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Zodiac Movie Review: David Fincher’s Decade-Defining Masterpiece from the 2000s Remains a Classic

Zodiac is directed by david fincher and stars jake gyllenhaal, robert downey jr. and mark ruffalo.

Zodiac review David Fincher movie

David Fincher’s Zodiac remains an undeniable classic since its 2007 release, standing as a pivotal moment in the director’s historic career. In this crime drama, Fincher navigates the web of the Zodiac killer’s decade-spanning reign of terror, creating an atmospheric and compelling story that has only grown in cultural significance and critical acclaim over the years.

Zodiac stood out not only as David Fincher’s best film at the time of its release but also as a precursor to the high-quality content and thematic depth he would explore in subsequent releases. The film showcases Fincher’s notoriously meticulous attention to detail, combining true-to-life sets with digital effects to recreate the San Francisco Bay Area with unparalleled precision. This commitment to authenticity serves as a foundation for the narrative to unfold naturally and realistically.

The ensemble cast, led by Jake Gyllenhaal , Robert Downey Jr. , and Mark Ruffalo , delivers outstanding performances that help elevate Zodiac to another level. Gyllenhaal, in particular, takes center stage as Robert Graysmith, the cartoonist consumed by an obsessive quest to unmask the Zodiac killer. The film weaves in and out of the lives of its protagonists, spanning the years from the rise of the Zodiac killer to Graysmith’s meticulous and thorough documentation of the case.

But what sets Zodiac apart from other serial killer movies is its clinical approach to various other genres. It seamlessly transitions between being a taut, thrilling thriller, an obsessive procedural, a poignant portrayal of time passing, and, even in fleeting moments, a haunting horror movie. The film’s runtime of 2 hours and 40 minutes may seem daunting on paper, but David Fincher’s slick and stylish design , coupled with the cast’s delivery of an incredible script, creates a movie that captivates and mesmerizes, making time seemingly fly by.

Fincher’s ability to merge practical and computer-generated effects is on full display, creating a visually stunning and immersive experience. The film’s design is not just a backdrop; it earns the cliché that it’s a character in itself, playing a crucial role in moving the plot along. This detailed, sparse world mirrors the complexity of the case and its enduring impact on those involved.

As the film explores the lives of its characters, each actor shines in different ways. Jake Gyllenhaal’s portrayal of Graysmith’s obsessive pursuit is remarkably captivating and on brand, while Robert Downey Jr.’s character undergoes a transformation, descending into paranoia and addiction. Mark Ruffalo, playing the tormented cop unable to break the case, provides a nuanced performance that adds depth to the film’s exploration of the toll a case like this takes on those involved.

Reviews for Movies like Zodiac (2007)

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Zodiac not only serves as a masterclass in procedural crime thrillers but also holds its ground among other classics in the genre. It seamlessly fits into the realm of films like Memories of Murder , Silence of the Lambs , and even Fincher’s own later works like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo . The film’s enduring relevance is a testament to its status as a certified classic and a landmark of 21st-century cinema.

Despite its critical acclaim, Zodiac did not receive the widespread recognition it deserved during awards season, overshadowed by other bleak films like There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men . However, its impact has only grown over the years, becoming a favorite for many and solidifying its place as my favorite movie of 2007, a year often regarded as one of the best this century.

Zodiac is a timeless masterpiece that transcends the crime drama genre. David Fincher’s direction, coupled with outstanding performances from the cast, creates an immersive experience that lingers in the minds of viewers. Its intricate narrative, incredible attention to detail, and thematic depth make it not just a film of its time but a work of art that continues to find new audiences time and time again, solidifying its place as one of the greatest movies of the 21st century.

Genre: Crime , Drama , Mystery , Thriller

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Zodiac Film Cast and Credits

Zodiac movie poster

Jake Gyllenaal as Robert Graysmith

Mark Ruffalo as David Toschi

Robert Downey Jr. as Paul Avery

Anthony Edwards as William Armstrong

Brian Cox as Melvin Belli

Charles Fleischer as Bob Vaughn

Zach Grenier as Mel Nicolai

Philip Baker Hall as Sherwood Morrill

Elias Koteas as Jack Mulanax

John Carroll Lynch as Arthur Leigh Allen

Dermot Mulroney as Martin Lee

Chloë Sevigny as Melanie

Director: David Fincher

Writer: James Vanderbilt

Cinematography: Harris Savides

Editor: Angus Wall

Composer: David Shire

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'Zodiac" is the "All the President's Men" of serial killer movies, with Woodward and Bernstein played by a cop and a cartoonist. It's not merely "based" on California's infamous Zodiac killings, but seems to exude the very stench and provocation of the case. The killer, who was never caught, generously supplied so many clues that Sherlock Holmes might have cracked the case in his sitting room. But only a newspaper cartoonist was stubborn enough, and tunneled away long enough, to piece together a convincing case against a man who was perhaps guilty.

The film is a police procedural crossed with a newspaper movie, but free of most of the cliches of either. Its most impressive accomplishment is to gather a bewildering labyrinth of facts and suspicions over a period of years, and make the journey through this maze frightening and suspenseful. I could imagine becoming hopelessly mired in the details of the Zodiac investigation, but director David Fincher (" Seven ") and his writer, James Vanderbilt , find their way with clarity through the murk. In a film with so many characters, the casting by Laray Mayfield is also crucial; like the only eyewitness in the case, we remember a face once we've seen it.

The film opens with a sudden, brutal, bloody killing, followed by others not too long after -- five killings the police feel sure Zodiac committed, although others have been attributed to him. But this film will not be a bloodbath. The killer does his work in the earlier scenes of the film, and then, when he starts sending encrypted letters to newspapers, the police and reporters try to do theirs.

The two lead inspectors on the case are David Toschi ( Mark Ruffalo ) and William Armstrong ( Anthony Edwards ). Toschi, famous at the time, tutored Steve McQueen for " Bullitt " and was the role model for Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry. Ruffalo plays him not as a hotshot but as a dogged officer who does things by the book because he believes in the book. Edwards' character, his partner, is more personally worn down by the sheer vicious nature of the killer and his taunts.

At the San Francisco Chronicle , although we meet several staffers, the key players are ace reporter Paul Avery ( Robert Downey Jr., bearded, chain-smoking, alcoholic) and editorial cartoonist Robert Graysmith ( Jake Gyllenhaal ). These characters are real, and indeed the film is based on Graysmith's books about the case.

I found the newspaper office intriguing in its accuracy. For one thing, it is usually fairly empty, and it was true on a morning paper in those days that the office began to heat up closer to deadline Among the few early arrivals would have been the cartoonist, who was expected to work up a few ideas for presentation at the daily news meeting, and the office alcoholics, perhaps up all night, or already starting their recovery drinking. Yes, reporters drank at their desks 40 years ago, and smoked and smoked and smoked.

Graysmith is new on the staff when the first cipher arrives. He's like the curious new kid in school fascinated by the secrets of the big boys. He doodles with a copy of the cipher, and we think he'll solve it, but he doesn't. He strays off his beat by eavesdropping on cops and reporters, making friends with the boozy Avery, and even talking his way into police evidence rooms. Long after the investigation has cooled, his obsession remains, eventually driving his wife ( Chloe Sevigny ) to move herself and their children in with her mom. Graysmith seems oblivious to the danger he may be drawing into his home, even after he appears on TV and starts hearing heavy breathing over the phone.

What makes "Zodiac" authentic is the way it avoids chases, shootouts, grandstanding and false climaxes, and just follows the methodical progress of police work. Just as Woodward and Bernstein knocked on many doors and made many phone calls and met many very odd people, so do the cops and Graysmith walk down strange pathways in their investigation. Because Graysmith is unarmed and civilian, we become genuinely worried about his naivete and risk-taking, especially during a trip to a basement that is, in its way, one of the best scenes I've ever seen along those lines.

Fincher gives us times, days and dates at the bottom of the screen, which serve only to underline how the case seems to stretch out to infinity. There is even time-lapse photography showing the Transamerica building going up. Everything leads up to a heart-stopping moment when two men look, simply look, at one another. It is a more satisfying conclusion than Dirty Harry shooting Zodiac dead, say, in a football stadium.

Fincher is not the first director you would associate with this material. In 1992, at 30, he directed "Alien 3," which was the least of the Alien movies, but even then had his eye ("Alien 3" is one of the best-looking bad movies I have ever seen). His credits include "Se7en" (1995), a superb film about another serial killer with a pattern to his crimes; " The Game " (1997), with Michael Douglas caught in an ego-smashing web; " Fight Club " (1999), beloved by most, not by me; the ingenious terror of Jodie Foster in " Panic Room " (2002), and now, five years between features, his most thoughtful, involving film.

He seems to be in reaction against the slice-and-dice style of modern crime movies; his composition and editing are more classical, and he doesn't use nine shots when one will do. (If this same material had been put through an Avid to chop the footage into five times as many shots, we would have been sending our own ciphers to the studio.) Fincher is an elegant stylist on top of everything else, and here he finds the right pace and style for a story about persistence in the face of evil. I am often fascinated by true crime books, partly because of the way they amass ominous details (the best I've read is Blood and Money , by Tommy Thompson ), and Fincher understands that true crime is not the same genre as crime action. That he makes every character a distinct individual is proof of that; consider the attention given to Graysmith's choice of mixed drink.

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.

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Film credits.

Zodiac movie poster

Zodiac (2007)

Rated R for graphic violence and drug abuse

157 minutes

Mark Ruffalo as David Toschi

Jake Gyllenhaal as Robert Graysmith

Robert Downey Jr. as Paul Avery

Anthony Edwards as Armstrong

Brian Cox as Melvin Belli

Charles Fleischer as Bob Vaughn

Zach Grenier as Mel Nicolai

Philip Baker Hall as Sherwood Morrill

Elias Koteas as Sgt. Jack Mulanax

John Carroll Lynch as Arthur Leigh Allen

Dermot Mulroney as Capt. Marty Lee

Chloe Sevigny as Melanie

Based on the book by

  • Robert Graysmith
  • James Vanderbilt

Directed by

  • David Fincher

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'Zodiac' Revisited: The Films of David Fincher

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The 10 best movies clichés, ranked, 'captain america's anthony mackie celebrates july 4th with new 'brave new world' set image.

[This is a re-post of an article from my retrospective series on the work of director David Fincher .  These articles contain spoilers. ]

Listening to the commentary tracks for Se7en , The Game , Fight Club , and Panic Room , you can hear in Fincher's voice a slight bit of annoyance and frustration.  It's not quite bitterness, but there's an acerbic quality from a man who's exhausted and can't help but lay out wry observations.  The Panic Room track in particular conveys the sense that no one should ever make a movie because it's a hellish experience meant only for masochists.  But his commentaries pick up afterwards, and I believe that's partly because Fincher found his true love: digital.

Digital completely changed the way Fincher made movies, and it allowed him to provide the precision to performances that he'd applied to all other aspects of his pictures.  From here on, he sounds much happier, and when talking about Zodiac , it's like a trip down memory lane as he recalls childhood memories of a serial killer who terrorized and tormented a city, and would never be caught.  Zodiac is by no means a happy movie, but it's one that feels like part of a revitalized director who found a picture that fits perfectly with his admiration for process, attention to detail, and the cynicism of how a search for "truth" can rip lives apart.

Zodiac is not a serial killer film.  Unlike Se7en the Zodiac murders aren't lurid or unnervingly artful.  They are absolutely, painfully brutal.  He is a force that disrupts both the idyllic and the mundane even though the lead up to the murders are always foreboding.  When Darlene Ferrin ( Ciara Hughes ) picks up young Mike Mageau ( Lee Norris ), it's with a long tracking shot that feels predatory.  It's from her perspective, but the initial implication is that it's the killer prowling for victims.  When the Zodiac guns down Darlene and Mike, the slow-motion photography is absolutely chilling when played with Donovan's "Hurdy Gurdy Man" (a song Fincher chose because he personally associated it with the time period).  This killing is not made to look "cool", and it's given an extra chill when the scene ends with the way the Zodiac says "Good-bye," to the 911 dispatcher.

zodiac-ferrin-mageau

The second murder at Lake Berryessa is also a disruption.  Despite the beautiful setting, the colors are washed out but also clean.  It's like looking at an old photo, and not in the way of the 70s-style Paramount logo that opens the movie.  The scene is off-center just enough so that when the Zodiac comes in, it's certainly an odd juxtaposition, but not so far off as to be comical, which is saying something when you consider it's a stocky man dressed in black wearing an executioner's hood in broad daylight.  And once again, the murder is absolutely brutal with Cecelia Shepard ( Pell James ) screaming as she's stabbed to death.

The final murder, the killing of San Francisco taxicab driver Paul Stine, is perhaps the most "showy" as Fincher takes us on a long, overhead view of the cab making its way to Washington and Cherry before Stine is shot in the neck in the same slow-motion fashion as Darlene and Mike.  Like the Zodiac, Fincher chose to change his pattern.

zodiac-cab-overhead

And those are the only murders in the movie.

As Fincher points out in his commentary track, Zodiac is "a newspaper story that becomes an obsession with justice."

I love that the story of Zodiac , the story about a killer who is never brought to justice (and justice itself may be impossible) is arguably Fincher's most personal movie to date.  Aside from all of the personal connections, both in terms of where he grew up and his father working in the news business, there's an awareness of trying to branch out and redefine himself as a filmmaker by scaling back down to the bare essentials.  "I saw this movie as flying in the face of everything I had done before," says Fincher, "and I saw it as very, very simple in terms of its travel and cause-and-effect."

