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Review: Zodiac

Zodiac
03.02.2007by:
7 10

Based on Robert Graysmith's book, the film follows the lives of the police investigators and newspaper people involved in trying to track down a serial killer known as the Zodiac during the late 60's in the San Francisco Bay area. Eerie atmosphere, cryptic messages and an in-depth investigation to one of the most notorious serial killers in history ensues.

I wanted to love this film, mostly because of Fincher and the premise of the story, but unfortunately, I only just "liked" it in the end. Technically, it was excellent, the acting was great, the suspense was somewhat predictable and you had a pretty good idea of how the story would end, but I think what did it for me was the film's length...it was just way too long! 160 minutes! Whoa! I don't mind if a movie is long, but if it's this long, it better have some action or some pretty damn good dialogue to fill in all of that time. Instead, we just got a bunch of people being interviewed and Jake Gyllenhaal rummaging through old case files. Not so exciting!

That said, all of the characters were engaging and well played, but what was even more interesting was the way the film developed its characters. First, we got an introduction to everyone and then the story divided itself between the newspaper journalists reporting on the killings and the investigators trying to crack the case. They could have probably made two movies. This was probably why the movie was so long.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays Robert Graysmith, a cartoonist for a newspaper. He was excellent as he portrayed this gentle quality in the beginning of the story and then transitioned that into a quiet obsession about the discovery of the Zodiac's identity. Definitely one of his better roles to date! Robert Downey Jr. is always good! He played Paul Avery here, a reporter for the paper who was following the Zodiac case. I don't know how he does it, but this guy can play a likeable prick flawlessly! The interaction between Downey and Gyllenhaal's characters was fun and interesting to watch as their frienship developed over the years. I don't know what it is about Mark Ruffalo, but his face bugs me, but that aside...he did a fine job as Inspector David Toschi. His determination and frustration really came through with the character.

David Fincher is one of my favorite directors and storytellers. We can all agree that SEVEN and FIGHT CLUB were paramount, heck, even PANIC ROOM was good, too! In terms of story, this isn't one of his better pictures though. Hold on a second! That's not to say that the film, technically, wasn't good, in fact, it was pretty much on par with the rest of his other movies. The atmosphere was dark and gloomy, which created a consistently uneasy feeling throughout. There were moments of suspense and there were other times when I was laughing!

The special effects were wicked; I totally dug the "construction" scene to illustrate time passing by and the decrypting of the cipher in the newsroom at the paper. These scenes had Fincher's stamp all over them! Another detail I appreciated was how police departments from different towns exchanged information, one station had a "Fax" machine and the other didn't, so as a result they would have to mail items to each other. Quite drole! It's amazing they were able to solve any cases back then without all of the fancy gizmos we see on CSI today. Fincher explored this point satirically, which I liked. My only real beef with the film was its length though, I mean, they could have cut about twenty minutes and I don't think it would have affected the storyline one bit. Sigh.

In the end though, I did like the movie! There isn't a lot of action and there are a few disturbing sequences, but nothing where you have to look away or anything like that. I had even read the book and the movie was pretty damn close to it. The Zodiac story is quite disturbing and I think this film really captured the reasons behind all of that. If you’re into long crime thrillers and a fan of David Fincher, you will enjoy this.

Alpha Dog (4/10)
Blood & Chocolate (4/10)
Breach (5/10)
Catch and Release (5/10)
Deja Vu (6/10)
Eragon (4/10)
Factory Girl (7/10)
Grudge 2 (5/10)
Harsh Times (7/10)
Letters From Iwo Jima (7/10)
Music and Lyrics (6/10)
Norbit (6/10)
The Departed (9/10)
The Good German (7/10)
The Good Shepherd (7/10)
The Prestige (8/10)
The Pursuit of Happyness (6/10)

-- by Tim Goernert

Source: JoBlo.com

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