A serial killer in the San Francisco Bay Area taunts police with his letters and cryptic messages. We follow the investigators and reporters in this lightly fictionalized account of the true 1970's case as they search for the murderer, becoming obsessed with the case. Based on Robert Graysmith's book, the movie's focus is the lives and careers of the detectives and newspaper people. Written by
The bar Paul Avery frequents in the film is called Morti's. Mortis is Latin for death. See more »
In the scene where Avery is meeting someone in an abandoned building, and in the following scene where Graysmith and his date race to telephone Avery, a traffic signal in the background shows pedestrian control beacons of the "hand/man" style, rather than the "walk/don't walk" style of that era. See more »
Using the Facts to Create a Pleasing Crime Thriller
Zodiac, David Fincher's film about the impact the San Francisco Bay Area serial killer's case had on three primary characters is delivered with great attention to detail and proper pacing. Zodiac is not a film that uses or relies on suspended disbelief to succeed and does not attempt to compress five years of story into one in order to keep viewers interested. Instead it relies heavily on the facts and uses all of its 158 minutes to present them in almost linear form and staccato fashion.
Set primarily in San Francisco in the late 1960's and 70's (and eventually the 80's) Fincher's Zodiac takes no artistic license by adding the obligatory car chase scene down Russian Hill, drug enhanced evening in Haight-Ashbury or conspiracy oriented behind the scenes moves by City Hall. Instead the audience is presented with a credible story that portrays how stress, tension, frustration and fascination play upon the lives of S. F. Police Inspector David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo), S.F. Chronicle Editorial Cartoonist Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhall), and S.F. Chronicle reporter Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.). Each of these people, as well as those surrounding them are operating well within the confines of every day life and the establishment. Fincher does not let Zodiac wander outside its central story, and therefore no editorial comment about the Vietnam War or similar events of the day are offered. Insights about the impact on the victims (who survive) or their families are only touched upon if they remain central to the story.
The initial scenes of the movie depict the killer in operation and they are not sugar coated. However, viewers wanting to see a film in the style of Fincher's Alien (3), Se7en or even Fight Club (i.e., blood and gore to almost surreal levels) should look elsewhere.
Zodiac is a well crafted production on all fronts. In addition to Fincher, the lead actors and extensive (and well known) supporting cast Zodiac producer's assembled a credible team. James Vanderbilt (Screenplay), David Shire (Score), Donald Burt (Production Design), Keith Cunningham (Art Direction), Victor Zolfo (Set Direction) and Casey Storm (Costume Design) all deliver quality work in their respective areas. There are no weak spots in this film. Zodiac may not (or attempt to) dazzle, but it does please.
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