Zodiac Reviews

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Super Reviewer
April 2, 2007
I stayed up REAL late watching the DVD and I almost never do that. Couldn't turn it off. In the end, sure, a bit of a shaggy dog story but I didn't mind.

Quibble - they might have explained the Melvin Belli character a bit more. I got that he was some celebrity lawyer but I didn't think it was set up well.
Super Reviewer
½ August 4, 2010
A weird trend in films emerged during this time that dealt in unsolved crimes, conspiracies, and murder ("The Black Dahlia," "Hollywoodland," etc.). Of these films, the only one that was ever taken seriously was David Fincher's "Zodiac". The film deals in the murders perpetrated by the self-named Zodiac Killer, as he terrorizes citizens in San Francisco, and sends letters to the Chronicle. His letters get the attention of a reporter (Downey Jr.) who starts to unravel, and a cartoonist (Gyllenhaal) who tries to solve the crime as a way to avenge his friend. What sets this film apart from the others is its adept handling of the historical facts that make up the mystery of the Zodiac. Though the mystery has never been solved, and probably never will be, its best suspect is followed throughout the bulk of the film. The ending, though not concrete in its assertions, leaves you feeling satisfied. Many of the more thrilling scenes are handled expertly by Fincher: when the Zodiac kills his first victims, when he corners some kids at the beach, when Gyllenhaal suspects the man leading him into the basement might be the actual killer. Every one of these scenes leaves you feeling frightened and tense, making this one of the more interesting and horrifying films to deal with real life crime. Some of the actual facts and theories that the cartoonist follows, become confusing, as Gyllenhaal's character leaps from suspect to suspect, trying to piece together the facts of these crimes while also adhering to fingerprinting and handwriting samples that often don't match his suspects'. This film is an amazing chapter in the investigation of the Zodiac, and hopefully, one day, will find its addendum and be solved.
Super Reviewer
½ January 21, 2011
Excellent drama.
Nikhil N.
Super Reviewer
April 15, 2014
Fincher is probably one of my favorite directors in Hollywood, and it is movies like Zodiac that solidify him as such. The characters in this movie are ridiculously well developed. For a dialogue heavy thriller, Zodiac is every bit as entertaining as an action movie- and it is twice as engrossing. The movie is ultimately a tale about obsession. It chronicles one man's exhausting search for truth, even as his obsession begins to get the better of other parts of his life. The protagonists in this movie are sucked into the intrigue and mystery surrounding the Zodiac Killer, and Fincher captures this intensity and desperation perfectly. At times frightening, at times frustrating, Zodiac is the best police procedural I have ever seen. Gyllenhaal and Ruffalo deliver the script perfectly and manically. And in their borderline hysteria, the viewer is effectively and equally entranced as the characters.
Super Reviewer
½ March 9, 2011
Robert Graysmith: Just because you can't prove it, doesn't mean it's not true.

"There's more than one way to lose your life to a serial killer"

I've now seen Zodiac twice, and although I liked it and thought it was good the first time around; I have an all new respect for Fincher's film. Zodiac is a compelling thriller about the Zodiac killer, that brought fear across the San Francisco area in the 70's. It's all true and based on case files. This isn't a thriller in the typical sense. There's not a lot of action.  We're shown a few killings in the beginning, but that's about it. From there, it's a lot of talking and a lot detective work. The film has a nice atmosphere to it. It's more chilling looking back at the film after watching it, then actually during the film itself. You see how close they were afterwards and not during, which is exactly what happened in the real situation.

This follows the media and detectives that got there's lives sucked into the killings of the Zodiac. The Zodiac was an attention seeker and serial killer killer. He started with killing lone teenagers, but he brought more fear through his letters to the newspaper. He threatened to off kids on the bus and go on mass killing spree. He took credit for killings that the police didn't think were actually him. He was perplexing and hard to track. One man gets his life sucked into it deeper than anyone. Robert Graysmith is a cartoonist at a San Francisco paper when the Zodiac starts his killings. After years of the police not being able to find him, Robert begins doing his own investigation work.

This has a phenomenal cast from top to bottom, with the big ones begin Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr, and Mark Ruffalo. The direction by David Fincher is what makes this movie so compelling though. He's great with these type of thrillers that get into the minds of people. This is a lot more in the style of Seven, then it is Fight Club, but you see a lot of both films in the style of this one. 