If you break down Zodiac , it's deeply methodical.  We have dates to guide us.  The events are largely done without embellishment other than the murders, which are gruesome and spur the imagination to the point where Fincher—who was a stickler for detail on this movie when it came to recreating the time period right down to making sure the San Francisco Chronicle set had pencils in the desks—is willing to bend the truth a bit.

zodiac-downey-gyllenhaal

For example, Fincher admits that Darlene and Mike probably knew their attacker, and Zodiac aficionados debate whether or not the killer used a silencer.  Fincher's interpretation provides the dramatic flourishes the Zodiac would probably admire, and it's also worth noting that every murder ends with a fade-out as if every killing is a little vignette where we have to step into the Zodiac's world, a world which is embellished, theatrical, and operatic, much like the killer.

Once again (and I'm going to point this out every time), I think Fincher has a disturbing respect for people who are brilliant even if they're also terrible.  I do think Fincher's comment about John Doe in Se7en —"more enthusiasm than technique"—applies more to Zodiac, but there's an appreciation of an artist.  The letters are artistic expression, and as Fincher says in the commentary, he's fascinated by the "ongoing conversation with someone who is ‘in-process’", and the letters are the hub of that development.  One of the things I like about Fincher is that he's kind of fucked up in his interests, but he's not a personality who is constantly reminding you of how "fucked up" he is.  He plays it calm, cool, and collected, which is part of what makes his movies so powerful.  The most dangerous guy isn't the raving maniac; it's the master planner sitting quietly in the corner of the room.

zodiac-mark-ruffalo-anthony-edwards

When we return to hard procedural, everything is cold and detached.  It's slightly ironic that Fincher's first digital movie would be for a film set in the 1970s, but it works perfectly in so many ways.  It's extremely subtle right down the magnificent visual effects work.  Unlike The Curious Case of Benjamin Button , the effects in Zodiac are literally background at certain points.  When Toschi ( Mark Ruffalo ) and Armstrong ( Anthony Edwards ) go to investigate the murder at Washington and Cherry, the entire background is green screen, and it's seamless.  That may not seem like a huge deal now, but it's damn impressive that the effect perfectly holds up seven years later.

The visual effects and cinematography help provide a ghostly air to the whole proceedings.  The methodology of the investigation still has a quick pace and even a dark sense of humor, especially when Paul Avery ( Robert Downey Jr. ) is on screen, and even though it's just Downey doing Downey (aka Tony Stark), it's still amusing (he also has my favorite line in the movie: "Me thinks our friend is a tad bit fuckered in the head.").  Zodiac is by no means soulless or mechanical, but it is merciless in the sense of an indifferent universe.

zodiac-downey-gyllenhaal-1

Fincher is still soaking his movie in gorgeous contrasts and deep blacks, but there's a pervading sense of normalcy that makes the movie both melancholy and exciting.  We know Toschi, Armstrong, and Robert Graysmith ( Jake Gyllenhaal ) are all smart people, and they can drive the investigation forward.  The tragedy is that it doesn't matter .  The investigation is paradoxically what eats away at these men.  "The Rick Marshalls of this world will suck you dry," Toschi tells Graysmith.

Fincher isn't advocating that people give up trying to catch killers or that procedural movies are dumb.  The form of this movie is a true procedural as opposed to Se7en which is lurid thriller, albeit one that's incredibly well-made.  Zodiac is a procedural down to the point where Fincher is willing to remove central characters for long stretches of time.  We briefly get to know Graysmith and Avery, and then once Toschi and Armstrong enter the picture, they own it for a large chunk of the movie.

zodiac-mark-ruffalo-anthony-edwards-1

Fincher could have ended Zodiac at the screening of Dirty Harry .  It would be a nice little button on a story about guys who tried to get Zodiac , they didn't succeed, and movies provide the comfort of justice reality refuses to provide.  That's an abbreviated version of the film, but it's telling and not showing.  We know that sometimes cops don't catch the bad guys.  It's unusual that they missed one as prominent as the Zodiac, but that's sometime how it goes.  What remains unanswered is the cost of justice, and how an unsolved puzzle can undo someone as pure and good-hearted as Graysmith.

When Graysmith renters the picture, Zodiac is now an idea.  We've met Arthur Lee Allen ( John Carroll Lynch ) and lost him.  The practical case has fallen apart, and Graysmith—a lover of puzzles and a freaking boy scout—can't accept that.  There has to be some semblance of justice in the world.  It can't be at the mercy of someone who sends letters that were, as Fincher puts it in the commentary track, "Designed to be a real ‘fuck you’ to the people who were hunting him."

zodiac-mark-ruffalo-anthony-edwards-koteas

Fincher notes that the movie took more than its fair share of dramatic license with the story, which is fine because Zodiac is not a docudrama, and it's not about "catching" Zodiac, which is why the movie is enduring and captivating.  It's about the impossibility of justice and how the search for truth may not be worth the answers.  "I need to know who he is," Graysmith tells his wife ( Chloë Sevigny ) as she's leaving him.

Except catching Zodiac doesn't make the world a better place, and that's why the movie is so indifferent to his passion.  It's still beautifully shot, and it matches Graysmith's dread, but it never indulges his passion.  David Fincher isn't on Graysmith's side, nor does he particularly pity his protagonist.  Granted, Graysmith doesn't even take a breath to feel pain over losing his family before he hops right back into the investigation.  There's the sense that if he can just get one answer, then the world will be right.  Fincher doesn't even particularly care if Allen was the killer.  It's just a narrative through line.

zodiac-john-carroll-lynch

Graysmith does eventually get to look Allen in the eye—a look that took 14 years after the first murder—and that's all the "justice" you can get.  Justice isn't about righting a wrong, or punishing the wicked.  At most, justice provides solace, and for Graysmith, it was at particularly high cost.  Yes, he got a book out of it (one that's horribly written; I powered through Zodiac Unmasked and it doesn't know if it wants to follow the case chronologically or jump right to pointing the finger at Allen), but that's a minor victory compared to everything that came before.

With such a heavy reliance on character-driven procedural aspects, there's not much else to focus on.  Aside from the killings, there's hardly any embellishment, which is why there's so much emphasis on the performances.  Zodiac has a propulsive plotline, but that plotline eats away at its characters.  Fincher already did plenty of takes on his other movies, but digital allowed him to be as exacting with his actors as he was on any other part of the production.  Some actors enjoy this process and embrace it as a rehearsal period.  Others: not so much (you can see Gyllenhaal borderline whining on the set in the making-of documentary, and Downey infamously left mason jars of urine lying around in protest).  The key difference is that digital brings everything in line.  There's a crispness to the performances that's slightly sharper than in previous movies.  This may seem like a minor detail, but keep in mind that at one point during the production of Zodiac , Fincher told his costume designer to remove one line of thread in the eye-slit of the Zodiac's executioner's hood.  The technology was now as precise as the director.

The movie closes with the adult Mike Mageau ( Jimmi Simpson ) identifying Allen as his attacker while "Hurdy Gurdy Man" plays once again.  That night on July 4, 1969 never really ended.

Death would follow Fincher to his next picture, but it would be soaked in a lush romance that struggled with life, love, time, and cross-purposes.

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zodiac-poster

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Review: zodiac.

The film is backed by a solid character-based narrative foundation, as James Vanderbilt’s script never loses focus on his story’s human element.

Zodiac

With Zodiac , David Fincher returns to the scene of his first cinematic triumph: the serial killer genre. Unlike his self-consciously stylish, surprise twist-punctuated Se7en , however, the director’s latest is played for exacting realism, with a conclusion that any true-crime buff will know from the outset. Operating according to different ground rules this time around—the most pertinent being the well-known fact that, in real life, the titular Zodiac killer was never formally identified or apprehended—Fincher aims for suspense via both traditional thriller means as well as through a comprehensive analysis and recreation of the sprawling investigation into the Zodiac’s random murders during the ’60s and ’70s by San Francisco Chronicle “boy scout” cartoonist Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) and hard-nosed, soft-spoken inspector David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo). Based upon his own extensive research as well as Graysmith’s two nonfiction books about the case, the Fight Club auteur’s first film in five years is a police procedural creatively indebted to works like All the President’s Men , much of Sidney Lumet’s canon, and HBO’s The Wire , with which it shares a detail-driven focus on the process of formal police and journalistic inquiry. Yet as this sprawling opus unfolds, what emerges isn’t simply a routine detective story but something far more masterful, and haunting: a two-and-a-half hour portrait of obsession run amok, and of the multifaceted influence of the media—and the cinema—on society.

Zodiac ’s exhaustive attention to minute facts and theories forms a parallel not only with Graysmith and Toschi’s fanatical need to nab the killer—who terrorized the Bay Area with murder and taunting letters to police and newspapers (replete with mysterious ciphers) that, per his demands, were published as front page news—but also the director’s own perfectionist filmmaking methods (which reportedly included upward of 70 takes for a given scene). This bond shared by Fincher’s fictionalized material and his own techniques is a fitting one, given that Zodiac ’s concerns extend past simply depicting the efforts to nab the titular fiend, and toward an examination of the two-way mirror between film and reality. In one of his first missives to the San Francisco Chronicle , the man-hunting Zodiac aptly references The Most Dangerous Game , an instance of life being influenced by (and imitating) art that finds its flipsides later on, first when someone calls Toschi “Bullitt”—a sly allusion to the fact that the detective was the basis for Steve McQueen’s iconic S.F. cop—and then when Dirty Harry premieres, Zodiac-ish villain in tow. Fincher decorates background walls with classic movie posters and includes a self-indicting, pre-opening credit visual clue (elucidated during the third act) that speaks to cinema’s potent cultural impact, a point succinctly emphasized by Zodiac in a late letter: “Waiting for a good movie about me, I wonder who will play me.”

The influence movies exert on Zodiac’s rampage, and the resultant desire to have his deeds refracted through the camera’s eye, is a dynamic that manifests itself similarly in the killer’s relationship with the news media. Through his numerous handwritten letters, the Zodiac cannily (and chillingly) uses the press for his own devious means, an act of manipulation Fincher shows repeated by the papers and television, who latch onto the story not simply for objective reportage purposes but for their own self-interested reasons. “He’s [Zodiac] in it for the press,” deduces boozy, ascot-wearing San Francisco Chronicle crime reporter Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr., exhibiting his usual quirky, flamboyant mannerisms). It’s a selfish motive that Toschi accuses Avery of sharing—saying the man’s articles are driven by the desire to “up circulation”—and which underwrites everything from the city’s broadsheet competition over the news item to Graysmith’s suggestion that Avery sell for profit the buttons (“I Am Not Avery”) which appear after the reporter receives a personal threat from the Zodiac. By the time attorney Melvin Belli (Brian Cox) appears on TV at the Zodiac’s request, it’s clear that everyone involved has helped greedily transform the case into sensationalistic entertainment, so that when Belli argues that “Killing is his compulsion” and Toschi shoots back “Could be, or maybe he just likes the attention,” Zodiac has already proven both lines of thought to be true, and inextricably linked.

Questioned about the veracity of Avery’s apparent discovery of the Zodiac’s first victim, Toschi’s partner William Armstrong (Anthony Edwards) replies, “It’s very real. You know how I know? I saw it on TV.” A sense of the media being the primary vehicle for truth permeates the proceedings. Fincher, however, shrewdly challenges such impressions at regular intervals, such as when a Vallejo, CA sergeant (Elias Koteas) bends rules and gives amateur sleuth Graysmith access to confidential files because Zodiac is “yesterday’s news, so what’s the harm?”—a statement that reveals press attention to be the crucial force behind (and, as implied by Graysmith’s eventual success, an obstacle to) investigative work. In this light, Fincher’s sterling montage featuring newspaper headlines, Zodiac scribblings, and camera lenses overlaid on a shot of detectives in police HQ cleverly captures the incestuous bond between Zodiac and those who are covering/hunting him, a connection that increasingly seems to foreshadow elements of our own contemporary, exploitative information age. The Zodiac’s letter-writing antics may have been partially inspired by Jack the Ripper (a kindred spirit, certainly), but Fincher’s film astutely and persuasively intimates that his utilization of—and history of having been influenced by—the media and cinema also make him a distinctly modern serial killer.

Shot on state-of-the-art HD by Harris Savides via a process that required absolutely no celluloid or tape, Zodiac is itself something of a technological pioneer. Fincher utilizes his all-digital medium for drab authenticity, his image’s flat quality giving his period detail an un-flashy fidelity. Such a toned-down aesthetic (full of fades to black) is matched by David Shire’s taut score and the director’s conspicuously reserved camerawork, which favors tense close-ups for its prototypical thriller-genre sequences and little of the show-offery (rollercoaster pans and swoops, grandiose effects) that have increasingly defined his films. This subdued approach is in keeping with the film’s economical and absorbing attention to case particulars, though Fincher’s more exhibitionist tendencies do intermittently rear their head, with aerial compositions of a taxicab and the Golden Gate Bridge (and a time-lapse of a building’s construction) indicating that the director couldn’t completely quell the desire to visually let loose. While a tad distracting, these excessive cinematographic moments nonetheless smoothly mesh with Fincher’s aspirations for grand comprehensiveness—an objective that only seriously falters during Zodiac ’s cursory, unresolved references to the problematic role that racial and homosexual stereotypes played in the citywide manhunt.

