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Not Your Average Serial Killer Movie (And That's a Good Thing)
evanston_dad26 March 2007
"Zodiac" may frustrate viewers who come to David Fincher's latest film expecting a traditional serial killer thriller. The film begins with a couple of hair-raising and rather brutal recreations of murders carried out by the mysterious killer who terrorized the San Francisco Bay area in the late 1960s and early 1970s. These early scenes are shocking and, compared to the rest of the film, disorienting, because they offer the only time that we come close to seeing events from the killer's perspective. As the film progresses, the Zodiac killer himself fades into the background, and the movie turns into a meticulous and engrossing document of the investigation to track him down, an investigation that includes countless blind alleys and false clues and which to this day has not reached a conclusion. I would be more prone to label the somewhat rambling screenplay as sloppy storytelling if I did not feel that Fincher tells the story exactly as he wants to. The elusive narrative works, because the film is about an elusive villain.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays Robert Graysmith, a cartoonist working for the "San Francisco Chronicle" at the time the Zodiac killer began his gruesome work. He becomes fascinated by the case, and takes it on as a sort of morbid personal hobby long after the police department has given it up as a lost cause. Graysmith eventually wrote the book on which this film is based, and according to his accounts, he discovered enough evidence about one of the suspects in the case to put the police back on his trail years after he'd been cleared for lack of evidence. Other characters come and go. Robert Downey, Jr. does characteristically terrific work as a reporter at the "Chronicle" who grabs his own portion of notoriety through his involvement in the case. Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Edwards play the two detectives in charge of the investigation. Chloe Sevigny plays Gyllenhaal's put-upon wife, who gradually loses her husband to his obsession. All of the actors deliver thrilling performances, many of them against the odds. Since this isn't a character driven movie, many of the characters remain undeveloped, but not, for once, to the detriment of the film. This story isn't about the people involved, but rather about their role in the Zodiac saga; once they've served their purpose, Fincher dispenses with them. Ironically, a film that clocks in at nearly 3 hours exhibits a great deal of narrative economy.

Parts of "Zodiac" are intensely creepy. Fincher effectively uses the rainy San Francisco atmosphere to its maximum potential, and the grimy browns and grays of the production design call to mind Fincher's other well-known films, like "Seven" and "Fight Club." But "Zodiac" is much more grown up than those films, and for an audience to enjoy it, it has to have an attention span. Long scenes are given to analyzing handwriting samples, recreating the scenes of murders, digging through newspaper clippings and files. You can tell that Fincher is fascinated by police work in the pre-CSI era, when fax machines were still a novel invention. He delves into the investigative process with a nearly fetishistic attention to detail, but he makes all of it endlessly mesmerizing. He does his best to bring everything to some sort of conclusion, but the real-life end to the story makes a complete conclusion impossible. This film is more about the journey than the destination, and what a journey it is.

Grade: A
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Good, but not what you'd expect
Wolf30x2 March 2007
Usually when a film gets made about a media grabbing unsolved crime, the resulting movie tends to be overtly sensational and at best remotely connected to what really happened. Considering that director David Fincher's last film about a serial killer was the gripping but deeply disturbing Se7en, his take on the Zodiac killer almost seemed primed to be an extreme, nail-biting thriller.

Instead what he's given us is a well argued thesis on the possible identity of the Zodiac. While there are some very intense scenes, Fincher takes a somewhat unexpected approach on the subject. All of the killings take place pretty early on in the movie, with the bulk of the story centering on the actual investigation into the killer by both the cops and a cartoonist who becomes obsessed with the case. In fact, the depictions of the murders are done in a manner that is fairly reverent towards the victims while still conveying the cruelty of them.

Some people may find themselves disappointed by this two and a half hour epic if they go in expecting the usual serial killer fare. But it's a must see for any fan of Fincher's work, or anybody who likes a good detective story.
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"This is the Zodiac speaking..."
iamkilgoretrout2 March 2007
I have been highly interested and engrossed in the Zodiac killer story for the last 5 years now and I can say, without doubt, that this is the best and most accurate telling of the story. The film presents numerous details that were unknown to me before seeing it. All of these facts and theories are thrown together in a way that strings the viewer along, you think it's someone, then you get new information and that person is no longer a suspect. Fincher really puts you into the life of a detective working on the case. You feel just as excited when new information comes about and are equally disappointed when it leads to another dead end.

The film is beautifully shot (on VIPER digital cameras) and once again, Fincher shows us his wonderfully adept skills with CGI shots. All of the actors shine and truly become their characters. Jake Gyllenhall and Robert Downey Jr. put in excellent performances, as does Mark Ruffalo. I was also pleasantly surprised to see Phillip Baker Hall join the ensemble.

