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.
"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.
Still a good watch for those of you who like to follow true crime investiagtions.
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.
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.