Although striving to achieve the epic, Fincher’s story is backed by a solid character-based narrative foundation, as James Vanderbilt’s script never loses focus on his story’s human element. At heart a tale of consuming mania, the film diligently concentrates on the deleterious ramifications of Graysmith and Toschi’s work, capturing (thanks to Gyllenhaal and Ruffalo’s committed, no-nonsense performances) the way in which their uncontrollable fixations on uncovering the killer’s identity were symptomatic of a time and place engulfed by the case. Graysmith and Toschi’s partners Avery and Armstrong offer respective models for escaping the mystery: the former quitting the homicide beat for his wife and kids, the latter taking a swan dive into sloshed dereliction. Yet the duo persevere at the expense of sanity and familial stability, dramatic crises that are slightly weakened by cardboard-cutout spouses for both men, but which are still acutely affecting during a scene in which Graysmith’s bookish wife Melanie (Chloë Sevigny) discovers her estranged husband encased, like a Bob Woodward version of Richard Dreyfusss’s Close Encounters daddy, in a living room stacked with research documents. A later sight of Graysmith flipping through a family album-style scrapbook of Zodiac clippings merely underlines the cost of his cause: the killer has literally become his kin, his life.

Consequently, Zodiac forms something of a companion piece to Se7en and its cynical, world-weary view of personal quests for “justice.” As with Brad Pitt’s detective Mills, Gyllenhaal’s Graysmith brings himself and his clan to the brink of ruin in order to stop a serial killer, and learns—albeit to a lesser extent than the tragic Mills—that happy endings are the stuff of fairy-tale fiction. (Spoiler alert.) Convinced that former military man and convicted pedophile Arthur Leigh Allen (John Carroll Lynch) is the Zodiac, Graysmith finds himself incapable of doing anything substantial about it, his reward for going crazy and alienating loved ones and colleagues ultimately nothing more than a pitiful, catharsis-free staredown with the suspect that starkly emphasizes his powerlessness. An honest man who pays a weighty price for trying to be something he’s not (namely, a detective), Graysmith—despite a somewhat upbeat “where are they now” textual coda—thus eventually comes to resemble a classic noir hero. And the fact that he continues, to this day, to write about the infamous, never-captured S.F. boogeyman adds a final, poignant punctuation to Zodiac , with Graysmith’s inescapable enthrallment suggesting that for many, true obsessions never really die.

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Nick Schager is the entertainment critic for The Daily Beast . His work has also appeared in Variety , Esquire , The Village Voice , and other publications.

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Movie Review | 'Zodiac'

Hunting a Killer as the Age of Aquarius Dies

zodiac movie review reddit

By Manohla Dargis

  • March 2, 2007

David Fincher’s magnificently obsessive new film, “Zodiac,” tracks the story of the serial killer who left dead bodies up and down California in the 1960s and possibly the ’70s, and that of the men who tried to stop him. Set when the Age of Aquarius disappeared into the black hole of the Manson family murders, the film is at once sprawling and tightly constructed, opaque and meticulously detailed. It’s part police procedural, part monster movie, a funereal entertainment that is an unexpected repudiation of Mr. Fincher’s most famous movie, the serial-killer fiction “Seven,” as well as a testament to this cinematic savant’s gifts.

Informed by history and steeped in pulp fiction, “Zodiac” stars a trio of beauties — Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo — all at the top of their performance game and captured in out-of-sight high-definition digital by the cinematographer Harris Savides. Mr. Gyllenhaal is the sneaky star of the show as the real-life cartoonist turned writer Robert Graysmith, though he doesn’t emerge from the wings until fairly late, after the bodies and the investigations have cooled. A silky, seductive Mr. Downey plays Paul Avery, a showboating newspaper reporter who chased the killer in print, while Mr. Ruffalo struts his estimable stuff as Dave Toschi, the San Francisco police detective who taught Steve McQueen how to wear a gun in “Bullitt” and pursued Zodiac close to the ground.

The relative unknown James Vanderbilt wrote the jigsaw-puzzle screenplay, working from Mr. Graysmith’s exhaustive, exhausting true-crime accounts of the murders and their investigations, “Zodiac” and “Zodiac Unmasked.” Mr. Graysmith, coyly played by Mr. Gyllenhaal as something of an overgrown Hardy Boy, his great big eyes matched by his great big ambition, was a political cartoonist doodling Nixon noses at The San Francisco Chronicle when Zodiac started sending letters and ciphers to the paper, divulging intimate knowledge of the crimes. The first messages arrived in 1969, the year Zodiac shot one young couple and knifed another in separate Northern California counties before moving on to San Francisco, where he put a bullet in the head of a cabbie.

The first cipher stumped an alphabet soup of law enforcement agencies, including the C.I.A. and F.B.I., but was cracked by a California schoolteacher and his wife. The decoded cipher opened with an ominous and crudely effective flourish: “I like killing people because it is so much fun it is more fun than killing wild game in the forrest because man is the most dangeroue anamal.” The letters, the misspellings and the lax punctuation kept coming, and perhaps so did the murders, though only five were substantively linked to him. A publicity hound, Zodiac claimed responsibility for murders he might not have committed, a habit that added to a boogeyman mystery and myth that chroniclers of his crimes, including Mr. Graysmith, have exploited.

Mr. Fincher made his name with “Seven,” a thriller in which the grotesquely mutilated bodies of murder victims are nothing more than lovingly designed props. Although more than capable of adding to the exploitation annals, he is up to something profoundly different in this film, which opens with the shooting of two people parked on a lovers’ lane at night, an attack that is soon followed by a squirmingly visceral knife assault on a couple during a daytime idyll. By front-loading the violence, Mr. Fincher instantly makes it clear just what kind of murderer this was — one who liked to get his hands wet — and ensures that the murders don’t become the story’s payoff, our reward for all the time stamps, geographic shifts, narrative complication and frustrated action.

The story structure is as intricate as the storytelling is seamless, with multiple time-and-place interludes neatly slotted into two distinct sections. The first largely concerns the murders and the investigations; the second, far shorter one involves Graysmith’s transformation of the murders and the investigations into a narrative. With its nicotine browns, the first section, which opens in 1969 and continues through the mid-’70s, looks as if it had been art-directed by a roomful of chain smokers. Dark and moody, like all of Mr. Fincher’s work, this part has been drained of almost all bright colors, save for splashes of yellow, the color of safety and caution, and an alarming-looking blue elixir called an Aqua Velva that is Graysmith’s bar drink of choice.

The second, more vibrantly hued section begins with Graysmith sitting in the Chronicle newsroom, its yellow pillars now painted blue. He looks as bright and bushy-tailed as the day he read Zodiac’s first letter, though now he comes equipped with three kids and a wife (an unfortunately familiar scold whom Chloë Sevigny imbues with some welcome wit). But there are demons still loose, inside and out, which is why Graysmith takes on Zodiac alone, warming up the stone-cold case. Domestic tranquillity, it seems, can’t hold a candle to work, to the fanatical pursuit of meaning and self-discovery, to finding out what makes you and the world tick — which is why, while “Zodiac” contains multitudes (genres, jokes, nods at 1970s New Hollywood), it feels like Mr. Fincher’s most personal film to date.

Maybe that’s why it doesn’t have the usual movie-made shrink- rapping and beard-stroking, as in Mommy was a castrating shrew and Daddy used a two-by-four as a paddle. Throughout the film Mr. Fincher and company keep focus on Zodiac’s crimes, on the nuts and bolts of his deeds, rather than on the nurture and nature behind them. There is no normalizing psychology here, and no deep-dish symbolism either, maybe because the title crazy is so peculiarly fond of symbols, which he sprinkles in his missives and, for one murder, wears superhero style on a black-hooded costume that makes him look like a portly ninja in a Z-movie quickie. It’s no wonder the victims don’t see the threat behind the masquerade until it’s too late.

Psychology isn’t Mr. Fincher’s bag; he isn’t interested in what lies and writhes beneath, but what is right there: the visible evidence. And what beautiful evidence it is. His polished technique can leave you slack-jawed, as can his scrupulous attention to detail: the peeling walls of a derelict building in “Fight Club,” the rows of ant-size letters marching across the pages of a composition notebook in “Seven,” the bruises splashed across a woman’s arm in “Zodiac.” There is mystery in this minutiae, not just virtuosity, and maybe, to judge from reports of his painstaking process, a touch of madness. Like his detectives and journalists, Mr. Fincher seems possessed by the need to recreate reality — to revisit the scene of the crime — piece by piece.

There’s a moment early in the film when Mr. Downey stands in the Chronicle newsroom, back arched and rear gently hoisted, affecting a posture that calls to mind Gene Kelly done up as a Toulouse-Lautrec jockey in “An American in Paris.” Avery has already started his long slip-slide into boozy oblivion, abetted by toots of coke, but as he strides around the newsroom, motored by talent and self-regard, he is the guy everybody else wants to be or wants to have. Like Mr. Ruffalo’s detective, who leaves everything bobbing in his rapid wake, Mr. Downey fills the screen with life that, by its very nature, is a rebuke to the death drive embodied by the Zodiac killer. Rarely has a film with so much blood on its hands seemed so insistently alive.

“Zodiac” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). It contains extremely graphic gun and knife violence, as well as alcohol abuse and cocaine use.

Opens today nationwide.

Directed by David Fincher; written by James Vanderbilt, based on the books “Zodiac” and “Zodiac Unmasked” by Robert Graysmith; director of photography, Harris Savides; edited by Angus Wall; music by David Shire; production designer, Donald Graham Burt; produced by Mr. Vanderbilt, Mike Medavoy, Arnold W. Messer, Bradley J. Fischer and Cean Chaffin; released by Paramount Pictures. Running time: 158 minutes.

WITH: Jake Gyllenhaal (Robert Graysmith), Mark Ruffalo (Inspector Dave Toschi), Robert Downey Jr. (Paul Avery), Anthony Edwards (Inspector Bill Armstrong), Brian Cox (Melvin Belli), Elias Koteas (Sgt. Jack Mulanax) and Chloë Sevigny (Melanie).

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Zodiac Reviews

zodiac movie review reddit

I love everything about this, the look and feel -- the LIGHTING

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4 | Jun 19, 2024

zodiac movie review reddit

James Vanderbilt's screenplay convinced me to research everything about the real events as soon as the movie finished which is undeniably an impactful effect of watching such a well-written, captivating narrative with well-developed, authentic characters.

Full Review | Original Score: A- | Jul 24, 2023

zodiac movie review reddit

have come to believe it to be Fincher’s all-time best; indeed it seems likely that it is the best film about serial killings ever made.

Full Review | Original Score: 10/10 | May 11, 2023

zodiac movie review reddit

Zodiac, ironically, rewards revisiting over and over, while commenting on the spiritual degradation of doing so.

Full Review | Oct 2, 2022

zodiac movie review reddit

If you feel like watching a truly great film, then dim the lights, turn off the cellphone and tablet and kick back for Zodiac.

Full Review | Sep 22, 2022

zodiac movie review reddit

Like a contagion that festers as easily as it spreads, David Fincher's methodical Zodiac is catching.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/4 | Feb 14, 2022

zodiac movie review reddit

A satisfying hybrid of a journalism yarn, a police procedural, and a serial killer flick.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4 | Nov 16, 2021

zodiac movie review reddit

More than any American movie of the past decade, Zodiac accepts and embraces irresolvability, which may be why it's so hypnotically rewatchable.

Full Review | Oct 4, 2021

zodiac movie review reddit

Here and there bits bob to the surface, and we and the characters think we may have figured something out, only to have the sheer immensity of detail leave the entire thing ultimately unknowable

Full Review | Jul 2, 2021

A chiller, more fatalistic...

Full Review | Jun 5, 2021

Carve out three hours for this thinking-person's thriller.

Full Review | Feb 25, 2021

David Fincher isn't rubbing the horrors we inflict on each other in the audience's face. Here, it's something more subtle, the creeping fear of I know I'm right...but what do I do now?

Full Review | Dec 22, 2020

zodiac movie review reddit

From the visual and technical standpoint - yes, it's fantastic. But art has always been about more than just technique, more than the sum of its parts, and that "more" is where Zodiac falls short.

Full Review | Original Score: 7/10 | Dec 17, 2020

zodiac movie review reddit

[Zodiac] has an interesting quality of subverting expectations, quietly stringing the viewer along until suddenly a decade's gone by and you're still trying to fit all the pieces together alongside the characters.

Full Review | Dec 8, 2020

zodiac movie review reddit

A procedural masterwork, unencumbered by action, exploitation, or Hollywood expectations.

Full Review | Original Score: 8/10 | Nov 28, 2020

zodiac movie review reddit

David Fincher takes his time with this frightening crime procedural, that's full of dread and excellent performances. [Full review in Spanish]

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | Oct 5, 2020

Jake Gyllenhaal powerfully portrays Robert Graysmith, a mild-mannered political cartoonist whose life unravels as his paranoid quest to track down clues....

Full Review | May 22, 2020

Fincher presents plausible theories that are not rammed down our throats.

Full Review | May 21, 2020

zodiac movie review reddit

Zodiac is a film that really takes its time, but does a masterful job of showing how these killings didn't just destroy the lives of the victims and their families, but how the case became a burden to almost everyone involved.

Full Review | Original Score: A- | Nov 21, 2019

zodiac movie review reddit

Zodiac is not just a masterclass in film-making and storytelling, it's proof that a horror movie does not have to be showy to be scary.

Full Review | Sep 25, 2019

zodiac movie review reddit

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Notorious case inspires dark, sinuous thriller.