The only complaint I have heard that holds any water is that the film is too long. At roughly 2 1/2 hours, I can see how many would think that is long, but you have to realize that this is an intricate story with deep characters who need to be examined and understood. A standard 90 minute film, or even a two hour cut, would not have been able to tell the story as well. Character motivation and important details would have been left on the cutting room floor.

If you have followed the Zodiac case, you will be happy to see how well done this movie is. If you don't know anything about the case, you will be given an excellent story that will make you want to learn more about it. Regardless, you should do yourself a favor and see this movie. If nothing else, it's better than "Wild Hogs".
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Class Act
cynical220519 May 2007
First up (and it's already been said)...this film is not going to appeal to the crash-bang- wallop-attention-span-of-a-bored-gnat brigade out there. Having read a lot of the reviews here, everyone seems to be divided in two. Love it...hate it. Which way will you go?

Yes, it's long. But let's face it, this is not a film that can be wrapped up in an hour and a half. There's an awful lot of detail involved in this case. David Fincher was very thorough in his research and full marks to him. This is an excellent, compelling film for anyone interested in true crime and general detective work.

I saw this film a few hours ago and was completely absorbed by it. The opening 4th of July sequence is worthy of the ticket price alone. And I challenge anyone to listen to "Hurdy Gurdy Man" by Donovan without a cold chill running down their spine after watching this...

The main performances are excellent - Robert Downey Jr and Jake Gyllenhaal in particular are a standout. Any feminists out there won't be happy with the rather one-dimensional women's roles (and I happen to be female), but this is not what this film is about. It's about a handful of men's obsessive involvement with one case. And these men ARE utterly obsessed. And after so much taunting by the Zodiac with his letters and cyphers, who can blame them for their obsession?

As for the depiction of the murders, they are quite shocking in their brief brutality with absolutely no glamorous or excessive lingering shots of the aftermath. This makes them infinitely more real and much more disturbing...

Combine this with utterly believable dialogue, a superb soundtrack and marvellous production design and you have one classy movie. For all those tired of your average eye and brain-candy fodder...Go see. For those who can't appreciate a class act when you see it, you've missed out...
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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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The fear of the real and the unknown...
TheMovieMark2 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Dark. Moody. Atmospheric. All words to describe a candlelight dinner with Johnny Betts. But these words can also be used to accurately describe David Fincher's latest foray into the serial killer genre.

Zodiac has been on my "most anticipated" list for quite some time, but having watched many documentaries and read several articles on the subject, I couldn't help but wonder how the film could completely keep my interest when I already knew so much about the material. Plus, we're all aware that the case officially remains unresolved, so are we to resign ourselves to accept an unsatisfactory conclusion?

It took no more than the film's chilling opening scene to cast my fears aside and glue me to the seat for 158 minutes. My familiarity with the source material actually heightened my enjoyment because I was surprised at how accurately the film depicted the events. I recognized names and details that I wouldn't have otherwise.

I also feel that not definitively knowing the Zodiac's identity adds more suspense to the story. We're introduced to a number of suspects, and since this is, in part, one man's interpretation of circumstantial evidence, we're allowed to assume that any of the suspects could be the mysterious killer. It's a plot device that effectively keeps the viewer in a constant state of unease.

I know there are multiple theories on the Zodiac's identity, so you can argue that the film ends on an anticlimactic note. But the movie does have focus, and it presents a compelling case against one of the suspects in such a way that it delivers as much closure as you can expect.

The actors are great (especially Downey and his welcome comic relief), the atmosphere is foreboding, and the investigative process is engaging. It may run a little long for some, but I didn't mind the runtime at all. It's a fascinating case, and I wanted all the information the movie was willing to give me.

Zodiac is the kind of film that sticks with you. I was at a friend's house late after the screening, and when I arrived home I saw a lone car's headlights appear from up the street. My heart began to race a little as I hastened to my door. I knew then and there that a new Zodiac killer was in the vicinity, and I had no time to tarry.

It's been a while since a movie instilled that sort of realistic dread, and I don't know if that's a good thing, but it's certainly a sign (no pun intended) of the film's success in heightening our awareness of what kind of real-life monsters might be lurking in the shadows.


