The Zodiac (2005)
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This movie is a big empty void of a plot certainly not helped by the bland direction hoping to surf on the serial killer curiosity. I have rarely seen a movie with less tension and less ambiance. Instead it comes as a dry recital of bare facts in chronological order. There is no insight, no psychology of the killer or the detectives who go from one crime scene to another. There is not even the slightest effort to understand or analyze the killings.
If you're interested in the real story, I recommend you read any Wiki or report on it you can find online and you can skip the movie altogether. If you're interested in a more in depth view of the crimes, you can probably find a book that'll give you more in 10 pages than this horrid empty flick does in 1 hour.
One of his most famous quotation was: "I am waiting for a good movie about me". He can repeat it again, because this film will frown in every person who sees it.
If you know about the regretful work about this unsolved case you should know that this would provide sufficient material for a tauting and suspenseful thriller but... that was plain wrong after seeing this.
The movie explores the seemingly random shootings and stabbings of the killings and it began well with a well-shot scene of the 1st murder but then, it goes all down the toilet. The action is guided to focus on the lead investigator on the case and his annoying son. The movie then runs between the detective, his son, his wife, a reporter and the killer. It's a mixture of police business, killings and monotonous domestic drama making the characters seem dull, gloomy and depressing. Unfortunately for the Zodiac fans this shows an extremely inert directing and apathetic editing and the ending just slams into nothing... so you'd better wait for the, most probably, upcoming excellent and thrilling movie that'll be directed by David Fincher next months called Zodiac(2006).
Hottie Justin Chambers plays Sgt. Matt Parish and does a terrific job. At first it seemed odd that his character was put in charge of the horrifying murders that were taking place, due to his young age and possible inexperience, but I suppose it means the older police officers do not have to take much responsibility for what turned out to be a very tough case. Tough also on Parish's personal life, especially when his young son Johnny takes an interest in the case, and when his wife Laura gets neglected.
Robin Tunney gives a surprisingly good performance as Laura Parish, showing a lot of compassion and while she no doubt loves her husband, she also expresses her fear of the Zodiac Killer, which Parish thinks is unfounded, and at the way she is being neglected as her husband is so caught up in work. As the film is set in the 1960's, both Chambers and Tunney give very good portrayals of what might be seen as stereotypical husband and wife roles. Following in the footsteps of his older siblings, Rory Culkin does a good job in his role as Johnny Parish, however he also seemed a bit too young to figure out the various clues that are in the film. William Mapother is underused as inquisitive reporter Dale Coverling.
Aside from "The Zodiac" being a film based on real events, it is interesting to watch a thriller set some time ago, before all the advanced technology that the police seem to have at their disposal these days in other films and television programs. The murders are all shown and quite saddening, as there is a brief moment of build up before the characters deaths, then the Zodiac Killer makes his presence known before killing them, so you get to experience their fear also, particularly the opening scene murder.
So while "The Zodiac" probably won't change your life, it is a very good thriller with a difference, a hot lead, and some tense moments, which are made even more chilling because the film is based on real events, and apparently, the Zodiac Killer is still out there. Scary huh?
"The Zodiac" (2005) focuses on a fictional lead detective, a man named Matt Parish (Justin Chambers), his wife and his young, never smiling, son who fixates on his dad's detective work. The plot thus gets sidetracked onto this fictional family, their home life, and how this unsolvable case affects each of them. And we have lots of filler scenes with archival footage of the era, including the moon landing, Vietnam, Nixon, but precious little about the Zodiac. The film thus comes across as tedious, trite, and largely irrelevant, lacking suspense and tension.
Visually the film trends dark with a moody tone, both appropriate for the topic. Casting and acting are acceptable except for the annoying and unnecessary William Mapother. Cinematography and production design are competent. But the music is overly dramatic.
My impression is that the film's producers wanted to capitalize on this famous case with the word "Zodiac" in the title. The film could then show how the phantom killer, never seen, always in the background and obscured, could affect the lives of ordinary people in the community. The result is a mostly generic, opportunistic script that could be applied to almost any unsolved serial killer case.
