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ZARDOZ

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Sean Connery, Charlotte Rampling, Sara Kestelman, John Alderton
Director: John Boorman
Audio: 3.0 Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: Commentary, Radio Spots, Stills Gallery, Trailer
Length: 106 Minutes
Release Date: March 27, 2001

Film **

I was somewhat a fan of David Lynchís 1984 adaptation of Dune, though a lot of people, including Lynch himself, were not fans of the movie. The main reason being that many found the storyline too incomprehensible. I, however, surrendered myself to whatever meaning the story had, and was impressed with the visuals of Dune. My reason for mentioning that movie is because I have just seen another sci-fi cult classic that has truly got Dune beat out in the incomprehensible storyline department. The movie is Zardoz, a futuristic tale from John Boorman, who gave us two very superior movies in Deliverance and Excalibur. Boorman has created a movie that does boasts some unique visuals, but also contains such an out-there story, that it would probably take a viewer who was under the influence to understand what is going on. You know youíre in trouble when the first scene of the movie consists of a big face, made entirely of stone, floating through the air. Call it Star Wars crossed with a touch of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

The movie happens to star one of our all time great screen presences, Sean Connery, but I now know why I have never really heard this title mentioned as one of the legendary actorís best achievements. Connery has long been known as a sex symbol, and still is to this day, but I seriously question whether or not the actor was comfortable wearing the selected costumes, or lack there of if you get my drift. I can certainly say that the female crowd will certainly get a kick out of seeing Connery donned in nothing less than a loin cloth, but only if they arenít severely bored by the filmís substance, which I canít even begin to comprehend, other than a futuristic battle between to camps, from which Earth was divided into. The two camps are the elite, where immortals reside inside the vortex of the Zardoz God, and the barbarians, who live to feed grain to the vortex. In laymanís terms, the barbarians are the heroes and the immortals are the villains.

For fans of Sean Connery the actor, the film is a major letdown. This is mostly because the movie itself relies mostly on its set design and special effects to move the story. Connery is an actor known for his charisma and very sharp wit, but that simply isnít present in this movie. The inner portion of the Zardoz God Mask, the big stone face I referred to earlier, does include some neat visuals, as Zed is examined by the immortals as to how a man of his superior strength came about. Zed, as it turns out, was a creation of an immortal who was bored of eternal life, so much to the point that he created Zed in order to destroy the vortex, as well as the immortal race.

I realize that Zardoz has a cult following, and some will read this piece and feel that I missed something in this movie. Like I said earlier, I was a fan of the movie Dune, which many people found very pointless and excruciating. I was intrigued by the look of Boormanís visionary movie, but simply un-astounded by its substance. I guess in the end, you simply have to surrender yourself to a level of weirdness that a movie might display, but the weirdness that lies within Zardoz is one that I simply found impossible to surrender myself to.

Video **

Fox has rarely ever faltered in the transfer of their movies to the DVD format, and they have a long list of extremely superior looking discs, but Zardoz is nowhere near that particular list. This anamorphically enhanced presentation shows some promise in the opening moments, but for the most part, there is a lot of noticeable grain, and plentiful softness in the picture. Itís safe to say that given Foxís impressive reputation, this is somewhat of a letdown in terms of picture quality.

Audio **1/2

Foxís audio offering on Zardoz is a rarely used 3.0 channel surround sound track. Come to think of it, I donít believe Iíve ever watched a disc in this sound type. For what it was, it certainly wasnít lacking clear sound quality, but being that this is a movie from 1974, sound in films wasnít as superior as it is today. All in all, a mixed reaction, but not a terrible audio job at all.

Features **1/2

An adequate use of features this time around from Fox. Included is a commentary from director John Boorman, a stills galley, radio spots, and trailers for this film as well as several other sci-fi releases from Fox, including The Abyss, Alien Nation, Aliens, Enemy Mine, and Independence Day.

Summary:

You either get it and are enthralled by it, or you donít get it and are simply unimpressed by the package at hand, and Zardoz left me with the latter feeling. John Boorman has made far superior movies, and this is perhaps his one bump in the road.