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Zodiac - The Director's Cut (Two-Disc Special

A movie directed by David Fincher

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Zodiac - 2007

  • Apr 3, 2009
Pros: great pacing, good acting ensemble

Cons: none for me

The Bottom Line:
“We Shall Fear Nothing
Demand The Impossible
Dream Your Destiny
Defy The Logic Of Alphabets
I Slayed The King Of The Wolves
Nothing Is Impossible”
~Wolfchild Speech

This was kind of like sending Clark Kent, without his alter ego, off to fight evildoers. You couldn’t find anyone more mild than Robert Graysmith, cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle, to ferret out the elusive Zodiac killer. Being a cartoonist gave him several ups on the competition; he was devoted to the smallest detail, people tended to overlook him which allowed him to be privy to some information he probably shouldn’t have, and he was obsessive as hell when it came to his job. In fact, so obsessive he lost track of what was most important in his life, his family.

The Zodiac killer is your worst nightmare. He shows no rhyme or reason for his targets, he simply kills. When you thought you were the safest, he could prove you wrong. Add the fact that he constantly taunted the officials and even the public with his encrypted messages, he could easily be the guy standing next to you in line at the grocery. He could have an everyday job, a family, be as nice as can be, then suddenly the urge to kill strikes and he sets out on his mission.

That mission covered the San Fran Bay area for over 10 years. He became the burr in the side of detectives and reporters alike. He singled out reporter Paul Avery for a while until Avery drinks his way into oblivion and out of a job. Police Inspector David Toschi worked the case until he almost felt defeat, and, still, the Zodiac remained alive and well. And then there is Graysmith, a worrisome little tool that gets his mind set on an end goal and runs with the ball.

Did Graysmith solve the case? Who’s to know. What the Zodiac did, however, was change the climate and persona of urban America forever.

Zodiac was directed by David Fincher; writing credits to James Vanderbilt from the book by Robert Graysmith. It received 24 nominations but no wins to date. As you might figure, it carries an R rating for killings, language, drug use, and brief sexual images. What made it work was the competent assemble of actors and the pacing of the movie.

Jake Gyllenhaal worked the plodding Robert Graysmith into the dust. There were times, in some close shots, you could almost hear the wheels turning in his head. He was the complete nerd, a thorn in everyone’s side, and an aggressive little bugger that wasn’t going to let things lie. I think Gyllenhaal’s dark, intent, looks made the character more believable.

On the other hand, poor Mark Ruffalo, as Inspector David Toshi, had to suffer not only at the hands of the Zodiac but also Graysmith. He was almost as obsessed with the killings but not as intently as Graysmith. Then again, he was faced with multiple cases, not just this one. His partner, Inspector William Armstrong, played by Anthony Edwards, was just a background extra that I barely recognized with hair. However, he was the perfect straight man for the antics of Toshi.

Of course, the best by far was Robert Downey, Jr., as Paul Avery. He worked the case until the case, metaphorically, killed him. Even once he was removed from the working scene, his individual shots and appearances gave truth to the destruction a case like this can have on an individual. Whatever the real body count was finally attributed to the Zodiac, I think they should add Avery and even Graysmith to it.

It was a fresh look at a case long past but never forgotten or really solved. I liked the current turn on it and enjoyed acting by all involved and the pace of the script.


This is my submission to the April 2009 Write for the Good of a Charity Promotion which supports three charities: Autism Speaks entered by shantel1575, The Cancer Research Institute entered by AliventiAsylum, and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children entered by ::blush:: me.