"The Zodiac" is actually focused in the dramatic story of a detective that becomes obsessed by the case and practically forgets his former beloved family. The plot of the serial killer is based on a true story of a criminal in the Bay Area of California that has never been even identified by the police; therefore the movie gives the sensation of disappointment in the end since the hunting is unsuccessful. The production is careful, using cars, costumes and some footages of the 60's, the actors and actresses have good performances, but the screenplay goes nowhere. My vote is six.
Title (Brazil): "O Zodíaco" ("The Zodiac")
There's a lot of scorn poured on Bulkley's movie, which on the surface is understandable given that it's neither an in-depth examination of the actual case or a terrifying serial killer thriller. It's cause isn't helped, either, by David Fincher's meticulous version that followed in 2007. Yet there's value in The Zodiac, even if it's difficult to recommend with confidence.
The Bulkley's choose to focus primarily on one policeman and his family and how they are deeply affected by The Zodiac case. This involves Detective Matt Parish (Chambers) coming under increasing pressure at work, where his superiors are demanding a result, and at home, where his wife Laura (Tunney) grows frantic/frustrated by the day and his young son Johnny (Culkin) becomes unhealthily fascinated by the case.
The director paints a very good period backdrop whilst deftly filling the narrative with a sense of paranoia that surely enveloped the Bay Area as The Zodiac enacted his crimes. The killer's face is rightly never seen, though we get POV shots from the killer and glimpses from afar or from behind him. While interestingly there's a link between The Zodiac and young Johnny as each go about their respective ways.
The colour schemes used at various points of the story are well thought out, providing the film with a documentary feel for the exteriors and a saturated neo-noir universe for interiors. There's a spareness to the production that really aids the subject matter. Cast performances are fine, with Tunney really getting to grips with her character, and Suby's score rumbles along ominously.
Not to be sought out by blood hounds or Zodiac historians, this is still a better than average picture that holds some interest as it rises above its modest budget limitations. 6/10
If you're a Zodiac scholar, as I am, you will not be disappointed. Even more than that, though, is the way the film captures the very essence of what it was like to grow up in the Sixties, and not in the 'in your face' way that most films ('Forrest Gump' comes to mind) do these days.
We did not live our lives to a soundtrack done by Buffalo Springfield and Creedence Clearwater - though those bands were there, there was a lot more music around that's not as overused as in today's films, and 'The Zodiac' filmmakers get it.
Not everyone wore tie-dye & flashed peace signs all the time, some of us owned a plaid Thermos, people wore Capri pants.
I was unable to catch an anachronism, which is my favorite thing to pick on.
The horror of the Zodiac crimes taking place against this very accurate background is compelling.
Solid 9 for getting it exactly right.
There are hints that the son connects with the killer - like a profiler, as he seems to collect everything he can on the crimes including breaking into his fathers office, but this not explored.
The policeofficer's wife and son are going to leave him, them nothing happens, it was like it didn't happen and they were all back together again.
The ending of this film is what is the most disappointing. Ending with the Zodiac threat to kill school children on the bus and the police tailing them. This movie could have been so much better.
P.S. The night camera work is way to dark to see what was going on
The only reason I didn't rate this a 1 is some of the acting talent involved. The script was more like a soap opera than a movie about a serial killer, focusing more on the obsessive behavior of a policeman and his indifference to the potential danger of his wife and equally obsessed son.
There was very little time devoted to Zodiac, the way he taunted the police, the actual investigation, suspects or any other aspects about the case that make it one of the most intriguing mysteries of the 20th century.
Although most of the depictions of the murders were eerie and well-done, the real focus of the film is how the taunting nature of the killer and the lack of hard evidence plays havoc with the psyche of lead detective Matt Parish (Chambers). As the case wears on and the pressure mounts to catch the killer, Parish begins to distance himself from his caring wife (Prison Break's Tunney) and odd son (Culkin). Ironically it is near the end of the movie that we see one of the more dramatic scenes, when a drunken, frustrated Matt comes home to a locked house and orders his wife to leave the door unlocked, not to bow down to the psycho. She looks at him incredulously and screams at him, saying "he's still out there and he knows where we live". Matt stumbles out of the house, and a montage of the dramatic events that were taking place in the world at the time (moon landing, Vietnam, the Manson slayings) is run while the song "Time(Has Come Today)" by The Chambers Brothers plays. It leads up to a chilling scene of the killer donning his creepy hooded costume and committing one of his more heinous killings, viciously stabbing two lovers to death in a field in broad daylight. Powerful stuff.