Zodiac Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Serial killer is cruel and plainly deranged; cops

Extremely bloody crime scenes; violence includes s

Suggestion of sexual desire as first victims &quot

Repeated profanity, especially "f--k," a

Some references by name (Folgers, the movie Bullit

Drinking to drunkenness in bars (Paul and Robert f

Parents need to know that this three-hour movie about the investigation into a string of real-life serial murders during the early 1970s is too violent and disturbing for most teens (and probably even some adults). While some violence takes place off screen, what does appear is brutal and bloody: The Zodiac shoots a…

Positive Messages

Serial killer is cruel and plainly deranged; cops and reporters argue amongst themselves and become obsessed with the case to the point of ruining their home lives. Paul gives his editor the finger.

Violence & Scariness

Extremely bloody crime scenes; violence includes shooting, stabbing (especially brutal), fighting; much discussion of means of murder, ammunition, and gun types; letters from killer describe plans to kill children on school buses (a boy hears this on TV and looks worried); mention of gas chamber; woman in prison appears with dark bruises on her arm; scary scene in basement when Robert thinks he's met the killer by accident (jump shot, dark shadows, tense music); discussion of a suspect's deviant history ("touching kids").

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.

Sex, Romance & Nudity

Suggestion of sexual desire as first victims "park" (they're shot before they even kiss); Paul reports that the killer is a "latent homosexual."

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.

Repeated profanity, especially "f--k," as well as "s--t," "hell," "goddamn it," and other colorful language ("Sweet mother of Christ," "Jesus on crutches," "Tell him to screw," "crap," "getting your rocks off with a girl") and name-calling ("shorty" and "retard").

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.

Products & Purchases

Some references by name (Folgers, the movie Bullitt ), plus background imagery (Coca-Cola and Campbell's soup in vending machines, Slinky on TV); Dirty Harry on movie screen.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking to drunkenness in bars (Paul and Robert favor blue drinks called "Aqua Velvas"); more drinking at Belli's Christmas party (he offers a "toddy"); frequent cigarette smoking; Paul looks high/wasted at work -- he snorts cocaine and keeps a full bar and other drugs in his home.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this three-hour movie about the investigation into a string of real-life serial murders during the early 1970s is too violent and disturbing for most teens (and probably even some adults). While some violence takes place off screen, what does appear is brutal and bloody: The Zodiac shoots a couple in their car, stabs another couple in the back (the victims' pained, horrified faces are shown both times), and shoots a cabbie. Police officers and reporters discuss the deaths in some detail. Characters drink heavily and smoke frequently (one also uses hard drugs). References are made to the killer's "latent homosexuality" and a suspect's pedophilia. Language includes repeated uses of "f--k." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails .

Where to Watch

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Community Reviews

  • Parents say (20)
  • Kids say (30)

Based on 20 parent reviews

What's the Story?

An intelligent, sinuous mystery, ZODIAC is less interested in sensational violence than in the ways that the media affects such violence. Based on the notorious, still-unsolved early-1970s Zodiac murders in the San Francisco area, the movie focuses first on efforts to figure out the murderer's motives and then on the ways that the Zodiac "imagined" himself into public consciousness by writing letters to the San Francisco Chronicle and leaving clues to taunt the police. The film begins with a murder -- the first one for which the killer took public credit. After the shooting, Zodiac calls the police and sends a letter to the Chronicle , demonstrating -- in his mind, anyway -- that he's smarter than all of them. As he uses the media to "make himself up," the movie considers the effects of the case on those who pursue him, including Inspector David Toschi ( Mark Ruffalo ) and his partner, Inspector William Armstrong (Anthony Edwards); as well as earnest cartoonist Robert Graysmith ( Jake Gyllenhaal ) and brilliantly self-destructive crime reporter Paul Avery ( Robert Downey Jr. ). They run into problems at every turn, from law enforcement officials in different jurisdictions who don't want to work together to handwriting experts, fingerprinters, and even celebrity lawyer Melvin Belli ( Brian Cox ). With egos getting in the way, only rudimentary technologies to work with, and legal impediments, no one cracks the case, and everyone loses themselves to it.

Is It Any Good?

David Fincher 's excellent movie includes several violent murder scenes (a stabbing is especially grisly). But it's more interested in the consequences of the brutality: crime scenes, investigative procedures, fear in the community. In a mess of intersecting obsessions and deceptions, Zodiac finds remarkable coherence, tracing the similar needs, means, and fictions that structure truth.

Talk to Your Kids About ...

Families can talk about the media's relationship with serial killers. How do the killers use the media to gain attention? How do the media use the killers to gain ratings? How do viewers and readers respond to such coverage? Think about how movies portray killers and their pursuers: Unlike The Silence of the Lambs , this movie focuses on the investigation, with very little information about the killer. How does that affect the film's narrative and displays of violence? Is violence more effective when it's shown, or when it's implied? Why?

Movie Details

  • In theaters : March 1, 2007
  • On DVD or streaming : July 24, 2007
  • Cast : Chloe Sevigny , Jake Gyllenhaal , Mark Ruffalo
  • Director : David Fincher
  • Inclusion Information : Female actors
  • Studio : Warner Bros.
  • Genre : Thriller
  • Run time : 165 minutes
  • MPAA rating : R
  • MPAA explanation : some strong killings, language, drug material and brief sexual images.
  • Last updated : April 14, 2024

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Zodiac (United States, 2007)

Zodiac is a police procedural - a sort of souped-up, ultra-long episode of Law & Order . Based on the 1986 "true crime" book by Robert Graysmith, the movie looks back on one of the nation's most sinister unsolved crimes: the Northern California serial killings by the so-called "Zodiac killer." Although no arrest was ever made and the case now resides on the SFPD's inactive list, many journalists, cops, and investigators had their own "favorite" candidates for the identity of Zodiac. The movie follows the hunt by cartoonist-turned-writer Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) as he seeks to unmask the villain.

To its credit, Zodiac is faithful to its source material. However, from a stylish director like David Fincher, the straightforward, no-frills approach is a little bit of a letdown. The digital photography is sharp, but there's nothing remarkable about it. There's no sense of the cinematic flair that has marked Fincher's previous efforts (even Alien 3 , for all of its faults, was visually dynamic). One can count on one hand the number of flourishes apparent during the nearly three-hour running time.

During its first hour, Zodiac unfolds along three parallel trajectories. The killer systematically eliminates victims (the crimes are re-enacted based on the survivor testimony contained in Graysmith's book). The police, led by detectives Dave Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) and Bill Armstrong (Anthony Edwards) investigate and collect clues. And newspaper people like Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.) and Graysmith fill the papers with speculation and fact. Then, a little more than a third of the way through the book, the Zodiac killer's spree stops and the movie chronicles Graysmith's obsessive hunt to uncover his identity. He conducts interviews, pours over old files, and eventually comes up with the perfect suspect: Arthur Leigh Allen (John Carroll Lynch), who is damned by circumstantial evidence.

Zodiac does not promise an impartial perspective of the search for the killer. Since it's based on Graysmith's book, it represents the author's viewpoint and the facts are slanted in favor of his preferred suspect. Whether Allen was the Zodiac killer or not is something we'll never know (he died more than a decade ago), but the film stacks the deck in his favor to avoid being completely open ended. Certainly, few who see this film will leave the theater frustrated by the real-world fact that the case remains unsolved.

That Zodiac draws conclusions isn't its problem (to the degree that it has a problem) - the structure is. While the killer is active and the police investigation is in full throttle, there's tension and momentum. It's a cat-and-mouse game. But when the focus shifts to Graysmith, the film shifts into neutral. While there's a certain amount of fascination associated with following an investigator tracking down disintegrating leads and digging through mounds of old records, it's not cinematic, and this at times makes the second half of Zodiac sluggish. Fincher's attempts to create tension (anonymous phone calls with heavy breathing, a creepy film buff who might be dangerous) inject suspense, but the intensity level is low. As thrillers go, most of Zodiac is more of a slow burn than an explosion - not necessarily a bad thing, but it requires patience. The running length is problematic. Fincher is so determined to meticulously recreate Graysmith's investigation that he risks losing his audience. There are numerous dramatically effective sequences during the second half, but the uneven pace results in stagnant periods.

So where is Fincher in all of this? Zodiac has a generic look and feel that is at variance with what we have come to expect from the director. Even Fincher's early music videos had more style than this. That's not to say that the film's direction is inept. Technically, it's fine and there are some nice helicopter shots (and a nifty time lapse sequence of a building being constructed), but there's nothing special about it. It's as if Fincher is saying, "Look! I can do regular stuff too!" There was more menace and atmosphere in Spike Lee's Summer of Sam , another film about a real-life serial killer.

The performances, like Fincher's direction, are competent. Jake Gyllenhaal is understated as usual, but that's appropriate for his low-key character. As Graysmith's obsession grows, Gyllenhaal comes alive. Mark Ruffalo is very good at being petulant but has trouble with sincerity. Robert Downey Jr. once again plays the flamboyant rogue with alcohol/substance abuse problems. Art imitating life, I suppose, but he can do this kind of role in his sleep. Arguably, the best performance belongs to John Carroll Lynch who captures Allen's creepiness without doing anything overt. Brian Cox steals a few scenes as Melvin Belli (he even gets to make a Star Trek reference).

Although the entirety of the movie spans 22 years, from 1969 until 1991, the majority of the scenes transpire in 1969 and the early '70s, and the film is at its most effective during those years. Zodiac becomes fragmented when it starts lurching ahead to highlight the "big moments" in Graysmith's investigation. It's difficult to be too harsh on Zodiac because the subject is interesting (such is often the case with serial killers) and it is fascinating to observe as the investigatory pieces fall into place. Ultimately, however, the length and uneven pacing are stumbling blocks with which an audience must contend. Patient viewers will be rewarded; others may wish for something with less subtlety and more verve.

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  • DVD & Streaming
  • Drama , Mystery/Suspense

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In Theaters

  • Jake Gyllenhaal as Robert Graysmith; Mark Ruffalo as Dave Toschi; Robert Downey Jr. as Paul Avery; Anthony Edwards as Bill Armstrong; Brian Cox as Melvin Belli; Elias Koteas as Jack Mulanax; Chloë Sevigny as Melanie; Richmond Arquette, Bob Stephenson and John Lacy as The Zodiac Killer Suspects

Home Release Date

  • David Fincher

Distributor

  • Paramount Pictures

Movie Review

Counting two books and a battery of interviews among its source materials, Zodiac digs under the skin of the story of a real-life serial killer who terrified the public and perplexed law enforcement in the San Francisco Bay Area beginning in 1969. On Aug. 1 of that year, three local newspapers received letters claiming responsibility for several fatal shootings and another attempted murder. The letters contained details that would have been known only to the killer, along with a cipher—of which each paper was given only part—that the writer claimed would reveal his identity. More killings were promised if it was not published.

The “Zodiac,” as the killer would dub himself, seemed, in spirit, like London’s Jack the Ripper for his brazen, police-taunting mannerisms. A couple from Salinas, Calif., would crack the basic cipher, but the Zodiac’s identity remained elusive as the body count continued to rise: 13 of them, by the Zodiac’s claim. And letters continued to pile up, directing threats at even school children and providing fuel for the fire of the killer’s self-celebration.

Director David Fincher (Panic Room, Fight Club, Se7en) says that the crimes of the Zodiac, which still remain unsolved, have enthralled him for years, even as a young boy growing up in the Bay Area. That personal tie, perhaps, prompted him to create what he calls “the most informationally packed [movie] I’ve ever seen.”

This is not a Hannibal Lecter-style horror/thriller flick, then, that seeks to put you behind the eyes of a psycho killer and make you squirm as he does his dirty deeds—though it is brutally violent at times. What Fincher attempts here is not really an examination of the Zodiac, but rather four people absorbed in his case. Inspectors Dave Toschi and Bill Armstrong sift through endless suspects and dead-end leads in an investigation that reduces their personal lives to a faint memory. San Francisco Chronicle crime reporter Paul Avery fares no better for his high-risk, gun-wielding brand of “story research.” And at that same paper, editorial cartoonist Robert Graysmith channels his Eagle Scout-derived code-cracker enthusiasm into a full-fledged campaign for justice, risking his life and his relationship with his family along the way.

Positive Elements

Skilled detectives Toschi and Armstrong are dedicated to their pursuit of the Zodiac Killer. And the film’s lack of 24 – and CSI -style sensationalism elevates and illuminates their commitment to justice, due process and bringin’ down the bad guy. Twice Toschi throws out stray comments that denigrate the way movies ( Dirty Harry is referenced) don’t get it right in this regard. When Armstrong eventually quits the case (after years have gone by and the trail is ice cold), his decision is made in the interest of spending more time with his family.

Before totally giving himself over to his personal investigation, Graysmith shows signs of being a loving and involved parent. He accompanies a child to the bus stop and engages with his kids at meal time. At first he also attempts to shield his children from reports of the Zodiac. While driving his son, Graysmith changes the radio dial to tune out details about the killer. And when he and his son begin to watch a TV call-in program supposedly featuring the Zodiac, Graysmith turns it off when the talk becomes too grisly. At work, colleagues notice Graysmith’s generally upstanding character. It’s explained that he doesn’t smoke, drink or cuss.

Spiritual Elements

On the radio, callers discuss whether the Zodiac is a Satanist. One estimates that he certainly couldn’t have a Christian background. The killer’s nickname and use of ancient symbols suggest his fascination with astrology and/or the occult.