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More Zodiac (2007) reviews
review by . November 06, 2010
Zodiac – A killer undetermined yet we feel so satisfied
4 Stars out of 4      David Fincher's Zodiac is not about a killer but what surrounds a killer. Most of the film is addressed through nuanced, subtle, and ponderous banter about characters trying to connect-the-dots but always drawing square circles. The Zodiac Killer was a tease; he got what he wanted - infamy, power, and control - and regardless of his motives, he got away with his killings. Zodiac, therefore, punishes our expectations: we sit through this almost …
review by . March 16, 2011
I will probably get excessively noogied over the internet for saying this, but I didn't think Zodiac was all that great a movie. I tried really hard to like it, but I just didn't like it as much as I was assured I would. Don't get me wrong, I still liked it a bit, I just don't think it's worth all the eighties and nineties it's been getting on RT. I knew absolutely nothing about the case of the Zodiac Killer before viewing this film, but I found the case to be quite interesting …
review by . November 16, 2008
I watched a film today, oh boy   About a quiet man who wrote a book   And though the book did rather well   No one had time for laughs   They saw the photographs   Of people shot dead in their cars   They didn't know at first the killer's name   A group of letters soon appeared   He said he'd killed them all   Nobody was really sure if he was just leading them on     I saw a film today, …
review by . July 10, 2008
The SF Chronicle reported that DNA from saliva under a postage stamp has cleared Arthur Leigh Allen, the favorite suspect in San Francisco's most celebrated serial murder mystery. Artie Allen may or may not be gratified - he died, after all, twelve years ago - but I find the news disquieting. Though there's no reason for the cops to have my DNA on file, I've long been expecting suspicion to shine my way. The profile fits. I moved to the Bay Area in 1968, in time for the first killing at the pumping …
review by . January 09, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
ZODIAC is director David Fincher's finest film to date. All of the preparatory exercises in violence and horror he served so well in such films as FIGHT CLUB and SEVEN now are even more terrifying because of the manner in which he internalizes the events of the infamous Zodiac killer of the 1960s and 1970s and allows us to see how the murders and lack of proof of the perpetrator destroyed the personal lives of those bound to reveal Zodiac's identity. The story of course is true, as documented in …
review by . August 06, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Mood and cinematography      Cons: Weak story that went on for far too long      The Bottom Line: I like Fincher and his mood-making is good here, but it is the only thing, so I cannot recommend it.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot.      David Fincher is in my relatively short list of favorite directors despite his rather small list of films to date. He is a …
review by . July 26, 2007
David Fincher knows how to go straight to the bone, whether that be by grisly effects or wearing down the psyches of his audience. In ZODIAC he traces the very long investigation of the serial killer in the 1960s and 1970s in the San Francisco area who was never found and has managed to mimic that interminably long yet fascinating exploration by taking close to 3 hours to unravel the bits and pieces of evidence that were to confound the police and the press alike. Based on the book by Robert Graysmith …
review by . July 24, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
There's nothing quite like a mystery. Lately, we have gotten a lot of films involving investigative puzzles. (`The Davinci Code,' `Inside Man,' and `National Treasure,' come to mind.) Such is the case with `Zodiac,' except this film is a true-to-life crime story about a serial killer who stalked victims in Vallejo and San Francisco, CA starting in 1969. It was unprecedented at the time because the police success rate was good until then, and the "Summer of Love" was a not-too-distant memory. Gripping …
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Closer in spirit to a police procedural than a gory serial-killer flick, David Fincher'sZodiacprovides a sleek, armrest-gripping re-invention of the crime film. It surveys the investigation of the Zodiac killings that terrorized the San Francisco Bay area in the late -60-early -70s; Zodiac not only killed people, but cultivated a Jack the Ripper aura by sending icky letters to the newspapers and daring readers to solve coded messages. But the film's focus isn't on the killer. We follow the reporters and detectives whose lives are taken over by the case, notably an addictive crime writer (a sartorially splendid Robert Downey Jr.), an awkward editorial cartoonist (Jake Gyllenhaal), and a hard-working cop (Mark Ruffalo). Fincher and his brilliant cinematographer Harris Savides are deft at capturing the period feel of the city, without laying on the seventies kitsch, and James Vanderbilt's script doles out its big moments to major and minor characters alike. Fincher's confidence is infectious; the movie glides through its myriad details with such dexterity that even the blind alleys and red herrings seem essential. The well-chosen cast includes unexpected people popping up all over: Anthony Edwards as a lunch-bucket homicide cop; Charles Fleischer as a mysterious suspect; Elias Koteas and Donal Logue as small-town policemen whose districts are hit by Zodiac; Chloe Sevigny as Gyllenhaal's sweet-natured wife; Brian Cox as the media-friendly lawyer Melvin ...
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Director: David Fincher
DVD Release Date: January 8, 2008
Runtime: 157 minutes
Studio: Paramount
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