Zodiac gives viewers an excellent combination of nerve-racking suspense and desperately obsessed police procedural work. The majority of viewers with even the slightest interest in the case should be riveted. Those of you with a severely small attention span should probably stick to Norbit instead.
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The Stranger Urban Americans Fear: A Killer Playing the Most Dangerous Game
classicalsteve3 April 2007
The era in which Zodiac takes place bridges two eras in urban America. The Zodiac appeared on the tail end of a crime-spree that rampaged across the US in the late 1960's. His settling in the SF Bay Area may be one of a number of social phenomenons that pushed America's view of itself out of an innocent 1950's sensibility and into a harder and darker view that became more prevalent starting in the 1970's and into the 1980's. People, even in urban areas, used to be far more trusting of one another, friendly, and civil. Many of the events of the 1960's gave urban Americans a much more cynical and cautious attitude toward people they didn't know. Don't trust or talk to strangers. Better to sacrifice helpfulness than to wind up dead. People are out to take advantage. At least in urban areas nowadays, it seems, people are much less willing to take the risk to meeting someone they don't know, largely out of fear.

The film Zodiac chronicles the strange unknowable and faceless figure that emerged as a serial killer in Northern California in the late 1960's and early 1970's. He sent letters to the San Francisco Chronicle and other newspapers, outlining his last and future kills, and he revealed he was inspired by the 1930's cult classic "The Most Dangerous Game". The point of view is largely from the side of the press with a character from SF Homicide that is also tracking the case. One character, Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) is an SF Chronicle cartoonist who at first takes an amateur's interest in the case, often bothering fellow beat journalist Paul Avery, played brilliantly by Robert Downey Jr. Only later does the cartoonist engage on his own investigation to reveal the identity of the Zodiac. When Graysmith begins receiving anonymous phone calls with nothing but heavy breathing, you can't help but wonder if he's also playing the same game, and if he may also become one of the hunted.

One of the most brilliant aspects of the film is its pacing. It never lets up and the suspense is always there, which becomes unsettling when you realize that these events actually took place instead of purely in the imagination of a modern suspense novelist. There is an eeriness which pervades the entire film. A car stopping unexpectedly in a nearly-deserted area is more frightening than most scenes in your average low-budget slasher flicks.

I do have a couple of shortcomings to this film. There are a couple of scenes where the cruelty and brutality of the violence is such that not all viewers will be able to handle this movie. I found I did have to turn away at a couple of scenes. Also, there are a couple of moments when the state of the investigation is not made clear. However, even given these shortcoming, Zodiac is a brilliant movie that tackles a subject-matter that probably could not have been brought to the screen during the period it depicts.

The Zodiac came to personify one of the constant fears of living in urban America: a faceless, emotionless killer that comes out of the shadows of a dark alley to commit heinous violence. In the end, we fear strangers because of this, but we end up sacrificing love. It is an ironic aspect of human nature that people can do to strangers what would be almost unthinkable to do to people that we know. In addition to the poor innocent people that were brutally murdered, the Zodiac committed another crime against humanity. He compromised our sense of trust, civility, and in many ways, love for our fellow human beings even when we might not know them.
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David Fincher's best is challenging and not for everybody
nixskits23 November 2009
"Zodiac" is a perfect match of visionary director and hard to condense material. James Vanderbilt did an admirable job of taking a larger than one life story and somehow adapted all these people and events (chronicled in Robert Graysmith's two thorough books on the subject) into a script that works. He should have received an Oscar nomination, along with Fincher, supporting actor Mark Ruffalo (portraying Inspector Dave Toschi) and of course, "Zodiac" itself for best picture. But the silly academy doesn't reward films like this often and I'll bet less than 20% of them even saw it!