Unfortunately the movie wraps up rather quickly after that, but it did leave some indelible moments. It was a serial killer flick from a different perspective, and I applaud the director for trying something new. "Time" will soon tell if David Fincher's soon-to-be re-leased version carries more weight and delivers on the killer's last words that he is "waiting for a good movie about me". This film may not be directly about him, but it's still pretty good.
But here the movie fails. The lead (Karev from Grey's Anatomy) is playing well, but doesn't really have much role to play. Just a work alcoholic cop trying to catch a guy that leaves no useful evidence. His wife, predictably, doesn't like being left on second place and tries to leave him. His work suffers. The cop's kid shows promise as he is both curious and intelligent. Alas, his mother discovers this and with a terrible "Oh my god" ends this plot line.
All in all, a rather accurate yet boring description of the insides of a police case from the point of view of the cop. And no, you don't get to see the Zodiac :-P
The Zodiac cannot compete with the excellence of wonderful films on the chart. However, it isn't a bad film. It actually brings a close up to The Zodiac himself and not like those books by Graysmith that are highly exaggerated along with his negative views on why Arthur Allen is The zodiac when in reality, it has already been Proved that allen was not the zodiac. Not one film has given me a closer look about a real life serial killer as most of them aren't all as well as The Zodiac movie. Simply ignore the flaws and errors since it's only a movie and things are usually changed, which was only the names and some fact, and focus on one thing, The Zodiac and you'll get a closer look to the serial killer himself without ever knowing who he really was. A film to do that is worth another watch. Amazing thriller and by all else, a great film.
I went to bed so angry that I had wasted my money and an hour and a half of my time on this.
Weak story, weak characters, huge gaping holes where characters relationships just totally change, no suspense, not even any entertaining gore and on top of it all no ending (which I've never had a problem with in films, until this one).
I really cant put this film down enough-if I was able to rate it at 0 out of 10, I would have.
I beg of you not to see it.
Right from the beginning, they used the wrong young actor in the car scene, so on, so on. Well I've had my say! Good to waist a couple of hours. But don't expect a Citizen X or in the like of the above mentioned style directing and acting.
Would have been good to see the methods of researching from the police detectives and forensic scientists as well as a portrait of the serial killers mind and behavior made by the polices psychiatrist
This movie does not portrait a thorough investigation; it's more of a police drama.
Giving it a 2 or a 3 because I fell I have actually lost I.Q points watching this film
Mainly it's a look at the Zodiac killer's doings and how they might have affected the detectives and their families who investigated the crimes. Serious, thoughtful, not exciting - there simply wasn't enough information to work with. No big clues about the Zodiac's identity, no major show of new evidence, zip, zilch, nada.
They could have at least livened it up with some sex scenes or grisly aspects of the murders (why else are we watching this stuff?) but that didn't happen. No half-naked bimbos running around screaming, no bloody special effects. The lead detective seemed somewhat frustrated by the lack of evidence, I was hoping for a good S&M sex scene between him and his wife, but no luck there.
Looks like the Zodiac got away again - this time from the director.
The build up of tension was at the same level throughout the movie right up to the end, very little was revealed about the killer and so many questions were left.
One could have fallen asleep during the movie to wake during the murder scenes, there wasn't much to keep your attention.
Having read a few other comments, the killer was found.
Maybe if this movie was made after this with the killer caught, it might be watchable.
Update: No longer do we need to wait thanks to the superb 2007 version!
I felt like i just wasted 90 minutes of a movie that was neither going to teach anything nor at provide any entertainment.
If you want to know more about the zodiac, you can find all the information you need on the web, not worth watching this movie.. it has a weak ending and the story/acting isn't very engrossing.
The only good point of this movie as far as i'm concerned is that it is the best of the zodiac films that have been produced, but that isn't saying much.