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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Zardoz
Zardoz
Fox // R // March 27, 2001
List Price: $24.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Adam Tyner | posted March 24, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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Zardoz speaks to you.

As much of an enthusiast of cult cinema as I am, I have to admit that "Zardoz" somehow managed to have slipped under my radar. The film didn't come to my attention until some members of the Home Theater Forum waged a successful campaign to convince Fox that this was a film worth releasing. I planned on grabbing the disc solely out of (sniff) loyalty, but I was happy to discover that "Zardoz" has much more going for it than a handful of very vocal fans.

"Zardoz" is a science-fiction film, but not in the "action movie with lasers" sense that most sci-fi seems to full under today. No, "Zardoz" is anything but conventional. A flying tiki god stone head thing commands a race of Brutes, Sean Connery's Zed among them, to kill and enslave. Zardoz' preferred weapons are guns that spew forth from its mouth. Zed comes to the realization that Zardoz is a false god, and a trip inside the head takes him to the fabled Vortex, home of the immortals who have remotely enslaved their primitive brethren. Zed's presence greatly disrupts their monotonous, rigidly democratic society, leaving them questioning everything they've come to know. That plot summary probably doesn't sound too interesting, but "Zardoz" isn't the sort of film that 'sounds good on paper'. This isn't just because of the memorably surreal visuals, but there's not really a better way to put it than to say that "Zardoz" has to be experienced to be appreciated.

Video: "Zardoz" is presented at 2.35:1, and as is the case with all of Fox' recent output of widescreen releases, the disc is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. This is a film that makes full use of its wide frame, and I shudder to think how unwatchable "Zardoz" would be panned-and-scanned. The curious can get an idea by watching the 1.85:1 trailer on the disc or taking a peek at the VHS caps from Stomp Tokyo. For a low budget release of its age, "Zardoz" looks about as good as can be expected. Grain is often present, though all but a couple excessively grainy shots are bearable. The source material used is undamaged, and the dust and assorted specks that appear so frequently in the early moments of "Zardoz" don't rear their head nearly as often when the film gets fully underway. Overall, a crisp, colorful image that complements a film with such memorable visuals.

Audio: "Zardoz" features a 3.0 English soundtrack and a mono French track. Though I didn't listen to "Zardoz" en francais, the English audio sounds dated but perfectly listenable, though lacking in the low-end.

Supplements: John Boorman's commentary is by far the highlight of the disc (well, aside from the feature, obviously). Boorman's discussion of the film is engaging and encompasses everything, from pre-production to Humorous Anecodes™ to technical comments to Zed's wedding dress. There are a few lengthy pauses, but this is the best solo director commentary I've heard since "Bring It On". Mighty praise indeed.

As stupid as this might sound, my other favorite extra is the theatrical trailer. Oh, if only I'd been born a few years earlier so I could appreciate seeing the trailer in a packed theater. Generally I'll watch older trailers on discs and cringe, but "Zardoz" is among the handful that would've had my butt in the theater on opening day for sure. Speaking of promos, Rod Serling contributes to a series of remarkably well-preserved radio spots, which are included along with a small but thorough still gallery.

Since "Zardoz" is part of Fox' March sci-fi assault, trailers for the simultaneously released "Alien Nation" and "Enemy Mine" are included on the disc, along with more popular entries like "Aliens", "The Abyss", and "ID4".

Conclusion: Part of me wants to recommend "Zardoz" just because a forum I frequent played such a significant role in getting the disc out there. That does the film and its DVD presentation a disservice, though, as both have enough going for 'em to warrant a high recommendation. "Zardoz" is obviously only going to appeal to a limited audience, but for fans of goofy sci-fi and trippy visuals, "Zardoz" is highly recommended.
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