As author James Ellroy says on a commentary track, this film is respectful of the victims. The intensity of a murder investigation has rarely been recreated more impressively than here. To compare modern (21st century) technology with what these folks had to work with in the late 60's/70's is to realize "Zodiac", whoever he was, had to be one of the dumb luckiest criminals of all time. His ideas were not original to put it politely and the fact he probably was a child molester really makes him a predator that treated society in general like a little innocent he abused for his own perverse reasons. Men who feel powerless and then get a big gun are the most dangerous fools of all because they're ticked off and want somebody, anybody to pay!
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Fincher's best? No. But still very good
rs2528 February 2007
I am tired of people writing comments like this, "Not Fincher's best". Honestly who cares. We all agree that Fincher's best is either Seven or Fight Club, two outstanding masterpieces. There is a big margin between a film like one of those and a terrible film, and people don't seem to realize that. These people even do this with other filmmakers like Spielberg or Scorsese, the fact that these filmmakers don't reproduce Schindler's List or Raging Bull doesn't mean that their new stuff isn't good, or worth seeing. I think it is a stupid way to comment on a film, eliminating the critic's credibility. I was lucky enough to catch an advanced screening of Zodiac last night, and I must say that at first I was discouraged by two things, some of the comments I have read and the running time. However I am glad to say that I enjoyed this film, very much. It is a solid suspense thriller that pins you to your seat. Being a true story adds quite a lot to the experience, and besides, Fincher did a wonderful job is staying loyal to the story and at the same time adding his unique flavor to it. The cinematography, like every Fincher film, is great, the darkness and griddiness of the story are perfectly portrayed in the film's visual elements. I was surprised by the picture quality of the Viper, the digital camera with which this film was shot. Many people have been criticizing this choice, but I respect it, he is embracing a new technology and making it work. Of course its still not a match to 35 mm, but if quality filmmakers don't start experimenting with it, it will never be. Now the reason why this film falls behind Seven and Fight Club, I think, is because of a problem with the characters. They seem to be a little weak at times. The performances were great, especially Robert Downey Jr., but I think that this film falls short, when it comes to a true exploration of complex characters, which is the key to Fincher's previous films.

So... my advice to everyone is to ignore most of the negative comments and see the film yourself. I found it to be a great story told in a remarkable way, very entertaining, with great performances, and wonderful direction.
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Welcome Back, David Fincher.
tman902 March 2007
Audiences have waited a while for a new piece of work from Mr. David Fincher and now that hiatus is officially over. Straying away from his style that earned him a 'cult' following, he brings out a new side to himself, some techniques not yet observed in his repertoire.

ZODIAC feels like it was made by a perfectionist, everything flows so smoothly. The editing is pinch-perfect. Not only that, but Ficher shows that he is an actor's director as well, directing his cast into true life roles wonderfully. But the credit does not go all on to his shoulders. The actors have a lot to do with that themselves. Jake Gyllenhaal, who plays the author of the book of the same name, plays his character with an irresistible 'nerdi-ness' that is just fun to watch. Then it is amazing to watch Gyllenhaal transform that character into an obsessed wannabe detective, losing all focus and normal aspects of his life. Mark Ruffalo plays a humorous and overworked cop with incredibility. He really gets the job done. Downey Jr., however small his role was, plays on the screen with a witty insanity that brings most of the laughs of the movie. The acting really is a major pro. ZODIAC may come out at a long time slot but the viewer will never realize it because of the film pulling one in, and not wanting to leave until the case is solved. That is why ZODIAC is fantastic and a great welcome back gift from Fincher to not only his fans, but to everyone. ZODIAC is definitely the best film of 2007 so far.
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A great thriller about the true story of the brutal Zodiac Killer
Smells_Like_Cheese24 July 2007
Just a few days ago, my mom and I watched a documentary on the famous Zodiac killer and his victims. It was incredibly interesting so it got me thinking about the film Zodiac that was released this year and lucky enough it was released on DVD today so I rented it. My friend and I just watched it a couple of hours ago and really liked it, especially on how it ended and was over all shot. I thought it was kinda cool how it started off like a documentary type of movie, but then was turning into a thriller that kept you going and guessing, even if you knew the whole story.

In the small towns of California, there are several brutal murders, eventually going onto San Fransisco. These murders are extremely violent and very random, and every time it happens there is a message or sign that is left by the killer that calls himself the "Zodiac". He sends letters to the press on how and where he killed his victims and teases the police that they will never catch him. But Robert, one of the newspaper cartoonist starts to obsess about the killer, who he is and how they can capture him.

With an all star cast, we had absolutely no problem with acting because it was terrific. Jake and Mark held their own very well. The whole story is very chilling and kept you going. The Zodiac Killer is a case that forever will remain a mystery and it was a great idea for a film, Fincher added a Se7en type of feel to this film. It's so funny how I knew the story and how it ended already, but I was actually just waiting to see what would happen in the next scene. I would highly recommend this film to any thriller fan, I'm sure you'll enjoy it, it's a great one for 2007.

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As interesting and as tedious as a thirty-year unsolved case
NumeroOne1 August 2007
*This comment may contain spoilers, but I tried to be as vague as possible, and I think that this movie actually improves if you more or less know the ending.*

When David Fincher's ZODIAC opens with the year "1969" on the screen, a colorful wide angle shot of California, and a song from "Hair" on the soundtrack, we think we know what we are in for: an atmospheric historical epic. Then the film's first murder happens, and we are at the San Francisco chronicle with Jake Gyllenhall and Robert Downey, Jr., just recognizable enough under their period garb.

