I just watched this streaming from Netflix, which opined that I would think of the film as a 4.6. I guess I've been letting my doc affinity show, as I certainly haven't been rating any Law & Order dvds. Anyway, you all have already hashed out most of what I have to say about Dear Zachary, but I'll go ahead and drop my $1.05 into the freedom cap.
First, I should mention that I don't feel exactly comfortable discussing a film about a subject so personal to the filmmaker. So, I'm going to approach it sideways. What's the purpose of Dear Zachary? We can name a few answers -- to celebrate the life and mourn the death of Andrew Bagsby, to show appreciation for Andrew's parents, to indict the justice system dealing with Andrew's murderer, and to spur a feeling of dissatisfaction with and anger toward the legal process shown in the film. In my opinion, the film succeeds in all of these aims.
In the end, however, I didn't click to assign Dear Zachary those suggested five stars. Within the first few frames of the film, I felt distracted and somewhat irritated by the editing techniques. Pacing, repetition, scare tactics... all served to draw me out of and away from the film. If the pacing of the clips and the callback repetition changed, I could probably get totally on board. As it is, I would recommend Dear Zachary to people who like true crime stories, but not to people who go to the theater to experience the art of film. If someone approaches me with a Venn Diagram showing extensive overlap between these two categories, I will pretend to talk to someone who is standing behind them and then run the other way when they look in that direction.