. I don't really think they got enough credit for what they did. Mark Ruffalo puts in a good performance also. The extra's are not anything to be snuffed. I strongly and highly recommend this film.
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on 25 September 2007
Before beginning `Zodiac' I was a little hesitant, because I'd heard almost as many negative comments as positive ones made by critics in the press. I can only imagine that anyone who wasn't utterly engrossed for the entirety of this film hadn't actually been watching it. Without detracting from the previous comprehensive reviews on this page, I'd like to add how much I enjoyed this film. I admit I found it difficult viewing at times, specifically when the murders were taking place, which were handled with such quiet skill by the director and the actors involved in those scenes that they came as completely shocking to me. But also less tangibly unsettling is the subtle, but persistent unease that suffuses this movie- the subject matter is harrowing enough, but the exemplary taught, uncompromising direction only increases the inhumane aspect of these crimes.

Undoubtedly the best part of this film though has to be the performances. The `stars' of the movie are as reliably committed to their roles and endearing as ever (e.g. Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey JR.), but it's the actors in lesser roles such as the victims of the Zodiac and also Anthony Edwards whom I found particularly good at drawing me into the story. David Fincher has really done well to bring out such great performances in his cast.

As another reviewer has noted- in the special (lack there of) features there's a 30-second segment informing viewers that a 2-disc Director's Cut version with director's commentary containing unseen footage, all-new interviews and behind the scenes features will be available to buy in 2008. For the film studio to promote an improved version of the product the consumer has only just bought and viewed (with features that should have been included on this DVD) I found quite insulting and it's a shame, because `Zodiac' really is a very impressive piece of film-making.

As the last ten minutes of the film dawned (don't worry, I promise no spoilers) and no clear conventional Hollywood ending was in sight, I began to worry that this was one of those unsatisfying films that would simply end and leave me wanting. Well it didn't. I found the ending perfect, despite not wrapping up the entire story in a nice tidy bow it definitely does justice to the story and in the end...what more could you ask for?
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