The Zodiac Reviews
Man, you know a film is bad when one of the absolute best things you can say about it is its improvable soundtrack, which, for that matter is rarely used, but hey, I've got to give credit where credit is due, and this film's soundtrack's tastes, while not as sharp as plenty of other '60s-set films' soundtracks, are decent as colorful compliments to what little entertainment value there is in this hardly watchable bore, while Michael Suby's score work, though often overbearing and consistently generic, is decent on a musical level, as well as occasionally genuinely complimentary to the effectiveness of this thriller. What further reinforces the considerably slim quantity of effective moments in this fall-flat psycho "thriller" are stylistic choices within Alexander Bulkley's direction that are, in fact, reasonably commendable, for although most of Bulkley's particularly stylish touches are annoyingly overbearing, if not simply forced, there are, in fact, occasions in which Bulkley gets a tight enough grip on photography and editing to pinch nerves. So yeah, on the off chance you haven't quite caught on by now, I'm stretching more than a yoga coach to find something worthy of compliment within this utter piece of garbage, so if you're expecting to see what I see, well then, pal, you should probably think about not counting your chickens before they hatch. Still, those about as willing as you can be to stick with this disaster are likely to find some highlights, - no matter how scarce they are in quantity - spawned from the ambition that may be overbearing, but sometimes breathes a bit of inspiration into things, and is, well, undeniably understandable. As reflected by the fact that it went on to spawn a great film, this subject matter is promising, and no matter how badly misguided this execution of an intriguing story concept is, you can see a bit of potential, not just within the basic subject matter, but within this film's concept of fabricating the Zodiac Killer case. Now, I'm not saying that bulling up the Zodiac case could ever come close to being a great idea, but this film isn't aiming to be the sprawling, highly factual dialogue thriller that is David Fincher's infinitely superior 2007 show-stopper, but instead an entertainment piece with the intention to put the idea of romanticizing its intriguing subject matter to further augment intrigue. Needless to say, when it came time for this film to put its money where its mouth it, it misfired tremendously, for although this film's high points are hard to deny, the final product is, on the whole, nothing short of awful, with mere mediocrity looming over some of its strongest aspects, including the acting department.
Sure, there are a few decent spots in this film's acting department, with Rory Culkin being particularly decent... I guess as the slightly eccentric son of our protagonist (What, a Culkin doing a decent job of playing a weird-seeming kid? That's almost as outrageous as a masterfully-directed David Fincher film!), but on the whole, whether it be because of the bad writing or simply a lack of acting inspiration, the acting in this film goes as low as awful, and as high as mediocre, with leading man Justin Chambers being, not necessarily bad, but kind of bland as this film's protagonist. Outside of the aforementioned decent occasions, the acting in this film is mediocre at best, and mighty bad at worst, so it's not like you can expect this film to at least be carried by its performances, which isn't to say that the performers are entirely to blame for their not being able to sustain your investment, as I can see it being a fierce challenge to make writers Alexander and Kelley Buckley's material sound good. The Buckleys' script is nothing short of a mess, with weak dialogue and colorless characterization, all backed by aimless plotting that is still just eventful enough for the final product to have the opportunity to drench every last bit of its plotting in overwhelming genericism that reflects the embarassing laziness within the execution of this story concept, while Alexander Buckley's direction, on the other hand, reflects just how overbearingly overambitious this misfire is through some serious subtlety issues. The film very rarely disarms intensity within its atmosphere, and such consistent and overt atmosphere reinforcing just doesn't gel with a minimalist thriller of this type, to the point of making most every moment that doesn't involve a slaying feel cheesily manipulative, and it doesn't help that Buckley will have the guts to toss in an overbearingly over-the-top stylistic choice that, in comparison with the stylistic touches that are genuinely reasonably effective, is abundant in quantity, perhaps in a desperate attempt to obscure the fact that this film isn't even shot well. If Buckley does nothing else to keep up the film's exhausting and generally fall-flat foward momentum, he thins out almost every moment of slow-down to the point of dissipation, thus leaving the film to monotonously slapdash along with only so much focus on exposition, and too much focus on thrills that shouldn't even be there and, in most cases, aren't that. As exhaustingly frantic as this overbearingly busy thriller is, one of the final product's biggest problems is its simply being just too blasted dull, never to where it slips into the dreaded state of being truly tediously boring, but certainly to the point of losing you, time and again, while still sustaining just enough of your attention for you to have the chance to meditate upon the film's other flaws, of which there are way too many to count. This film could have held back and simply fallen flat as too bland to be bad, but mediocrity isn't enough for this trainwreck, which is too mediocrely-acted, poorly-written, exhaustingly overambition and overdone, and dull to be worthy of a little window in your life, so if you've about an hour-and-a-half to yourself to check out the story of the Zodiac Killer, then I would recommend that you try to expand that window and check out 2007's "Zodiac", because this film is nothing short of a colossal disaster.
Overall, the music in this film is alright I guess, being somewhat supplementary to entertainment value, while the occasional effective moment in tension, - complimented by the occasional nifty stylistic choice - and value within this film's subject matter could have made this film decent, something that the final product is anything but, as their is too much mediocrity in the acting department, trite laziness in the writing department, and overbearingness, overstylizing, overambition and dullness within the direction departments for Alexander Bulkley's "The Zodiac" to be any better than an awful misfire of a forgettable thriller that can barely be forgotten quickly enough.
1.25/5 - Awful
I HOPE that the 2007 Zodiac has a proper ending.
THE ZODIAC : After seeing the incredibly badly timed and horrible 1971 film THE ZODIAC KILLER a film that came out during the actual Zodiac killings and after viewing the fantastic 2007 thriller by David Fincher ZODIAC, one of my goals has been to see all four of the films based upon the Case of the Zodiac. After the 1971 film and prior to Fincher's 2007 film, two other Zodiac films were both realised in 2005. One was Ulli Lommel's ZODIAC KILLER and this film THE ZODIAC.
This film despite beating Fincher to the punch examines the case from the perspective of one person affected by the case. Unlike Fincher's film, the protagonist of this film is a detective of the Vallejo Police force in the early days of the Zodiac's killings. The films short run time of this good film cuts short on what could have been a better film. My rating for this film is a solid 60%.