Overall you can't go wrong watching Zodiac. It's an amazing film from one of our great modern directors. If you're into serial killer type stories, this is a can't miss.  
Super Reviewer
June 19, 2012
David Fincher's crime thriller 'Zodiac' is one of the best the genre has ever seen. The screenplay is top notch and all the acting is perfect, especially from an excellent Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo. Fincher keeps you engaged and enticed for the entire runtime, however long that may be, and its all worth your time. 'Zodiac' does sacrifice so much emotion for cold hard facts, but you easily look past it when you realize how entertaining this movie really is. A great movie from a great director.
Super Reviewer
March 17, 2007
Telling the story of a serial killer who terrorized the San Francisco bay area in the late 60s and early 70s,The narrative switches between the frustrated detectives that seem to hit a dead end every time they uncover a promising suspect and the obsessive-compulsive journalist who cannot allow himself to let the murders remain unsolved. It looks fantastic, Fincher bringing his trademark brooding atmosphere to a frighteningly cold blooded series of crimes (although for me the most disturbing murder scene actually took place in broad daylight) and the top notch cast all deliver. Those who need their stories to be tied up at the end in a nice big bow may not appreciate the open-endedness of the conclusion, but it is based on a true story, so what're you gonna do? It's perhaps lacking the character of Fincher's best and the film suffers greatly once Downey Jr. disappears from the screen as he brought some much needed colour to the story. Very much like All The President's men, it's a brilliantly made but ultimately rather dry and over long affair that's fascinating on first viewing but offers little in the way of rewatch value.
Super Reviewer
½ September 18, 2011
I LOVE THIS MOVIE!!! I find the whole story about the Zodiac killer to be very fascinating, and this movie delivers as it tells its story.
Super Reviewer
April 30, 2011
Zodiac is a pure masterpiece and is one of David Finchers best, and is slso one of the greatest mystery films ever made. The plot was tremendoys, it has so many twists and turns and so many meanings that Zodiac leaves you with questions, and it was like watching Inception, the film makes you think and work things out for yourself. The cast was perfection, one of Jake Gyllenhals best and certainly Mark Ruffolos best performance to date. This movie is like a puzzle, which we try to put together and think about, and I completely recommend watching it twice, because with each viewing you learn more, and with each viewing I love it even more.
Super Reviewer
June 23, 2011
This was a really good film. I was on the edge of my seat and the fact that it's a true story is an even more scary thought. All of the cast were exceptional.
Super Reviewer
June 11, 2007
Zociac isn't the most interesting of Serial Killer films, but of course it is based on true events and without ever clearing up for sure who the Zodiac actually was, the invfestigation is concentrated on and of course very drawn out as a result.

Still a good watch for those of you who like to follow true crime investiagtions.
Super Reviewer
March 14, 2011
An intense mystery based on a true story that will drag you on an endless trail of clues. The film goes to show that in real life, justice is not always served.
Super Reviewer
January 7, 2011
I understand it's hard to love David Fincher's "Zodiac", a three hour procedural drama about one of the most notoriously unsolved murder sprees in American crime history; but it's something that I found uncommonly compelling. Fincher's film is all about atmosphere. He takes such care in crafting the time periods and presenting the accurate facts that there is always something to see, hear and feel. The theme of obsession is the string running all the characters and events together, proving to be the most powerful motive for murder or salvation. The film is wonderfully acted by Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr and Mark Ruffalo and the groundbreaking period digital photography is gorgeous. I think what people fail to notice with "Zodiac" is that this is not a serial killer film. This is a zeitgeist film about a time in American crime where everything was in flux and psychology was demanding a seat at the table. It was such an abstract concept for these cops at the time that denying it meant having this mystery stay unsolved forever. "Zodiac" is engaging and unique.
Super Reviewer
June 9, 2010
Zodiac is another David Fincher masterpiece he returns to form with this film. Combining thrills, with suspense; Fincher creates real life horror about the infamous Zodiac Killer who terrorized the San Francisco area, this film is a real thriller in the purest sense of the word, and is based on a truly terrifying fact. Based on Robert Graysmith's book of the same name, Zodiac is a tense, thrilling even at times downright horrifying look at the Zodiacs reign of terror. David Fincher's crafts his film to create something that really breaks the rules of Thriller, Mystery, Horror. When I've first seen this film, I thought it was totally different from any other thrillers that I've seen in the past. The only explanation is that Zodiac is a real Horror story, a truly terrifying moment in history, much like when Jack The Ripper stalked the streets of London in 1888. A terrific cast adorns this thrilling film and its a tense film filled with moments of sheer terror and it will keep you guessing until the end. Simply a terrific film. Keep in mind that this is a real Horror story as the Zodiac Killer did exist, a thriller like no other.
Super Reviewer
½ June 5, 2010
Between December 1968 and October 1969, a serial killer, who had dubbed himself the Zodiac, operated in Northern California, murdering a confirmed five people, though other potential victims have been proposed. Up until 1974, the killer continued to taunt police and the media with a series of gloating and threatening handwritten letters, in one of which he threatened to execute an entire bus-load of school children. The Zodiac seemingly derived his name from a brand of wristwatch, and his incentive to kill suggested by a cryptogram he sent along with one letter was taken from 'The Most Dangerous Game,' a famous short story from Richard Connell, in which a game hunter turns to hunting humans because they are the only quarry worthy of his skill. Despite the best efforts of the San Francisco Police Department, and others investigators such as author Robert Graysmith, the true identity of the elusive Zodiac remains, to this day, a mystery.