We see three other murders or almost-murders within the first 1 1/2 hours of this 2 1/2 hour movie, and they are terrifying in a way that few movie murders are: this is one of the only movies that succeeds at making you identify with the victims, and the murder scenes contain enough gore to be convincing but not so much gore that it becomes its own aesthetic, as in other Fincher films.

But ZODIAC is so long that eventually, the murders fail to keep our attention. The movie makes so many leaps through time and recounts so many investigations that lead nowhere, it is easy to forget that it began as an exciting movie.

One could easily argue that the movie has a right to be so uneventful because it is a "realistic" reflection of police procedure and of, well, reality. It is, but one can't help but think, With all the time-lapsing that goes on (it constantly jumps months ahead in the late '60s and early '70s, and then jumps from '73 to '77 to '83 to '91), why couldn't it skip more boring parts? The movie manages to be both too truncated and too thorough.

On a positive note, the digital cinematography by Harris Savides gives the film a consistently interesting look, which is something that many better movies don't have. He gives the film the signature "Fincher" look: saturated pastels in the daytime and a vague yellow-green tint at night. The movie is visually interesting without being calling too much attention to itself, but it's a shame that there's not enough to watch. The actors are sufficient, but the movie has no protagonist and we don't get to know anyone well enough - not even Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhall), who becomes the de facto main character half way through.

The friendship between Graysmith and Paul Avery (Robert Downey, Jr.) - particularly a bar scene in which Graysmith introduces Avery to the merits of girly drinks - is interesting enough, but when Avery ceases to be a major character, we don't get enough of an indication that Graysmith has a life outside of his obsession with the Zodiac case. That may have been the point, but it doesn't work: there is nothing wrong with a plot that goes nowhere if the characters manage to hold our interest, but they don't hold our interest for all 2 1/2 hours, and the movie itself seems to lose interest in Graysmith towards the end. ZODIAC has no pay-off, which wouldn't be a problem if it weren't such a plot-driven film.

Still, it has its moments that nearly redeem it. It's a bit like a friend who tells long and meandering but enthusiastic stories: once you realize that his stories will always be too long, you can focus on the better parts. But his stories are still too long.
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"Zodiac" – A Favorable Sign
frankwhat3 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I knew a good amount about this case going into the film as I always found the famous serial killer ones very interesting when I'd see a TV special about them on. It's also no secret that it's one of the few that went unsolvable to this day, so I really didn't know what to expect from a thriller that pretty much everyone already knows how it'll end. However "Zodiac" was made with a style that allowed the perspective to seem fresh, even if it ultimately wasn't. This is a must see for any true lover of real police work that gets down to the nitty-gritty of what detectives have to go through in actuality. No one's job is glamorized and in fact it's portrayed as the other way around…people get fired, demoted, or simply go flat out crazy. What fascinated me so much about the 'Zodiac Killer' more than the other murderers I've heard about was how he kept changing his methods, which is the main reason why he was able to elude capture for so long. All in all this made for one excellent cinematic puzzle that remained that way.

The biggest surprise of this movie was that David Fincher directed it. Even though he doesn't come out with many new films…with the exception of maybe "Panic Room", those that he does direct are both highly innovative and entertaining. However this effort strayed away from the beaten path and was very different from the type of flick he usually churns out, which turned out to be a worthy venture. While I still prefer the likes of "Seven" and "Fight Club", this was close to them in overall quality. So much detail was taken into account when recreating the time period and crimes. Even though the film was shot digitally they edited it so the appearance had a grainy texture as it did back in the 70's. Also the costumes, settings, modes of transportation, and everything else was matched to a T.

The acting was strictly topnotch here and the biggest kudos goes to Robert Downey Jr. He was absolutely amazing! It's sad that he's at his best when he's playing a character that gets lost in a world of drugs and alcohol as his life has imitated this art for quite some time. Nevertheless he was so amusing to watch and added a playful quirkiness to Paul Avery that I don't think it would've been possible to play him any better. While Robert easily stole the show, a very honorable mention was Mark Ruffalo. He did quite well too and while he usually does, this went above and beyond what he's normally capable of. It's evident that as decent as Mark always has been in the past, there's always room for improvement. Everyone else put in great turns too, and there wasn't a single performance that came close to being unbelievable.

