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When David Fincher makes a movie...David Fincher makes a movie. He's not one of those directors whom churns out a movie every year - here's looking at you, Renny Harlin. He takes time with each of his cinematic efforts, and that labor is evident on the finished product. His previous film, the Jodie Foster film "Panic Room" was released in 2002, and before that, "Fight Club" had been released three years prior. Fincher takes his time. "Zodiac" is his first film in five years, and he has been working on the film, in some capacity, since before and beyond that period of time. To say this film was a labor of love for Fincher would be an understatement, and it is finally here for public consumption. If only most of the general public could appreciate Fincher's work. He's like a strange hybrid of David Lynch and Robert Zemeckis. He makes entertaining film, but still maintains a mood and edge all his own. Remember the feel and tone of "Se7en"? "Fight Club"? Even "Panic Room" had its own style. "Zodiac" is no different. It is a unique and engrossing film; one of the most original serial killer films to ever come out of Hollywood. "Zodiac" might not catch on with most of the general public, but it will certainly go down as a landmark for its director.
Based on the real life events surrounding the Zodiac murders, as described in Robert Graysmith's book, "Zodiac" deals with a period of time when San Francisco lived under a constant state of fear, trembling at the hands of an unknown killer who seemed to baffle authorities at every turn. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Robert Graysmith, a cartoonish for the San Francisco Chronicle, who becomes fascinated with the Zodiac case, even doing research on his own and figured out the code that Zodiac has been sending to the papers and police. Mark Ruffalo stars as Inspector David Toschi, the lead investigator assigned to the case, whose life is turned upside down by what becomes his obsession with solving the case. Robert Downey, Jr. takes the role of Paul Avery, a reporter for the Chronicle who becomes personally entangled in the case, which certainly doesn't do terrible things for his career. "Zodiac" is really about these three men and how their lives are affected by Zodiac. The film is told through informational narrative, where all the evidence and information is laid out to the audience, and we are given the chance to draw our own conclusions, though the most likely conclusions laid out are ones we would have come to on our own accord. "Zodiac" is a serial killer movie that doesn't try to be a serial killer movie. It just is. And that makes it terrifying.
At close to three hours, "Zodiac" is a hard sell. You also have to consider that most of this film deals with presenting the facts about the Zodiac case. Sure, we also see the Zodiac murders as they are committed, but those only take up a small portion of screen time. It's hard to do a serial killer film when most of the action consists of trying to obtain warrants, filling out paperwork, and reading letters. David Fincher pulls this off. I found myself fully entangled by this film, glued to the screen and waiting on the next piece of evidence to arise. Fincher's set-up and construction of the plot are brilliant and he shows his gifts as a storyteller with this one, giving us moments of complete terror followed quickly by moments of humor and evidenciary absurdity. We feel frustrated for the police as they do everything they can to catch a man who is obviously smarter than they are. And that is why this case so easily becomes an obsession for these characters. These are men with egos and with brains and they want to think they are smarter than some psycho who kills for kicks. But, in the end - seeing as how Zodiac was never caught - they weren't quite up to par. Fincher delves into the human stories involved with this case, and that what makes this a very special film.
Something else that makes "Zodiac" work is the fine ensemble, as eclectic as they come. Jake Gyllenhaal continues to add impressive motion pictures to his resume, and he does a fine job here of just playing himself and serving the script. The same can be said for Robert Downey, Jr., who is playing himself, but with the comic zeal and impeccable pacing that we've come to expect from one of the greatest actors in Hollywood today. Mark Ruffalo turns in the strongest performance in the film, looking more like his character than anyone else in the picture. But, the three leads are not the only great actors in this film. Anthony Edwards leaves the film about halfway, but is fabulous for the length of his stay in the film. John Carroll Lynch turns in a truly Fincher-esque performance as Arthur Leigh Allen, and Charles Fleischer has the best scene in the film towards the end, once again revealing why he is one of the lost treasures of the acting world. Every performance here is worthwhile and Fincher has certainly assembled an ensemble to be reckoned with, from Elias Koteas to Donal Logue, from Chloe Sevigny to Brian Cox. The list goes on and on.
In summation, I thoroughly recommend the latest from one of the most innovative directors in the industry today, the great David Fincher. "Zodiac" is not going to be for everyone. A lot of people will find it long-winded and boring. A lot of people will find the storytelling style off-kilter and a little too odd for their tastes. Having just sat through David Lynch's "Inland Empire", I can say that I absolutely love Fincher for making sure we knew where the film was going. Sometimes I like to be confused. Sometimes I like the director to be anal retentive with the amount of information he gives us, and the manner in which he presents it. "Zodiac" is one of the best films of 2007, thus far, and one of the greatest serial killer films ever made. With "Se7en", Fincher gave us a fictional serial killer. With "Zodiac", he gives us a real one. Which one is more frightening? On the surface, you think you know the answer. Give "Zodiac" a try and judge for yourself.
- added July 28, 2007 at 4:57pm
I loved this movie. I think David Fincher is a
great director and this movie really shows it.
The acting from Mark Ruffalo was superb. I
thought his role stood out more than anyone. The
movie's long but I never got bored with it at any
point in time. Something is always going on. One
thing I thought was done really well was the kill
scene in which the Zodiac killer stabbed the
couple after tying them up. I thought it was
amazing that it was such a hard scene to watch
that WASN"T too graphic or gory. I really think
this is an excellent movie. 10/10.
- added February 21, 2008 at 3:38pm
I loved that scene too. It didn't cut away or make
any stylish camera movements. It was so effective
in it's own way. Altogether the film was great,
another 10/10 from Fincher. None of his films
- added March 15, 2008 at 6:50pm
Boring... so long movie... so many names.. so many
places... so many diferent times... is not for
- added May 28, 2008 at 2:54am
Great movie. Loved every minute of it. 9/10
- added June 6, 2010 at 10:22pm
The look and acting of this was good, but the pace
of this movie is what hurt it. 7/10
- added November 27, 2010 at 3:59pm
I guess crAckerr has never seen Alien 3.