Sexual Content

One suspect is said to have sodomized children, and, in his home, police uncover several hardcore porn magazines, the covers of which are shown briefly. There’s a reference to a naked fondue party, and a short scene features a cross-dresser. It’s said that in his articles Avery dubs the killer a “latent homosexual.” The Zodiac makes a crude sexual reference in one of his letters. When a young couple go parking on a date, the man asks the girl about her husband. The f-word is hurled as a sexual insult. Toschi is seen in his underwear.

Violent Content

Actress Chloë Sevigny sheds some light on the kind of violence found in Zodiac by sharing with teenhollywood.com how she felt about reading one of Robert Graysmith’s books. “Before I started the picture,” she said, “I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll read it and try to get into where my husband in the movie’s mind was, what he was obsessed with and what he was dealing with, day in and day out,’ and I couldn’t. I got almost through half of it and I had to put it down. I was like, ‘I just don’t want to read about this anymore.'” Indeed, the Zodiac killings depicted here, while taking up a very small portion of screen time, are unspeakably merciless.

When the Zodiac guns down a young couple parked at a lookout, the girl’s face and the car’s windows are shown splattered with blood. The Zodiac hogties another couple, threatens them with a handgun and feigns walking away. He returns to stab them repeatedly with a knife. The woman struggles and screams while the blade is shown piercing her back, stomach and chest.

A cab driver is shot point-blank as he sits in his car. Later we see cops examining the gunshot wound as his body hangs from an open car door. A frightening near miss involves a young mother and her infant. After sabotaging the woman’s car, the Zodiac Killer offers her a ride to the nearest service station. He announces coldly that he will throw the woman’s baby out the window before killing her. Passersby find her standing in the road, panicky, bloody and disheveled, having barely escaped.

Additionally, detectives and journalists spend quite a bit of time discussing the murders. And the Zodiac’s letters supply disturbing images, taunts and warnings. These include blood-stained shirt swatches from the murdered cabbie, descriptions of bombs and a threat to “pick off kiddies” getting off a school bus.

Crude or Profane Language

The f-word is used about 15 times, the s-word half that many times. Jesus’ name is abused nearly a dozen times; God’s is combined with “d–n” once.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Avery is a hard drinker, smoker and drug abuser. And his behavior is shown to be ruining his health, career and personal life. At one point, he and Graysmith (who is said elsewhere to be a non-drinker) down hard liquor late into the night in a smoky bar. Several other characters smoke, including Toschi and a mother of an infant.

Other Negative Elements

To varying degrees, the journalists and police officers pursuing the Zodiac fail to guard themselves against becoming crippled by the weight of the unsolved murders. Graysmith, despite having the most altruistic motives of anyone involved, allows his investigation of the killings to become a full-blown obsession. He quits (loses) his job, pushes his wife and kids away, risks their safety, etc. And as his “interest” grows, his discernment wanes. Once protective of his kids’ emotional wellbeing, he ends up enlisting them as assistants as he desperately accumulates information about the Zodiac.

Much has been made of the exhaustive story research that went into creating Zodiac . In developing the project, David Fincher and others pored over thousands of pages of documents, interviewed surviving victims and retraced the killer’s steps alongside officers who worked the case. Says the director, “We backed everything up with documentation, our own interviews and evidence.”

Co-producer Bradley J. Fischer praises Fincher for also getting “to the psychology of what motivated the people who inhabited that world.” Fischer goes on to say, “It is a most human thing to want to know what can’t be known. It is a compulsion that exists in all of us.”

Zodiac clearly excels at comforting that compulsion. It was also crafted in an effort to document a historical era, and it can be easily said that this is a film that carries the potential of deepening our understanding of who we were and are as a society.

Time ‘s Richard Corliss, however, is compelling when he suggests the filmmakers had less admirable motives. “There’s no nice way to say it: movies love murderers,” he writes. “Producers may claim the killer’s story is a cautionary tale, but they revel—along with the villain and the audience—in the sick grandeur of a hit man, a supervillain, a serial killer. The psycho creeps toward his victim; we can’t watch, and we can’t turn away.”

When the Zodiac first demanded that his ciphers be printed, newspaper editors gave in. But as time passed, wiser heads prevailed and they decided to stop obliging him. The Zodiac also wanted a movie made about him, writing in one of his last known missives, “I am waiting for a good movie about me. Who will play me?” The answer to that question, unlike the question of the Zodiac’s own identity, is now a matter of record: Richmond Arquette, Bob Stephenson and John Lacy.

But it’s not the Zodiac’s demands and questions that should interest us; it’s how we respond to them—and whether we should continue to oblige them after all these years. As Entertainment Weekly put it, “It’s possible that he could be sitting next to you in the theater.”

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5 Reasons Why “Zodiac” is a Modern Masterpiece of American Cinema

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Though the Academy Awards shut out the film thanks to an unreceptive public and an early March release, the stature of David Fincher’s Zodiac has only increased since its release a decade ago.

Cinephiles and mainstream filmgoers alike know Fincher’s name. His auteuristic artistry and his proclivity for a certain kind of chilling, pulpy adult escapism make him largely appealing to all. Fincher quickly shook off his low point origins of Alien 3 to put out great works like Seven, Fight Club and, one of the finest mainstream films of our decade, The Social Network.

Many could argue that Aaron Sorkin’s immaculate script automatically puts the 2010 modern classic at the top of Fincher’s filmography. But the labyrinth of provocative true-crime and de facto perfectionist filmmaking across a sprawling runtime makes 2007’s Zodiac his most impassioned, unconventional and career-defining film to date.

Furthermore, what follows are five reasons why Zodiac is a masterpiece of 21st century American cinema.

1. Fincher’s first foray into digital filmmaking results in a visual triumph

Zodiac

As if he was waiting for this change his entire career, with Zodiac Fincher finally made the switch to digital filmmaking versus actual film.

The Thomson Viper was employed for this project, after Fincher utilized it for many of the commercials he shot in the years leading up to 2007. Zodiac was not shot entirely on digital though – for the slow motion murder sequences he relies on traditional high-speed film cameras, and these brief scenes also point to his affinity with invisible visual effect enhancements; all that CG blood looks very real. His few touches of visual effects in his previous films like Panic Room here blossom into an indispensible part of capturing an uncanny period setting, and this more digitally inclined evolution would carry on to his most recent films.

Many of the transition scenes of Zodiac go by seamlessly due to the unnoticeable integration of visual effects with real environments. His following film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button affirmed Fincher’s own capabilities as a filmmaker grappling with a hefty budget and production challenges.

But in Zodiac, without so much money at his disposal, he makes one-off moments like the overhead shot of the camera following the exact turns of Paul Stein’s taxi and the reenacted time-lapse of construction for the Transamerica Pyramid entirely convincing.

Though he’d been experimenting with visual effects in the past, Zodiac marked an enormous conversion for Fincher’s career as his faultless integration of digital shooting and post-production manipulation was able to further his own inherently exacting filmmaking style. Visually, films like The Social Network and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo have only gone on to confirm that this shift has defined his aesthetic tone permanently.

2. The reflective themes make it Fincher’s most personal work

zodiac movie review reddit

Zodiac is more or less about all-consuming curiosity. Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance as Robert Graysmith works doubly as an insert for Fincher himself, full of unshaking, resilient curiosity. The opening credits reflect this, as the film’s title comes up just as Graysmith tells his son before school to “learn a lot,” cementing the quest for knowledge as one of the film’s primary themes. Moments like this and the Dirty Harry theater scene also suggest the movie works in a metatextual sense in some small way.

Even the dullest of moments in Zodiac are infused with a fire and fervor because Fincher’s own fascination with the story and the film he’s making is so obvious. Every revelation and new piece of information becomes bracing and absorbing. In a career full of fictional thrills, Zodiac functions as Fincher’s most personal, not to mention most truthful, work.

Fincher’s own inclination toward pulp thrillers with neo-noir elements had generally defined his work before this film, but all of his formal desires seem to reach their precipice and fulfillment in Zodiac. But what’s more than him mastering his favorite genre is his suitable quest for the truth in this film.

Zodiac is elevated in scariness and relevance by its commitment to the truth and a fair representation for the dead. Though Fincher ultimately affirms the suspicions in Graysmith’s book that Arthur Leigh Allen – played with casual creepiness by John Carroll Lynch – was likely the true killer contrary to hard evidence, in each respective sequence different actors represent this real-life boogeyman.

Despite the definitiveness with which Fincher makes his point and sways his audience to follow Graysmith’s line of thinking, the tinges of doubt that shroud this movie give it its characteristically unique unease and peculiar enjoyment – was Arthur Leigh Allen the real killer, or did Graysmith simply need his most burning question satisfied?

For as much as Fincher aims for a kind of clarity in dramatizing the facts, doubt is one the themes that makes Zodiac something to cherish. The story of trying to catch the Zodiac killer is a genuine case of truth is stranger than fiction – the path to enlightenment is unpaved, and the film reflects that in its sprawling scope and narrative unpredictability.

3. James Vanderbilt’s challenging script

Zodiac movie

Taking the biggest break of his career between films, Fincher took time to spend a few months reviewing the facts of the case firsthand, cautious about doing justice to the names of people who could not defend themselves, or could not erase how Fincher would finally portray them. James Vanderbilt’s original script was then improved by new interviews and perspectives of surviving players and victims, including Mike Mageau, the only living person to see Zodiac’s face.

The final screenplay is one of delicate precision in relation to the facts and downright impressive in getting across expositional and factual information. Packing nearly every scene with vital case facts somehow never makes the film feel stuffy or overambitious – even upon repeated viewings, nothing about the delivery or design of the dialogue rings false.

Fincher is notorious for forcing his actors through takes on takes (which Ruffalo respected, Gyllenhaal less so), so perhaps the realist flow of the unfolding true tale is a result of Fincher’s on-set obsessiveness. Yet within all of the facts there is room for character development aplenty.

Discreet humor is Vanderbilt’s way of elevating almost every moment of interplay between our three leads – though Downey Jr.’s Paul Avery provides enough charismatic hilarity on his own – and comedy frequently levels out the nonstop progression of names, dates and moody atmospheres.

A few avenues of misdirection also help to highlight how elusive our titular killer was and how mythic he became. The phony call to Melvin Beli (a refined Brian Cox) on television or Graysmith’s inquiry into Rick Marshall’s past with Bob Vaughn (Charles Fleischer) turned paranoid encounter emphasize the killer’s inherent mystery and the horrible potential for copycats.

And with such an anticlimactic story – a murder mystery with essentially no ending – the film still satisfies. Not only are we pretty sure by the credits that Allen was the Zodiac, but the small payoff of Graysmith’s motivations – his deep need to see Zodiac’s face and know it’s truly him – comes quietly full circle.

But even as the film makes sure emotional beats are there to grasp, the real pleasure of Zodiac is getting caught up in every tantalizing detail of the case and the scripts’ steady deconstruction of American cultures’ fascination with serial killers.

4. A most dynamic acting ensemble

zodiac-pres

The casting of Zodiac, down to its smallest roles, is worth commending – of Fincher’s films only The Social Network rivals it for wall-to-wall great performances.

Zodiac’s trio is a collection of some of the strongest performances from Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo or Robert Downey Jr., including the past ten years. Gyllenhaal’s work as Graysmith is a multifaceted portrayal of a meek cartoonist turned private investigator, capturing the nuances of his descent from interested passerby to a man with unyielding interest in the Zodiac killer’s true identity.

Ruffalo is our hero for the second act as homicide detective Dave Toschi, who gets extraordinarily close to confirming Allen as the true Zodiac before his career is ultimately dismantled by the case. Ruffalo’s turn as the hardy and finally very frustrated cop is complex and tragic, and though Gyllenhaal is our real protagonist, Ruffalo commitment makes him the acting acme of the film.

Downey Jr. plays very much to his strengths as the drunken crime journalist Paul Avery, who’s coverage of the case turns him into a target and, in his best scene as Graysmith visits him years after their friendship, an aged, boat-housed recluse.

The scripts’ wit needed no help from Downey Jr.’s own unconquerable charm, but he’s still one to be taken seriously here in the right context. The film balances its main characters in a delicate fashion, as they individually become important to the story in an almost unpredictable rhythm. Each performer works well in their own scenes, but the best character moments in Zodiac come from the brilliant interplay between our leads.

Every supporting character is also finely cast and, even for those in just a single scene, extremely memorable. Anthony Edwards is engaging as Toschi’s right hand man Bill Armstrong, and Chloë Sevigny is excellent as Graysmith’s patient, deadpan wife Melanie. And every even more minor role, as there are countless, is as praiseworthy as the aforementioned talent.

5. Fincher’s own meticulousness

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There are myriad gratifications to enjoy from the sweat of Fincher’s own idiosyncratic process. Regardless of a script, which is where all of Zodiac’s story smarts and clever exchanges lay, Fincher as a director had only to make his version of the truth as infallibly genuine as possibly, for the many details of this San Francisco story speak for themselves.

While even Kubrick might have found Fincher’s attention to detail a little much, Zodiac’s script allows for a generally mainstream appeal by telling an albeit complicated true tale as clearly and concisely as it can.

The film’s crisp pace is the result of skillful, breathlessly unfolding editing – despite so little action, Fincher’s eye in post-production manages to create a murder-thriller in which a somewhat bloody and eventful first act is followed by over an hour and a half of procedural and paranoid drama.