Potential viewers should also be warned, this film isn't for everybody. There are a few very disturbing sequences, that while they aren't even terribly graphic…still manage to be creepy beyond belief due to their realism pertaining to the sheer coldness in which they're displayed. Another factor is the 160-minute running time, which except for the first third when the actual killings are taking place, quickly starts dragging on following that. All the facts had to be included though, so it really couldn't have been much shorter without losing its potency. You also have to remain open-minded if you watch it and can't demand any kind of closure except for what you can conclude on your own; otherwise you'll leave awfully disappointed. Finally it can be argued that only one viewpoint is being showed here and that is the author's, this automatically leads to a bias. I personally think it's the most logical account of events, but if you want an impartial take on what went down, your best bet is to watch a documentary on the history of events that took place.

It's very scary to think that such a gruesome individual could go about undetected for so long and that we'll never get to find out the real answer on who it was behind everything. Fincher's latest contribution is a compelling view for all those with strong stomachs and was eerily refreshing compared to what junk has been streaming out of Hollywood lately. There are many notable guest appearances and is quite simply a well-done movie, even if it did get hammed up a little bit. I personally am going to avoid secluded places for awhile…just in case my astrological sign reads anywhere near the same as it did for all the poor victims.
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Fincher Scores With Real Killer
watbarr2 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Less pyrotechnics and more drama. As far as I'm concerned that is a major plus in a Fincher movie. Rigorous and long but compelling just the same. A script, finally, that is almost totally devoid of cheap shots in a story that lent itself for cheap shots. It reminded me a little of Richard Fleischer's The Boston Strangler with a major difference: most of us know the story remains inconclusive - well, I don't know if "most" I certainly did - but, strangely enough it doesn't detract from its fun moments of suspense and the thoroughness of the proceedings. Robert Downey Jr is superb, immediately recognizable and totally believable at the same time. Jake Gylenhaall's connection with us - the audience - is strong and powerful as well as Mark Ruffalo's cop. All in all one of Fincher's most serious, and best films.
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Surprisingly suspenseful
candy_flesh2 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I admit, I was skeptical that a movie could be made about a 10+ year long murder investigation with very few actual murders and no arrests. I was even more skeptical that it could actually be funny, which I'd read in a review was the case.

All my doubts were for nothing, David Fincher has crafted yet another excellent film.

Here's the best way I can convey how good it is. I'm seven and a half months pregnant. I did not go to the bathroom once, in the nearly three hours of running time.

Wonderful acting, a really well done script that is true to the actual events and characters involved, a lot of dry humor which adds a much needed levity to an otherwise intense drama. The authentic dated look of the film serves to heighten the sense that you are watching real events that happened to real people.

If you are at all a fan of true crime, this film is a must see.
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Zodiac is a terrific, suspense-filled film.
Hmshollyt18 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The characters are compelling, be they reporter, cop or possible killer. Jake Gyllendall gives the best performance. His character takes over the last third of the film, as he gets close to the likely killer(s). A cat and mouse scene with Jake's character at one of their homes had me twisting my napkin into shreds. The outdoor shots of San Francisco make artistic use of vibrant dark colors at night, and glowing pastels during the day. The interiors capture the maze-like process the detectives and reporters must navigate. The murder scenes reminded me of Bonnie and Clyde.

Oddly, all three female victims look and act alike, with the wide-eyed innocence of a 70's airline stewardess. The other female characters are well-drawn.

The possible killer's are fascinating. Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey, Jr. are also excellent.
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Too Long, No Suspense
mike-16741 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Right up until the release of Panic Room, David Fincher could do no wrong. It's truly all over now.

I went to a radio station screening of the movie yesterday, and I was utterly disappointed. Most people know the story of the Zodiac, so a lot of the suspense would be gone. But a good movie about a serial killer needs suspense. The movie starts off brilliantly, focusing on writer Paul Avery's downward decent of obsession with the story and the revelation of the identity of the killer. Robert Downey Jr's portrayal is stunning, and he builds much empathy for the character. The story moves along at a brisk pace, and it keeps you entertained.

Then when you think the movie is over, it just keeps going. It tells the story of the decent of Robert Graysmith, retreading a similar storyline for another hour plus. Jake Gyllenhaal does a decent job, but the audience quickly loses interest. The movie keeps track of time by announcing the time lapse between scenes (2 months later, for example) and as the movie passes the two hour mark you could hear the audience groan every time a new announcement of time was displayed.

Why is this a bad movie? The photography, set dressing, and costuming was top notch. The cast was brilliant. Even the story is compelling, but the editing by Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall seems to be missing. I think Fincher used every frame he shot in the final cut, and that does this movie a terrible disservice. When telling a story you have to read your audience, and make sure they stayed engaged. This movie loses you at 1:50. I hardly ever tell people to stay away from a movie, but I'm telling you to stay away from Zodiac. It will leave you with a bad taste in your mouth.
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Really disappointed
dookiemestrebug23 July 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Goddamn this movie is boring!

