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Zodiac (SE)
DVD disk
01.04.2008 By: Sturdy
Zodiac (SE) order
Director:
David Fincher

Actors:
Robert Downey Jr.
Jake Gyllenhaal
Mark Ruffalo

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A mysterious serial killer known as the Zodiac terrorizes four counties in California over the course of several years. However, further investigation into the killings shows that he may not have been responsible for as many killings as once thought. Unfortunately, the investigation will consume the lives of everyone involved.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I donít find the story of the Zodiac to be interesting enough to make into a film. There are so many facts of the case that are still up for debate that we arenít even sure how many people he killed. Some say he only killed four, some say itís over 30. In the hands of a less capable director, the boring nature of the famous serial killer would make for a boring film, but David Fincher manages to make a gripping and intense film despite telling a story that is neither gripping nor intense.

Itís important that movies like this are put into historical context since in this day and age of CSI and the internet, itís easy to forget that only forty years ago that technology didnít exist. Fincher knows this but used human emotions and outstanding character development to show it. More time is put on the people investigating the crimes than the actual crimes. This isnít a horror movie or a ridiculous slasher film. Itís a carefully crafted, well played mystery/suspense film directed by a master in the genre.

Mr. Fincher was not alone in his efforts as he gets outstanding performances from Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo and every other cast member. Each actor does a fine job of gradually falling apart while studying the case and that helps the audience understand the effect the Zodiac had on the people at the time. Fincher puts time into actually investigating the murders, which puts pressure on the actors to carry the suspense and intensity. I was impressed with all of their performances and with lesser actors, it would not have worked.

The unfortunate thing about the Zodiac killer is that they never officially caught him. Obviously, thatís depressing in and of itself, but when translated on film that can make for a depressing movie. I would imagine that has something to do with the lackluster performance of the film. American audiences want the bad guy to get caught, and then to pay for the crimes he committed. Not getting that reminds people that the good guy doesnít always win and sometimes the bad guys get away with it.
THE EXTRAS
Commentary with David Fincher: David jumps right in and breaks down every shot. He gives you all the information you want to know and then some. Itís a good listen and is perfect for anyone interested in making films. However, it gets a little dry at times and it would have been nice to have someone else in the room for him to bounce comments off of.

Commentary with Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., Brad Fishcer, James Vanderbilt and James Ellroy: I hate to complain about a commentary with so many great names in it, but this track got confusing and lacked some continuity. First, Jake and Robert are doing a separate commentary and the other guys are doing theirs with the two spliced together. Jake and Robert are fun to listen to, but they lack focus and donít really have anything to talk about. The others have better things to say, but they lack the personality of the other two. I would have liked a commentary with Robert, Jake and David Fincher, much like the FIGHT CLUB commentary.

Zodiac Deciphered (54:12): This is kind of like a making of documentary taking you from script to the screen. Itís pretty good, although it drags in places. There are a couple of deleted scenes in there that are a nice addition.

Visual Effects of Zodiac (15:19): ZODIAC isnít a CGI movie, but there are some special effects used in the movie. This feature takes a look at them and it does a really good job because it shows the effects seamlessly from concept to finished product, which helps the audience understand what went into making the effects.

Pre-visualization (6:31): This is broken into three scenes, each showing the computer ďpre-visualizationĒ with split screen. Itís pretty boring, but itís nice to compare how they thought the scene was going to look and how it eventually ended up.

This is the Zodiac Speaking (102:11): This is an exhaustive look into the real events in the Zodiac case. It features interviews with detectives that worked on the case and they detail every little thing about the Zodiac. Itís ok, but only people fascinated with the case will really appreciate it.

Prime Suspect (42:33): I donít think thereís much question after this film that Arthur Leigh Allen was the Zodiac. I know the case is still open and there are a lot of facts up for dispute, but listening to people that knew the guy and investigated him, itís clear that he was the guy. This is the gem of the special features and is as close to closure as youíre going to get on the case.

There are also some Previews
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
THE ZODIAC is not for everyone. Itís an intelligent investigation into the Zodiac killings and not just a whodunit mystery film. The long run time is merited with the depth of the investigation, but that might scare some people off. However, itís worth the time and this one comes highly recommended.
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