Only someone with such an all-encompassing vision as Fincher could see a project as intrinsically testy as this one through to perfection. So much of the film’s successes are in what you don’t notice – all of the disparate elements coalesce without a hitch.

Another asset is the film’s well-gathered music. Originally Fincher wanted only period-specific needle drops in the film, but ultimately the inky black, minimally spooky score of long-time composer David Shire was utilized to tonally even out the antiquated pop songs.

The opening murder sequence expresses this counterbalance well – the psychedelic rock of Donovan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man” is rendered almost punk when juxtaposed with the span of the crime. Then with the transition to Zodiac’s call to the police as cops pull onto the scene, Shire’s unobtrusive touch enhances the scene with such subtle creepiness.

The murders aren’t overemphasized, but they were methodically constructed. Beyond the fast frame cameras used to capture the gun-related murders in slow motion, the most disturbing scene in the film is the Lake Berryessa murder, which is both underplayed and utterly scary.

Fincher had trees flown in especially for the accuracy of this sequence’s setting, and this scene wouldn’t have the same effect without them. The Washington and Cherry crime scene investigation was also conceived entirely for the sake of genuineness. The actual location had changed distinctly over the years, and the set reconstruction and flawless CG filling in the cracks makes Dave Toschi’s introduction a substantial cinematic moment.

Fincher seems drawn toward authenticity instinctually. His painstakingly precise visual depiction of the late 1960s and 1970s where the most of the film takes place is but a fragment of his own filmmaking obsession in Zodiac.

As much as Fincher cares about the reality of what he depicts, he also want you to believe the preoccupation of the people involved in the hunt for Zodiac, and to thereby take interest in the case yourself. In Zodiac, entertainment and truth meet at the most blissful of cinematic crossroads. It only makes sense that Fincher’s most fact-based film is appropriately his most scrupulous.

Author Bio: Ian Flanagan is an aspiring writer on film from Pittsburgh and a recent graduate from Pitt with a degree in Film Studies. You can view his film reviews and past published work at filmbriefing.com .

The Ending Of Zodiac Explained

Robert Graysmith in hardware store

David Fincher's " Zodiac " is a gripping mystery-thriller about a real life serial killer who stalked the Bay Area in the 1960s and '70s. It follows detectives, reporters, and one obsessive political cartoonist as they try to stop the spotlight-loving Zodiac in his tracks. The crew works with — and against — each other to crack the case of Zodiac's real identity and decipher his coded messages to the press, all while the killer's body count gets higher.

"Zodiac" is a study of obsession and an illustration of a frustrating investigation. The mystery was unsolved when the movie came out in 2007, and remains so today. Still, the film explores how important it is to be persistent in the pursuit of the truth, and how corrosive the cost of that pursuit can be. It also examines the impact the attention economy has on killers, victims, and those for whom murder might be "good business."

While "Zodiac" is considered a neo-noir classic, it has been known to confound audiences. The film's ending can be seen as confusing, anticlimactic — or even just dead wrong. Join us as we sort through piles of false leads and circumstantial evidence to finally decipher the ending of "Zodiac."

What you need to remember about the plot

Robert Graysmith ( Jake Gyllenhaal ) is an awkward single dad working as a political cartoonist at the San Francisco Chronicle when the first Zodiac letter arrives. Crime reporter Paul Avery ( Robert Downey Jr. ) follows up on the letter to the editor, in which he claims recent killings as his own and demands his cipher be made front-page news. Graysmith might be bad with people but he's great with puzzles. His insights into how Zodiac operates bring him into Avery and ace detective Dave Toschi's ( Mark Ruffalo ) orbit. The unlikely trio navigate decades of dead-ends, miscommunications, jurisdictional grudges, and systemic failures as they try and fail to get their man.

As time marches on, Toschi turns to other cases and Avery hits the bottle, but Graysmith cannot shake his obsession with finding out who the Zodiac killer could really be. What starts as a noble quest to bring a killer to justice ends with Graysmith neglecting his family in order to start his own somewhat doomed investigation. Under the guise of writing his "Zodiac" book, Graysmith almost conclusively links the crimes to the movie's most likely prime suspect — Arthur Leigh Allen (John Carroll Lynch). Too bad he's already been cleared by the authorities.

In many detective thrillers, unlikely allies band together to solve the mystery and save the day in the nick of time. In "Zodiac", that misfit gang takes forever to finally come together, then splinter, then only sort of reunite — all over the course of decades. While "Zodiac" isn't a typical "teamwork makes the dream work" detective story, it breaks viewers' hearts with how good a team Toschi, Avery, and Graysmith could have been with a little more communication and a lot less stacked against them.

The seeds of doubt

Though "Zodiac" and the Graysmith books favor Arthur Leigh Allen as the prime suspect, the filmmakers didn't want to be too conclusive. In real life, there are a multitude of suspects who could be the Zodiac killer — or killers. To account for the multiple suspects and the variation of eye witness accounts, the masked or otherwise obscured Zodiac killer is played by different actors in each attack portrayed in "Zodiac."

The slight shifts in the actors' height, build, and vocal tone allow for a paranoid uncertainty to infect much of the film, even when the interview sequence with the Zodiac watch-wearing, Wing Walker boot-sporting, bloody knife-having Arthur Leigh Allen seems to scream "this is the guy right here!" Audiences, like Toschi, feel absolutely certain they have their man — until doubt is cast again when Graysmith hears footsteps in the basement.

Grown-up Zodiac survivor Mike Mageau (Jimmi Simpson) identifies Arthur Leigh Allen out of a photostrip line-up, but his (and our) certainty is immediately undercut by doubt. The detective asks Mageau if he's sure, and when Mageau taps another suspect's face to comment on how his attacker had a rounder face like this second man, both detective and victim seem a little bit flustered by how neither of them can be quite sure. Mageau settles on Allen in the end, but the seeds of doubt are already cast.

What happened at the end of Zodiac?

After the Zodiac goes quiet, Graysmith is more obsessed than ever. He neglects his family and soon-to-be second ex-wife in favor of finding Z's "one mistake." Toschi is working other murder cases — it's not like Zodiac was the only game in town for the last couple decades. Avery, ever more paranoid after Zodiac targeted him with a personal "you're doomed" Halloween card, has started writing for a tabloid rag and drinking heavily. Graysmith re-investigates on his own and gets into hot water chasing up a lead with similar handwriting to Z.

After Graysmith earns his Survive A Creepy Basement with a Possible Serial Killer badge, he finds Z's "mistake" after all. Graysmith chats with Melvin Belli's (Brian Cox) housekeeper about the threatening calls Belli received on December 18, when he was out of town. The voice told the housekeeper he was calling on his birthday. Graysmith finds a handy copy of Allen's driver's license, and notes his birthday — December 18. Graysmith races to present his bouquet of circumstantial evidence to Toschi, but, while Toschi seems to agree, Graysmith has nothing to prove his case in a court of law.

Still, Graysmith goes to see Leigh for himself at an Ace Hardware, and, while nothing is said, a moment of recognition seems to pass between the two men. Later, Graysmith writes his book, and it's a smash success. The case is reopened, and Mike Mageau, all grown up, ID's Allen — who dies of a heart attack before any charges can be pressed. If it weren't for this unspoken moment of understanding, Graysmith might not have written his book, the case may not have gotten new attention, and Mageau probably wouldn't have been contacted to ID Allen.

Closure for a cold case

The Zodiac murders have remained unsolved for decades, so it's not exactly like "Zodiac" could pull a "happy" ending. However, viewers sucked into the movie's investigation wanted something from "Zodiac" — the truth. Fincher doesn't give it to them. "I think Truman Capote wrote a really interesting thing in 'In Cold Blood' — that there is no truth," Fincher said of the film's ending in Graysmith's book " Shooting Zodiac ."

Still, despite grim reality, screenwriter James Vanderbilt worked to create a satisfying if bittersweet arc to the film. "Fairly early on, I came up with the scene in the hardware store," Vanderbilt says in a behind the scenes featurette . "And I said, 'Okay, this is how we're going to be able to give an emotional closure to the picture if not sort of a plot closure." The scene in question is the onscreen culmination of Graysmith's obsession. As his apartment fills with files on the Zodiac, it empties of any life beyond the case.

But, despite his efforts to find actual evidence, Graysmith tells his soon-to-be second ex-wife, "I need to look him in the eye, and I need to know that it's him." When Graysmith tracks Allen down, he achieves that goal — along with a terrible transformation. Graysmith's quest for truth has changed him from a bright-eyed, innocent young man to a forever haunted one. For what it's worth, the Ace Hardware scene gives Graysmith (and audiences) a sense of closure real-life victims can't have — and a sense of closure the real investigation has never achieved.

A study of obsession

Our desires can sometimes cost us dearly, and "Zodiac" explores the high price of obsessing over what it is we're after. Of course, the Zodiac killer himself is obsessed — with taking life and showing off his kills. Even though he escapes capture, his desire to be seen as the cleverest serial killer of all time brings him uncomfortably close to it.

Graysmith's obsession with the Zodiac is played as a counterpoint to the Zodiac's obsession with his own twisted fame. At one point, Graysmith even has his kids helping him cross-reference lunar cycles with Zodiac killings. While Graysmith "gets" his man when he goes to the hardware store and looks Allen in the eye, justice isn't done. Yes, his obsessiveness yields a hit book and generates new interest in the case, but it's a bittersweet success — murder has become "good" for Graysmith's business, after all.

Avery's obsession with being the first to scoop the world on the Zodiac killer shifts to paranoia soon enough, and we're led to believe that Avery's fear of falling victim to the killer drives him off the Chronicle masthead. Toschi, meanwhile, is shown to be a by-the-book detective despite how frustrating and painstaking this can be. While Toschi leans on his pragmatism, he can't shake Zodiac. This is why he risks everything (including his badge) to "not" help Graysmith with his unauthorized investigation in the end. Come the finale, it's clear that Zodiac "got" the trio without actually harming them physically.

The voice of reason

Serial killer psychology was just starting to be formally explored during Zodiac's time (see the Fincher-directed TV show " Mindhunter "), and the killer's thirst for blood and attention ups the pressure on our trio. In Graysmith's case, it makes him famous, even if that wasn't his initial intention. Toschi begins the movie as a quick, clever mind who can put himself into a killer's shoes without forgetting about his victims. He ends it much the same, but slightly disgraced by his own desire for attention. When Toschi sends fake fan letters praising himself to Armistead Maupin's column, he comes under suspicion for faking Zodiac letters himself. Despite his demotion for this pick-me move, Toschi's still compelled to help the beyond-compulsive Graysmith.

Graysmith's wife Melanie (Chloe Sevigny) is the only check on his hubris, and, by extension, Toschi's as well. Everyone is so busy playing detective that they ignore the danger they are putting themselves and their families in. By the end of the movie, it becomes clear that the only sensible person is the one who isn't really involved in the case — Melanie. Speaking to Collider , Sevigny said that she started reading Graysmith's book when she got the part but she gave up on it. "I was like, 'I just don't want to read about this anymore,'" she said. "That's probably how Melanie is. She doesn't want to hear about it anymore. It's this morbid subject. Her kids are threatened. I feel like that's probably how she was. She just wanted it out of her face."

What has the cast and crew of Zodiac said about the ending?

Watching "Zodiac" is a cerebral, paperwork-and-palpitations experience. For as much as it's a straightforward story about a sprawling, decades-long dead-end case, it is also about the exhaustion and exaltation uncertainty holds for Zodiac's investigators. There is always a new way of looking at something; there is always more information; there is always the promise of the case's big break in the next file folder — or buried in evidence already reviewed twice-over.

At times, our gang is convinced the Zodiac's symbol is a gunsight, a film reel focus symbol, or a watch logo. All to say, nothing is certain. Yet, "Zodiac" certainly favors Allen as its prime suspect, much like Toschi and Graysmith did in real life. Still, "Zodiac" makes a point to be just short of definitive. As screenwriter James Vanderbilt explains in a behind the scenes featurette : "This is the conclusion that [Toschi and Graysmith] arrived at. That doesn't necessarily mean that we believe that that's the truth, but that's what our characters believe is the truth."

Any casual online search of "Zodiac killer theories" will return an almost endless critique of the "facts" presented in "Zodiac," as well as in Graysmith's books. One of those books, "Shooting Zodiac," details the 18 months of research Fincher and his team conducted with detectives, witnesses, and survivors. "There's an enormous amount of hearsay in any circumstantial case, and I wanted to look some of these people in the eye and see if I believed them," Fincher told The New York Times . "It was an extremely difficult thing to make a movie that posthumously convicts somebody."

Zodiac's alternate ending

"Zodiac" largely sticks to the narrative in place in the Graysmith books, as well as conclusions drawn by Fincher and his fellow filmmakers during their pre-production research (though Fincher told The New York Times that he refused to include things "that we don't have a police report for"). What's interesting is that the first draft of "Zodiac" had a different ending , closing on a scene where Graysmith floors a bunch of dismissive agents with the information he has gathered over the course of a decade. When they ask him to stick around for a while to discuss his theory further, he says: "Sorry. I gotta go pick up my kids."

David Fincher's Director's Cut shows a more concerted effort to officially name Allen as the prime suspect, and embellishes the Marvin Belli "birthday mistake" safari trip. Fincher also told The New York Times of an omission he had to make for time — a two-minute music montage over black that would show the passage of four years via music, starting with Joni Mitchell and ending with Donna Summer. Instead, the sequence is replaced with a card reading "Four Years Later."