I watched it today with a couple of friends. OK, we were liking it at the beginning, but the time passed and passed.... 1:40 of movie and my friends weren't even watching anymore. But I decided to watch it 'til the end. I was thinking that it would have a fantastic ending or something, "how could this have 7.8 on IMDb? There should be something."

Well, the whole movie seems to move in circles, leading to nowhere every time, and the worst part is... they lead to nowhere even in the end!

There are some scenes there that made me wonder what the hell were they doing in here! When he thinks he's in the house with the killer, for example.

I like Seven and Fight Club, but this one, just NO.

This movie is big, is boring and leads to nowhere.

THERE ISN'T AN ENDING. Everyone should know that before watch it.
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wlrdtrvlr19 March 2007
The story of the Zodiac could have been interesting but this movie proved to be a two hour and forty minute bore-fest. Most of the movie is spent on the investigation as scene after scene piles on pieces of evidence for the characters to ponder. The movie tries (and fails) to show you how the investigation adversely affected the lives of a reporter (played by Robert Downey Jr), a homicide inspector (played by Mark Ruffalo), and a cartoonist (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) – hence the poster's tag line "There's more than one way to lose your life to a killer."

The strategy of the movie is this: To show how frustrating and tiresome a murder investigation can be, the movie wants to put you through a frustrating and tiresome experience. To make us feel the way the characters spent long wasted hours sifting through the minutiae of the case in the vain effort to arrest a suspect, the movie puts you through a long 160 minutes of minutiae for you to sift through. The movie worked on me as intended – I was maddeningly frustrated and extremely tired. This is great story-telling? Nope, I'm not buying that pretentious load of baggage.

How did the Zodiac affect the main characters? I wouldn't know. The movie never tries to understand them emotionally or psychologically. The script doesn't give them much to do except sift minutiae and the acting can't seem to rise above the ponderous bleakness stretched across the whole production.

Zodiac is a waste of your time. Wait and see it on late night cable when you need to catch up on some sleep.
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Boring for at least an hour
moviefan-1173 March 2007
Two hours and forty minutes with at least an hour of looking at my watch is not what I want when I go to a movie. There's a half hour sequence which goes nowhere... Which is the point of the movie, I think, that life goes nowhere. The look of Zodiac is flat and empty... Which is the point of the movie, I think, that life is flat and empty. Zodiac's ending is underwhelming... which is the point of the movie, I think, that life is underwhelming. This is the kind of movie that film critics love... while audiences who've actually paid to see the movie will hate. I know I did. After a while you start to think the acting is pretty good because there is nothing else to look at. But there's no getting around the fact that Jake Gyllenhaal is just plain awful. You don't believe him for a second. Save your money, stay at home, sit in a dark room and just think about how bleak, underwhelming, flat and empty life is.
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"This Is The Zodiac Speaking"
Lechuguilla2 March 2007
With those five words and with countless threats and baffling cryptograms, a serial killer terrorized the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 60s and early 70s. In the thirty-five years since the attacks, the only suspect ever officially named in the case was Arthur Leigh Allen. Yet, recent DNA analysis seems to have eliminated Allen as a suspect. Like Jack the Ripper, the Zodiac's identity remains, to this day ... unknown.

There have been a couple of other films about the Zodiac. But Director David Fincher's thriller is by far the most ambitious and high profile. Based on two books by researcher Robert Graysmith, the film starts off with reenactments of some of the killer's attacks. Most of the film, however, follows three men who were involved in the original investigation: Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal), Inspector Toschi (Mark Ruffalo), and reporter Paul Avery (Robert Downey, Jr.).

Procedural in style, the film reminds me of "All The President's Men", with its dogged and maddening investigation by unofficial individuals. Here, Graysmith's obsession with the case matches the obsession of Woodward and Bernstein.

"Zodiac" has a big problem with pacing. Suspense is sporadic at best. Too much dialogue, and unnecessary sequences, especially in the film's middle Act, render considerable boredom. Given the film's length, these talky sequences could easily have been edited out.

The film's production design and overall acting quality are good. I could have wished for more late 60's era music. "The Hurdy Gurdy Man" was good, but not enough. Authentic location shots add credibility to the story as non-fiction. The film's cinematography makes use of the new digital "Viper" camera. As such, "Zodiac" is significant in that it becomes the first major movie to be filmed without conventional videotape or film.

