Robert Downey Jr.
One of ZODIACís biggest successes is its atmosphere and setting. From the old style logos to the subtle use of CG to fill in the San Francisco backdrop, the movie completely captures the 60s and 70s down to the smallest detail, which goes an incredibly long way towards the filmís authenticity. (The use of music from the period also borders on Scorsese-levels of greatness, especially Donovanís Hurdy Gurdy Man.) Fincher again demonstrates his mastery of the visual medium, especially with mise en scŤne and chiaroscuro (to quote my professor). Thanks to the new VIPER hi-def camera, everything looks gorgeousóthe overhead shots of the city, the gritty street scenes, even the murders look disturbingly great. However, unlike his previous films, Fincher subdues his moving camera and doesnít call attention to the visuals, aside from a few impressive shots. In ZODIAC itís the smaller things like framing and lighting that go a long way to creating a substantially unsettling mood.
The prospect of David Fincher returning to the serial killer genre is exciting, but this is a completely different movie than SEVEN. While thereís a handful of scenes filled with genuine suspense, ZODIAC is more of a drama/mystery than an outright thriller. (Itís also surprisingly funny in spots.) Instead, its top priority is to present a thorough account of the multi-year investigation from multiple points of view. Even on a second viewing the amount of detail presented here is unbelievable, and the fact thatís itís roped in to a coherent, engaging story is more impressive. Because of its piecemeal nature, ZODIAC does have an odd sense of pacing and structure. At nearly three hours, it definitely takes its time, expertly building on facts and characters. (Interestingly enough, it gets its second wind almost two hours in.) Since the case was never officially solved, the film comes to its own conclusions about the culprit, but is honest in its evidence and shortcomings. Whether you take it as an open-ended cinematic case study or simply a detailed drama about crime and obsession, ZODIAC is a highly engrossing, masterful film.
Extra Tidbit: Gary Oldman was originally slated to play Marvin Belli, but was replaced by Brian Cox due to lack of ďgirthĒ (according to Robert Graysmith).