After the success of such films as 'Se7en,' 'Fight Club' and 'Panic Room,' director David Fincher has turned his sights away from straight thrillers and fallen upon Robert Graysmith's true-crime novel, 'Zodiac.' Adapted by James Vanderbilt, the film opens on July 4 1969, with the shooting of Michael Mageau (Lee Norris) and Darlene Ferrin (Ciara Hughes) by a perpetrator who remains hidden in the shadows. After the killer sends a taunting letter to the 'San Francisco Chronicle', crime reporter Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.) is assigned to follow the case, whilst newspaper cartoonist Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) takes an active interest in the killer. After the Zodiac's fifth confirmed murder, of taxi driver Paul Lee Stine on October 11 1969, Inspector David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) of the SFPD attempts to trace the serial killer, his desire becoming an obsession that will later threaten to destroy his life.

It is possible that some viewers, expecting a slick and stylish Hollywood serial killer film, will be disappointed with 'Zodiac,' since Fincher has chosen to focus largely on how the hunt for the killer has destroyed the lives of those trying to bring him to justice. We linger on the victims themselves only briefly, and the homicides themselves are all orchestrated well before the mid-point of the film. By constantly reminding us that this is a true story, and by keeping the attention to detail as accurate as possible, Fincher has masterminded an entirely engrossing police procedural, in which the obsessive but futile search for the murderer is more absorbing than the murders themselves. With the real-life case being an unsolved mystery, the ending does not reach any solid conclusions on the identity of the killer, though, by laying out the evidence as it is, the film does manage to convey a certain sense of resolution, effectively avoiding the anti-climax that seemed almost inevitable. A meticulous recreation of the crime investigation, consisting largely of characters' personal and phone conversations, the film-making style of 'Zodiac' draws obvious parallels with such films as Alan J. Pakula's 'All the President's Men (1976),' of which Fincher confesses to being a fan.

The acting from everybody involved in 'Zodiac' proves a real asset. Downey Jr. is excellent as the sarcastic and darkly humorous reporter Paul Avery, who would later descend into worrying bouts of alcoholism. Mark Ruffalo, delivering perhaps the finest performance in the film, is perfect as David Toschi, who tried for many years, in vain, to bring the Zodiac to justice, the case threatening to consume his life. Jake Gyllenhaal, though perhaps lacking the presence of his co-stars, is notable as Robert Graysmith, whose fixation with the serial killer would lead him to write two best-selling non-fiction books on the subject, upon which this film was based.

John Carroll Lynch is disturbingly unsettling as Arthur Leigh Allen, the number one suspect for the murders, and the only person to have been seriously investigated by detectives. Despite being faced with seemingly damning amounts of circumstantial evidence, Allen vehemently denied being the Zodiac killer, and handwriting comparisons (and, more recently, DNA testing) yielded negative results. Graysmith, however, was convinced that Allen must be the killer, and the scene in which he tracks him down to "look him in the eye? to know that it's him" is extremely effective; it is the moment in which Graysmith frees himself from the grasp of the Zodiac's enigma, allowing him to recapture his life. In order to keep the identity of the killer in doubt, Fincher employed the use of three different actors to portray the Zodiac for the various murder scenes (Richmond Arquette, Bob Stephenson, John Lacy), based on witness descriptions from each of the incidents. Notably, John Carroll Lynch is not used in any of these sequences.

Excellent cinematography by Harris Savides beautifully captures the mood and style of the late 1960s and early 1970s in America. Interestingly, to shoot the film, Savides made use of the digital Thomson Viper Filmstream camera, which has previously been employed by Michael Mann in such films as 'Collateral' and 'Miami Vice,' though 'Zodiac' is the first feature-length Hollywood film to be shot entirely in the Viper's uncompressed digital data format. Though I would have expected digital cinematography to detract from the nostalgic atmosphere of the film, I really didn't even notice the difference. A mixture of popular songs from the era, and original music by David Shire, also complement the film well.