A flabby screenplay interferes with what should have been a riveting thriller. Still, if you are interested in this true life crime case, Fincher's "Zodiac" records the lengthy, and futile, search for the infamous killer who still fascinates us, even after all these years. Unless this case is solved quickly, it will soon become a crime legend of historic proportions, every bit as haunting as the legend of Jack the Ripper.
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Dull movie. Dull, Dull, Dull.
truewest-217 March 2007
Is there some kind of David Fincher fan club stuffing the ballot box here at IMDb with 10 ratings? This director can make a great film. This isn't it. Not even close.

All these over-rated reviews can't save the movie from bombing at the box office… It must infuriate all of those in the Fincher Fan Club that your crowned prince of darkness can't connect with the current cultural zeitgeist like he did so many years ago with Se7en (now THAT was a truly great film). Is the director being misjudged by the culture or is the director misjudging the culture. I say the latter. In any case, this movie doesn't seem to be resonating with a large audience. Why?

Because it's a dull movie. Dull, Dull, Dull. You never get inside the characters' heads. You don't care about them. The actors performances are standard. If there is an interesting story here, the movie doesn't find it. At two hours and forty minutes it is too long.

I just read one 10 rated IMDb review that described Gyllenhaal's performance as unmemorable and flat. How do you give a movie a perfect 10 review then call the central performance of the film unmemorable and flat. Does that make any sense at all?

You know, it's okay to criticize a favorite director if he makes a dud. If you praise one of his worst movies as a perfect movie, you are only hastening the director's slide into mediocrity.

My advice to the general movie-goer is to disregard any review rating this movie a 9 or 10.

I would have probably rated Zodiac a 5 or 6 but to compensate for all the bogus 10 ratings I'm rating it a 1.
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All the drama and suspense of an autopsy.
sterf17 March 2007
Watching Zodiac is like watching an autopsy. You get to watch the movie dissect the Zodiac case. Parts of evidence are dumped in front of you to look at. The parts pile up as the movie drags on and on and on until you can't stand it anymore. The movie beats any mystery out of the story as it hacks through fact after fact.

After almost three hours the movie stops. The movie doesn't really have an ending, it just stops.

Like an autopsy the dissected parts don't tell even a fraction of the story of a life lived. You will not make any emotional connection to any of the characters.

Save yourself three hours of agonizing boredom. Skip The Zodiac.
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How could this be so highly rated?
hllywdstr8 June 2007
I just don't understand this high rating for Zodiac. There has to be some kind of mistake. I saw this with a group of friends when it first came out and there wasn't any one of us who remotely liked this movie.

No story. Bland Acting. Jake Gyllenhaal was not believable. Running time was way too long. It felt like we were watching a bad late night cable movie. This movie stank.

Was it supposed to be a suspense film? If so, it wasn't very suspenseful. Was it supposed to be a character study? If so, none of the characters proved to be very interesting. The handling of the subject matter was muddled at best.
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Read the negative reviews before you waste your time
zxzx669 March 2007
Se7en and Fighclub are great movies. David Fincher's latest, Zodiac, has been getting great reviews. I couldn't wait to see the movie. About an hour or so into it, I couldn't wait for it to end. It really angered me. I kept thinking, how could so many critics love this? How come I'm hating it so much?

The film doesn't look or feel like previous David Fincher films. I guess it's commendable that he's trying to do something different. The movie, though, isn't good. I'm convinced, that if he had used a pseudonym, the exact same movie would not have gotten the reviews that it did. David Fincher's reputation gives him some kind of pass from the majority of film critics. If the exact same movie was listed as being directed by someone like Gary Fleder the same critics would probably be calling this movie out for the long winded pointless choppy unemotional anti-thriller that it is.

I've never seen a movie in which I so disagreed with the reviews that I had read. So I went back and instead of skimming the reviews for whether the reviewer liked it or not (the majority of reviewers did like the movie even if they thought it was too long), I read the details and later found a lot of negative reviews.

Go to a site like rottentomatoes.com and read some of the negative reviews; even the favorable reviewers write things like "overlong and lacking dramatic focus… too short on suspense… lapses in storytelling that don't seem like bold artistic choices… the movie's a sprawling mess… zodiac was an interminable bore… there's something strangely flat and enervating about the picture… exhaustion kicks in to the point where we're not sure what we're looking at… an exercise in frustration… I've never seen a movie so full of dead ends… one of the dullest of these films to date…. Zodiac runs an astonishing two hours and 40 minutes, and it feels like it." Each one of those quotes is from a different review.

These reviews sum up for me the movie that I experienced. I wish I had read them before I had wasted almost three hours on Zodiac.
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