In most interviews Fincher gave about the film, he remarked how it was a stylistic departure, a movie centered on people talking rather than visual spectacle. Known for his obsessive takes even before "Zodiac," it's easy to see how working in uncharted, talkier waters might have encouraged Fincher to ask even more of his actors — like takes in the high double digits. While it's certain Fincher chose what he considered the best performances, the investigative audience member can't help but wonder what else he left on the cutting room floor that might have changed the ending of the movie.

The most dangerous game

At several points in the film, Toschi says that there are many more murders to solve other than the Zodiac's — even if that truth does nothing to dull his own obsession. The clues, the ciphers, the dead-end detection, the other suspects, and the "confessions" can make anyone scrolling through the details as obsessive as Graysmith in no time. David Fincher is clearly one such obsessive. His months of research and interviewing, let alone time spent filmmaking "Zodiac," are the product of a connection to the killings that began in childhood. Fincher grew up in Marin County, on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge. As a kid, Zodiac created a panic around school buses after he threatened, via publication, to "shoot the kiddies" as they got off the bus. Fincher picnicked at Lake Berryessa, the site of one of the Zodiac's deadly attacks.

Late in the movie, a witness (Clea DuVall) tells Graysmith he has "the look" — a haunted, hollow-eyed look she's seen before on other people obsessed with the Zodiac killer. Fincher must know that look well — his body of work has explored killers and what makes them tick from many angles. However, because it's a true story and one he was so close to growing up, "Zodiac" was extra important to Fincher. "He knows he's taking a stab at eternity," Mark Ruffalo told The New York Times . "He knows that this will outlive him. And he's not going to settle for anything other than satisfaction, deep satisfaction. Somewhere along the line he said, 'I will not settle for less.'"

Regardless of timeless fame, the ending of "Zodiac" tells us that this is a film made with a meticulous eye, a careful hand, and a desperate heart — all trying to discover an impossible truth.

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Zodiac

Metacritic reviews

  • 100 Village Voice Village Voice Zodiac exhausts more than one genre. Termite art par excellence, it burrows for the sake of burrowing, as fascinated by its own nooks and crannies as "Inland Empire."
  • 100 Newsweek David Ansen Newsweek David Ansen The movie holds you in its grip from start to finish.
  • 100 Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman Zodiac never veers from its stoically gripping, police-blotter tone, yet it begins to take on the quality of a dream.
  • 90 The Hollywood Reporter Michael Rechtshaffen The Hollywood Reporter Michael Rechtshaffen Firing on all cylinders as a creepy thriller, police procedural and "All the President's Men"-style investigative newsroom drama, the smart, extremely vivid production oozes period authenticity.
  • 90 Variety Todd McCarthy Variety Todd McCarthy Conveying an astonishing array of information across a long narrative arc while still maintaining dramatic rhythm and tension, this adaptation of Robert Graysmith's bestseller reps by far director David Fincher's most mature and accomplished work.
  • 90 L.A. Weekly L.A. Weekly Zodiac may be the perfect meeting of filmmaker and subject ­-- an obsessive's portrait of obsession that is, finally, a monument to irresolution.
  • 88 Rolling Stone Peter Travers Rolling Stone Peter Travers Unique and unmissable.
  • 88 Premiere Glenn Kenny Premiere Glenn Kenny It makes for a daringly different kind of thriller -- cerebral, meticulous, haunting.
  • 70 New York Magazine (Vulture) David Edelstein New York Magazine (Vulture) David Edelstein What begins like your basic police procedural becomes more and more choppy and diffuse. To a point, that’s intentional: Zodiac was never caught, and Fincher aims to creep you out with the lack of closure.
  • 67 Austin Chronicle Marjorie Baumgarten Austin Chronicle Marjorie Baumgarten At 2 1/2 hours, the film is too long in the telling and too short on suspense.
  • See all 40 reviews on Metacritic.com
  • See all external reviews for Zodiac

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Kill Movie Review: ये तीन कमियां ना होतीं तो और मजा आ जाता फिल्म देखने में, जानिए कैसी एक्शन से भरपूर किल

Kill movie review: लक्ष्य लालवानी और राघव जुयाल की फिल्म आखिरकार पर्दे पर आ गई है. इस आर्टिकल में पढ़िये क्या हैं इस फिल्म की खूबियां और खामियां..

Kill Movie Review: ये तीन कमियां ना होतीं तो और मजा आ जाता फिल्म देखने में, जानिए कैसी एक्शन से भरपूर किल

5 जुलाई को दो फिल्में रिलीज होनी थीं जिनमें एक थी 'औरों में कहां दम था' और दूसरी 'किल' लेकिन औरों में कहा दम था की रिलीज को आगे किसका दिया गया और इस हफ्ते रह गई सिर्फ ‘किल'. निखिल नागेश भट्ट द्वारा निर्देशित किल का निर्माण किया है करण जौहर और अपनी डायक्यूमेंट्री एलिफैंट व्हिस्परर्स के लिए ऑस्कर जीतने वाली निर्माता गुनीत मूंगा ने.

कास्ट - लक्ष्य , राघव जुयाल, आशीष विद्यार्थी, हर्ष छाया  और तान्या मानिकतला  सिनेमेटोग्राफी - राफे महमूद साउंड डिजाइन - सुभाष साहू फौली आर्टिस्ट - गिरीश सिंह

कहानी  अमृत और वीरेश दो एनएसजी कमांडो हैं जब वो अपने मिशन से वापस लौटते हैं तो उन्हें पता लगता है की अमृत जिस लड़की से प्यार करते हैं उसकी सगाई हो रही है और ये जानते ही ये दोनों कमांडो उस शहर के लिए निकल पड़ते हैं जहां सगाई है. अमृत वहां पहुंचकर तुलिका यानी जिस से वो प्यार करते है कहते हैं की वो उनके साथ चले पर तुलिका उन्हें ये कहकर वापस भेज देती है की सगाई चाहे किसी से भी हो शादी वो अमृत से ही करेंगी. सगाई के बाद तुलिका और उनका परिवार वापस जाने के लिए ट्रेन से सफर कर रहे होते हैं और उसी ट्रेन में अमृत और उनका कमांडो दोस्त वीरेश भी हैं और तभी कुछ डाकू इस ट्रेन को लूटने के लिए इसमें चढ़ जाते हैं और फिर शुरू होती है एक एक्शन और थ्रिलर फिल्म.

  • ये फिल्म यूं तो ज्यादा लंबी नहीं है पर कहानी के नाम पर इसमें खास कुछ नहीं .
  • डाकू और डैकैतियों पर बहुत सी फिल्में आई हैं तो आईडिया के नाम पर इसमें फ्रेशनेस नहीं है.
  • फिल्म में गुनीत मूंगा का नाम जुड़ने से उम्मीदें बढ़ जाती हैं की शायद ये फिल्म कुछ कहती होगी, कोई गहरा मुद्दा होगा फिल्म में पर ऐसा नहीं है.
  •  इस फिल्म में शायद 20 या 25 मिनट के बाद एक्शन शुरू हो जाता है और इस फिल्म की ताकत है इसका एक्शन. शायद इतना क्रूर एक्शन किसी फिल्म में देखा गया हो. सबसे बड़ी बात ये की फिल्म में एक घंटे और बीस मिनट से ज्यादा का एक्शन है पर ये आपको पलकें नहीं झपकाने देता. इतने एक्शन को इतनी देर तक जमा के रखना और दर्शकों को बांधे रखना कबीले तारीफ है. इसके अलावा जिस तरह से एक्शन को कोरियोग्राफ किया गया है फिर चाहे वो हाथ की लड़ाई हो, दरांती, चाकू, गंडासा या फिर लाइटर , एक्शन डायरेक्टर से यांग हो और परवेज शेख ने बड़ी खूबी और नयेपन के साथ इनका इस्तेमाल किया है.
  • दूसरी तारीफ बनती है सिनेमेटोग्राफर राफे महमूद की क्योंकि ट्रेन के सेट पर इतनी लंबी फाइट को शूट करते हुए इस बात का खयाल रखना की वो रोचक बनी रहे साथ ही इतनी कम जगह में कैमरा मूवमेंट्स और लाइटिंग करना बहुत मुश्किल काम था जो उन्होंने बखूबी किया है.
  • इस फ़िल्म में सिनेमेटोग्राफर , एक्शन डायरेक्टर के अलावा साउंड डिजाइन का बहुत बड़ा हाथ है क्योंकि एक्शन का दम और उसका इफेक्ट साउंड डिजाइन के बिना उभर नहीं सकता था तो सुभाष साहू की साउंड डिजाइन की तारीफ बनती है.
  • साउंड डिजाइन के साथ एक और महत्वपूर्ण चीज है जो की साउंड का ही हिस्सा है और वो है फौली साउंड यानी वो आवाजें जो आपको तलवार , चाकू  कोई भी हथियार चलने की सुनाई देती हैं. मुक्का, ट्रेन या खून निकालने की आवाज, टूटने , चीरने की आवाज, अगर ये सारी आवाजें ना हों तो ये एक्शन फीका पड़ जाये और सबसे बड़ी बात इतने एक्शन में हर आवाज में एक अलग इफेक्ट देना बहुत मुश्किल काम है जो फॉली आर्टिस्ट गिरीश सिंह ने बेहद खूबसूरती से किया है.
  • अब बात कलाकारों की लक्ष्य एक्शन में कन्विंसिंग लगते है और उनका गुस्सा, एक्शन, इमोशन बेहतरीन है. राघव जुयाल अपनी एक्टिंग से फिल्म में छाप छोड़ते हैं खासतौर पर उनकी डायलॉग डिलीवरी. आशीष विद्यार्थी कमाल के एक्टर है और यहां डकैत होते हुए भी उन्होंने अपने इमोशंस को अपने परिवार और बेटे  के लिए बड़े सधे हुई एक्टिंग से जाहिर किया है. फिल्म में वो जबर्दस्त छाप छोड़ते हैं.
  • अंत में तारीफ डायरेक्टर निखिल नाग भट्ट की जिन्होंने सिर्फ एक्शन के बल पे एक कसी हुई फिल्म बनाई. ये बहुत मुश्किल काम था पर उन्होंने बखूबी इस फिल्म का डायरेक्शन किया है और हर कलाकार और क्रू से कमाल का काम निकलवाया है.

इस फ़िल्म में अगर कुछ गहराई, संदेश या मसौदा और होता तो और अच्छा होता बस फिल्म की यही कमी मुझे इसे सिर्फ 3 स्टार देने पर मजबूर करती है.  

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Kill Movie Review: ये तीन कमियां ना होतीं तो और मजा आ जाता फिल्म देखने में, जानिए कैसी एक्शन से भरपूर किल

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‘despicable me 4’ review: gru’s family grows in illumination animation that serves up familiar antics.

Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig are joined by Joey King, Stephen Colbert and Chloe Fineman in the latest franchise installment, co-written by Mike White.

By Lovia Gyarkye

Lovia Gyarkye

Arts & Culture Critic

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Minions (Pierre Coffin) in Despicable Me 4, directed by Chris Renaud.

In Despicable Me 4 , the latest installment of Illumination Studio’s popular franchise, Gru (a winning Steve Carell) confronts the subtle villainy of suburban life. There’s something about the charmed aesthetics of Mayflower that doesn’t sit right. Maybe it’s the near-identical cottage-style homes, all painted the same shade of eggshell white and retrofitted with pristine pools; or perhaps it’s the residents, a wealthy and entitled bunch bent on excluding the unfamiliar. Whatever the reason, the vibes are certainly off. 

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Despicable Me 4 begins with an exciting confrontation (courtesy of slick angles and tense music by composer Heitor Pereira) between Gru and a new villain, Maxime Le Mal (Will Ferrell). The pair’s history goes back to when they were students at Lycee Pas Bon, the premier institution for aspiring bad guys. They meet again at their school reunion, which, no matter the length of your rap sheet, is still fraught with aged tensions, awkward exchanges and not-so-subtle competitive small talk.

At the soirée, Maxime, a cockroach obsessive, unveils his new invention, a device that endows him with qualities of the near-indestructible vermin. Gru, newly reinstated to the Anti-Villain League after the shenanigans of Despicable Me 3 , only attended the reunion to arrest Maxime, which he does after the latter’s dramatic presentation. 

The new identities are a tough sell and some of the most winning moments in Despicable Me 4 detail the family’s attempts to fit into Mayflower. Gru swaps out his signature dark garb and scarf for khakis and pink polo shirts. He’s now a part-time solar power salesman and stay-at-home dad. Lucy becomes a world-class beautician, working in the stuffy salon on Main Street. Margo attends a new junior high school, where popular girl Poppy (an excellent Joey King) reigns supreme. Meanwhile, Agnes and Edith attend a karate program run by a menacing instructor (Brad Ableson). That endeavor makes for some inventive sequences, including a surprisingly high-stakes supermarket chase involving Lucy and the girls. 

The cast delivers engaging voice performances, with Carell and King leading the pack. As Gru, Carell retains the villain’s signature irritability while also touching on the vulnerable enthusiasm of raising his new infant. Trying to bond with Gru Jr., who rejects his paternal affection, becomes top priority for this dad. The other mission is to befriend the country-club family next door, who seemingly want nothing to do with their neighbors. Perry (Stephen Colbert) treats Gru with cutting disdain, and through their interactions the subtle cruelty of this suburb is evident. Patsy (Chloe Fineman) is friendlier, and even invites Gru and Lucy to the country club for drinks and tennis. 

