Zodiac (2007)

zodiac-poster
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Does a good job making an unsolved crime interesting, good visuals

Very long

 
Movie Info

Movie Name:  Zodiac

Studio:  Phoenix Picture

Genre(s):  Drama/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s):  March 2, 2007

MPAA Rating:  R

zodiac-killer-lake-berryessa

Worst…picnic…ever…

A series of murders are rocking San Francisco and the surrounding area in 1968.  The murders appear to be unrelated, but the murder seems to enjoy taunting the police and press.  Naming himself Zodiac, the killer has avoided the detection of police at every step.  Writer Paul Avery (Robert Downey, Jr.) finds himself pulled into the madness and is followed by the curious San Francisco Chronicle editorial cartoonist Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) as San Francisco Police Department Inspector David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) and Inspector William Armstrong (Anthony Edwards) try to use forensics and handwriting samples to find a suspect.  As the crimes progress the fear grows, and Zodiac might escape punishment.

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I can’t quit you…

Directed by David Fincher, Zodiac tells the true life story of the Zodiac murders and adapts Robert Graysmith’s 1986 book.  The movie was met with mostly positive reviews but so-so box office returns.  Since its release however, Zodiac has gained a rather strong following.

The Zodiac killer was a sensation and a very “influential” serial killer.  The randomness of killings in the late ’60s had everyone talking and made Zodiac a notorious serial killer.  The killer helped inspire Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry (Scorpio was a Zodiac clone).  The big problem with Zodiac and the challenge of the film is that there is no answer to the crime.

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So…did you happen to kill a few people then write crazy notes about it?

Zodiac is an adaptation of the book by Jake Gyllenhaal’s character which comes to the conclusion that Arthur Leigh Allen (John Carroll Lynch) is the killer, but the facts as pointed out by the movie don’t really match up with this.  DNA eliminates Allen, but circumstantial evidence is strong.  There are a number of other legitimate suspects, and this film dips into some of the suspects but has Allen as the prime one despite the evidence.

Fincher has to get around the “no answer” and does it by having strong acting and a stylish film.  Zodiac looks great and has a lot of great shots.  Unlike many of Fincher’s other films, Zodiac really isn’t about flash but creating an environment.  The late ’60s San Francisco setting is rich for shooting and had to be recreated at many points.  The film comes off as almost an old style documentary at some points which is fun.

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No…not a killer here…just like walking around like this

As mentioned, the acting is also top notch in the movie.  Gyllenhaal plays the rather odd Graysmith (I kind of wonder how Graysmith agreed with his portrayal), and Robert Downey, Jr. plays the veteran writer.  Both characters allow the Zodiac to get the best of them and both have different reactions to that problem.  Ruffalo plays the frustrated Toschi (the real life influence for McQueen’s Bullitt), and I particularly like when he works with Graysmith near the end of the film.  The movie has a lot of fun minor roles also with Philip Baker Hall as Sherwood Morrill the handwriting expert, Brian Cox as famed attorney Melvin Belli, Anthony Edwards as Toschi’s partner Armstrong, Chloë Sevigny as Graysmith’s understanding (to a limit) wife, and Clea DuVall as prisoner Linda del Buono.  John Carol Lynch does a nice job as the creepy potential killer Arthur Leigh Allen.

I saw Zodiac not long after it came out, but re-watching it, does make it more enjoyable.  The film is stylish and slick looking, but does have the basic problem of telling the story of a series of unsolved murders.  Fincher does a good job making that story compelling, but it could leave some viewers who want more resolution with a void.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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