I'll stop short of referring to David Fincher's 'Zodiac' as a masterpiece, but, needless to say, it is truly a remarkable film that will, no doubt, continue to hold firm for many years to come.
Super Reviewer
½ May 25, 2007
Zodiac begins on the 4th July 1969 with the Zodiac killers second attack when he shot Darlene Ferrin and Mike Mageau at a lovers lane in Vallejo and ends a decade later, sustaining suspence and occasional horror throughout. From the director of the cult classic Fight Club and the medicore Panic Room, David Fitcher hits an nerve and doesn't let go. Form the begining of the of the investigation the audience is riveted to the hunting of the hunter, the real life, still unkown serial killer who called himself 'Zodiac'. And as the investigation runs it course with speculation running wild, the audience becomes evermore obsessed as the investigators are. None more than the character of Jake Gyllenhall, who gives a increasingly frantic performance over shadowed by the sensational witty acting of the masterful but underarted Robert Downey JR. Dotted throughout this masterful crime drama, are scenes of pure horror as the killer feeds what drives him and the investigators get closer to unveiling the Zodiac. (SOPILERS) The fact that the crime is ultimately unsolved adds to the mystery, even though a possible answer to the killers true identity is offered. I wonder if the actor who played behind the mask was the same actor as the possible Zodiac? This would answer the question of wether or not Fitcher believed himself that the proposed cluprit was in his opinion the real Zodiac killer. Questions remain unanswered, but this obsessive compulsive crime drama electricifies.
Super Reviewer
½ August 10, 2007
Out of the countless serial killer thrillers, Zodiac is fairly unique. Both because it's based on a true story, and because one of the primary characters is a civilian. It's not too often that you see a cartoonist doggedly chasing down leads and sleuthing like a hardcore gumshoe.

What we have seen before, is a story of obsession over catching a criminal, and the impact it has families and careers. That's Zodiac in a nutshell. And as the actual crime is still an open case, in a lot of ways the film lives and dies by how well it portrays those relationships. Thankfully, I found all that interesting.

If I have to nitpick, I'll say that the running time could have been a bit shorter, and Jake Gyllenhal may not have been a perfect fit or his role. He grew on me as the movie went on, but I can think of five people off the top of my head who would have really nailed that character.

Anyway, this is a pretty good movie. Don't expect anything like Se7en or The Silence of the Lambs, but it is thrilling and involving in its own way.
Super Reviewer
½ February 27, 2007
This is definitely one of Fincher's best films, and that's really saying something considering the rest of his output. This movie is an epic study in obsession and fear. Yes, there are deaths depicted in the film, but not that many. When the violence comes though, it is quite realistic, adding to the creepiness of things. Those actually happen during the first third, leaving the rest of the movie open as a police procedural and a nicely done character study. One thing that really got me was that there was some digital effects and CGI being used here. I couldn't tell it. That's how it should be done-as a tool, not a crutch. This film is about atmosphere and capturing the times more than anything-and that's what I loved about it. The aesthetics are great, and to add to it there are great characters played by a great cast with tons of talent. Gyllenhaal (I feel) was a good choice, but wasn't quite as convincing as he could have been. He's great, don't get me wrong, but I think he underplayed the character's obsessiveness just a tad. What really adds to this movie being so effective is that it tells a story which is still technically unsolved. There's a prime suspect, sure, but not enough confidence to call the case closed. Some might dislike the movie because it ends with no closure, and because it's long anyway, but I found it absolutely gripping and fascinating. This is definitely recommended for people who like procedurals and investigations as the focus over gratituous violence and mayhem.
Super Reviewer
November 25, 2009
A great American crime film. It takes the true story of the infamous Zodiac Killer and creates a narrative around it. The film's three part storytelling was both suspenseful and dynamic. The entire cast gave a great effort and made the experience all the more enjoyable. David Fincher's style was slightly tweaked to fit the time period, but it still is very much his film.
Super Reviewer
½ September 29, 2009
A really enjoyable thriller! Fincher's direction is a joy as he paces the story of the Zodiac investigation with great dignity and detail. Not for people who like their thrillers slap-dash and fast-paced, neither is this for people who are expecting a Se7en sequel. Great style, great acting, great film, some dodgy blue-screen moments, but still, great film.
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