While the Grus adjust to a quiet life, Maxime hunts for them. He and his wife get into their own frenzied adventures, but this part of the narrative feels underdeveloped at times. Maxime plans to abduct Gru Jr. as payback, which is a far cry from the early threats of extermination, but still evil. Running a brisk 95 minutes, Despicable Me 4 doesn’t leave enough time for Maxime to enact his plans in a way that packs an emotional punch.

The fate of the Minions offers some genuinely laugh-out-loud moments and impressively detailed animation. Silas enlists the gaggle of yellow beings to train as the AVL’s top agents. A select group of them undergo an experimental treatment that turns them into super Minions. Their training sequences — both at AVL headquarters and in the city — stick to the tradition of Illumination animators having fun with the Loony Tunes-style bits. They also end up, somewhat ironically, grounding Despicable Me 4 , which can get dizzying with its twists and turns. When in doubt of direction, just trust the Minions.

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Review: ‘Despicable Me 4’ swirls with overplotted mania and should prove distracting enough

A girl with braces schemes with her minions.

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“Despicable Me 4” should come with a subtitle: “The Kitchen Sink.” That’s because this latest installment of Illumination’s mega-grossing animated franchise jams in a grab-bag of physical and visual gags and anything-goes action, plus a barrage of narrative dead ends, subplots and characters, as it strains to fill its 90 or so minutes of eye-popping, brain-draining mayhem.

Despite a few chuckles, some capable voice work and plenty of splashy color, it proves a largely empty and exhausting ride.

It’s doubtful that the average viewer — initiated or new to the series — will be able to recount a fully coherent summary of the film’s whirling-dervish plot, penned by Ken Daurio (a writer on all the “Despicable” entries) and Mike White (“The White Lotus”). The convoluted story won’t stop families from lining up for this one, but be forewarned.

Said plot involves “Despicable” series star Gru (voiced by Steve Carell), that lovably hapless, curiously accented supervillain-turned-hero (he of the ovoid head and woodpecker-like nose), who’s forced into a sort of witness protection program after running afoul of his old childhood nemesis, the uber-evil Maxime Le Mal (Will Ferrell). Le Mal, a eurotrashy Frenchman with an equally wicked and flamboyant girlfriend (an underused Sofia Vergara), has vowed revenge against Gru and his family, so steps must be taken. Although the origin story for their longtime feud is sure to go over the heads of any small fries in attendance, it’s hardly the stuff of do-or-die wars. But whatever.

Gru’s Anti-Villain League (AVL) boss, Silas Ramsbottom (Steve Coogan), whose own head resembles a malleable eggplant, sets up Gru and his family — plucky wife Lucy (Kristen Wiig), also an AVL agent; trio of adopted young daughters and feisty baby son — in the idyllic town of Mayflower under assumed identities. Gru becomes a solar panel salesman named Chet Cunningham. Lucy now must go by “Blanche” and, despite zero tonsorial talent, work as a hairstylist (a labored story segue with little payoff).

Animated tennis players make karate moves as they prepare for combat.

There are neighbors: super-snooty, swoop-jawed car dealer Perry (Stephen Colbert), his socialite wife, Patsy (Chloe Fineman), and their teen daughter, Poppy (Joey King). The latter, an evildoer-in-training, quickly susses out Gru’s true identity and blackmails him into a dicey heist at Gru and Le Mal’s alma mater, the imposing Lycée Pas Bon, a high school for villains. The result is another haywire set piece and the theft of an erratic honey badger.

What else? Well, Le Mal can turn himself into a giant, ultra-destructive cockroach because why not? Gru’s two youngest daughters join a karate class led by an inexplicably hostile sensei (Brad Abelson). Oh, and Gru ends up over his head in a tennis game with Perry and his country club friends but eventually shows them all who’s boss — to no great avail.

There’s a kidnapping (not the first in this series); a school principal in a wheelchair that transforms into a kind of monster truck; and a death-defying (read: consequence-free) climactic battle that feels Looney Tunes-ridiculous even for a movie like this.

Much more is stuffed into the proceedings, including the franchise’s famed Minions, those yellow, gibberish-babbling, capsule-shaped little pranksters (all voiced by their co-creator, Pierre Coffin), who largely exist to assist Gru. Yet they’re used here more as a chaotic diversion than any vital plot propeller.

This image release by Illumination & Universal Pictures shows a scene from "Despicable Me 4," (Illumination & Universal Pictures via AP)

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While Coogan’s Ramsbottom injects five of the creatures with a special serum that affords them a nutty array of superhero-like powers, the rest of the Minions are stuck at Gru’s house where they’re continually at odds with a vending machine. Whatever their purpose in “4,” they remain yappy, annoying and rambunctious — even if the mighty, so-called Mega Minions can now (ineptly) decimate a city.

Directed by Illumination veteran Chris Renaud (the first two “Despicable Me” films, “The Lorax” and both “Secret Life of Pets” movies are all his), one can’t fault the movie’s speedy pace. The picture may be wearying, but it’s rarely boring. (Patrick Delage is credited as co-director.)

On the music front, Heitor Pereira returns to provide the film’s effective, at times eclectic score. Pharrell Williams’ past “Despicable” themes are reprised, plus Williams wrote and performs the catchy new original song “Double Life.” There are also several fun needle drops and a lively, late-breaking use of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.”

A tremendous amount of craft, talent, resources and, no doubt, affection goes into a film like this, all of which can’t be overlooked. One just wishes the final product evolved the series into something smarter and more dimensional and offered perhaps a timelier, more meaningful message for family audiences. Well, there’s always “Despicable Me 5.”

'Despicable Me 4'

Rating: PG, for action and rude humor Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes Playing: In wide release July 3

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Just watched Zodiac for the first time. What a refreshing film.

Directed by David Fincher and what I believe to be one of his best films. Any thoughts?

Edit: I really am starting to enjoy the way Fincher gathers all of is facts and really researches the topic he wants his movies to be about. In Zodiac I feel he really captured the essence of the actual crime story with all the multiple theories on the Zodiac killer as well as the overall feel of this fil taking place in the 1970's. Gone Girl I thought was a similar style as he really stayed true to the book.

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‘Kalki 2898 AD’ Review: Lavish Tollywood Sci-Fi Epic Is an Unabashedly Derivative Spectacle

Telugu cinema superstar Prabhas swashbuckles as a Han Solo clone.

By Joe Leydon

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Kalki 2898 AD

With “ Kalki 2898 AD ,” Telugu cinema filmmaker Nag Ashwin rifles through a century of sci-fi and fantasy extravaganzas to create a wildly uneven mashup of everything from Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” to Marvel Comics movies, underpinned by elements from the Hindu epic poem “Mahabharata.” It’s billed, perhaps optimistically, as the first chapter of the Kalki Cinematic Universe franchise — which makes it part of a larger trend, since it launches the same weekend that Kevin Costner’s multi-film “Horizon” saga does in the U.S.

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Bhairava (Telugu superstar Prabhas ), a roguish bounty hunter who rolls in a tricked-out faux Batmobile equipped with a robotic co-pilot, yearns to earn enough “credits” to buy his way into the Complex, where he can crash the best parties, ride horses through open fields and avoid all the debt collectors hounding him in Kasi. He seizes on the opportunity to make his dreams come true when a colossal reward is posted for the capture of SUM-80 (Deepika Padukone), an escapee from the Complex’s Project K lab, where pregnant women are routinely incinerated after being drained of fluids that can ensure Yaskin’s longevity.

While on the run through a desert wasteland, en route to the rebel enclave known as Shambala, SUM-80 is renamed Sumati by newfound allies and, more important, protected by the now-ancient Ashwatthama (Amitabh Bachchan), who has evolved into an 8-foot-tall sage with superhuman strength, kinda-sorta like Obi-Wan Kenobi on steroids, and a sharp eye for any woman who might qualify as the Mother, the long-prophesized parent of — yes, you guessed it — Kalki.

Bhairava and his droid sidekick Bujji (voiced by Shambala Keerthy Suresh) follow in hot pursuit, and are in turn pursued by an army of storm troopers led by Commander Manas (Saswata Chatterjee), a cherubic-faced Yaskin factotum who always seems to be trying a shade too hard to exude intimidating, butch-level authority. Ashwatthama swats away the storm troopers and their flying vehicles like so many bothersome flies, and exerts only slightly more effort by warding off Bhairava and his high-tech weaponry. (Shoes that enable you to fly do qualify as weaponry, right?)

For his own part, Bhairava has a few magical powers of his own, though it’s never entirely clear what he can or cannot do with them. After a while, it’s tempting to simply assume that, in any given scene, the bounty hunter can do whatever the script requires him to do.

But never mind: He and Ashwatthama do their respective things excitingly well during the marathon of mortal combat that ensues when just about everybody (including Manas and his heavily armed goons) get ready to rumble in Shambala for the climactic clash.

All of which may make “Kalki 2898 AD” sound a great deal more coherent than it actually is. Truth to tell, this is a movie that can easily lead you at some point to just throw up your hands and go with the flow. Or enjoy the rollercoaster ride. And if this really is, as reported, the most expensive motion picture ever produced in India, at least it looks like every penny and more is right there up on the screen.

Reviewed at AMC Fountains 18, Houston, June 26, 2024. Running time: 181 MIN.

  • Production: An AA Films release of a Vyjayanthi Movies production. Producer: C. Aswini Dutt.
  • Crew: Director, writer: Nag Ashwin. Dialogue: Sai Madhav Burra. Camera: Djordje Stojiljkovic. Editor: Kotagiri Venkateswara Rao. Music: Santhosh Narayanan.
  • With: Prabhas, Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Kamal Haasan, Disha Patani. (Telugu, English dialogue)

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COMMENTS

  1. Zodiac (2007): A discussion. : r/movies

    MembersOnline. •. MagicClutch. ADMIN MOD. Zodiac (2007): A discussion. When people ask me what my favourite movie is I usually default to Zodiac. I don't think it's "the best" but it is my favourite. The acting, the music, the look and feel. I think it's criminally under appreciated.

  2. Zodiac is one of the best movies that I have ever seen ...

    Zodiac was shot on a camera called the Thompson Viper, which never entered mass production as a movie camera and was effectively obsolete by the time the movie was released. Nevertheless I think it gives the movie a much nicer look and color palette than many of Fincher's later movies (shot on Red digital cinema cameras).

  3. Zodiac (2007) Discussion : r/movies

    Honestly, I consider the movie and the book to be two very different things. Zodiac, the book by Robert Graysmith, is a very biased work of nonfiction that bends facts in order to make Arthur Leigh Allen look guilty.I read it when I was younger and found it quite convincing, but I reread it right before I covered the Zodiac on my true crime podcast (apologies for the shameless plug) and found ...

  4. Zodiac Movie Review and Star Rating

    Zodiac not only serves as a masterclass in procedural crime thrillers but also holds its ground among other classics in the genre. It seamlessly fits into the realm of films like Memories of Murder, Silence of the Lambs, and even Fincher's own later works like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.The film's enduring relevance is a testament to its status as a certified classic and a landmark of ...

  5. Zodiac movie review & film summary (2007)

    Zodiac. Roger Ebert August 23, 2007. Tweet. A cartoonist (Jake Gyllenhaal, left) teams up with an ace reporter (Robert Downey Jr.) to track down an elusive serial killer in Zodiac. Director David Fincher, an elegant stylist, finds the right pace and style for a story about persistence in the face of evil. Now streaming on: Powered by JustWatch.

  6. Zodiac

    The notorious San Francisco Bay Area serial killer might have eluded law enforcement agencies for decades, but this compelling cat-and-mouse story never escapes the virtuoso grip of director David ...

  7. Zodiac Review: The Films of David Fincher

    Zodiac is not a serial killer film. Unlike Se7en the Zodiac murders aren't lurid or unnervingly artful. They are absolutely, painfully brutal. He is a force that disrupts both the idyllic and the ...

  8. Zodiac

    Moira I Good thriller, fine cast Rated 5/5 Stars • Rated 5 out of 5 stars 09/18/22 Full Review Ronald H Probably David Fincher's best film. The Zodiac story takes place between the late 60's and ...

  9. Review: Zodiac

    Review: Zodiac. The film is backed by a solid character-based narrative foundation, as James Vanderbilt's script never loses focus on his story's human element. by Nick Schager. March 1, 2007. With Zodiac, David Fincher returns to the scene of his first cinematic triumph: the serial killer genre. Unlike his self-consciously stylish ...

  10. Zodiac

    Directed by David Fincher. Crime, Drama, History, Mystery, Thriller. R. 2h 37m. By Manohla Dargis. March 2, 2007. David Fincher's magnificently obsessive new film, "Zodiac," tracks the story ...

  11. Zodiac

    Rotten Tomatoes, home of the Tomatometer, is the most trusted measurement of quality for Movies & TV. The definitive site for Reviews, Trailers, Showtimes, and Tickets

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    Our review: Parents say ( 20 ): Kids say ( 30 ): David Fincher 's excellent movie includes several violent murder scenes (a stabbing is especially grisly). But it's more interested in the consequences of the brutality: crime scenes, investigative procedures, fear in the community. In a mess of intersecting obsessions and deceptions, Zodiac ...

  13. Zodiac (2007)

    evanston_dad 26 March 2007. "Zodiac" may frustrate viewers who come to David Fincher's latest film expecting a traditional serial killer thriller. The film begins with a couple of hair-raising and rather brutal recreations of murders carried out by the mysterious killer who terrorized the San Francisco Bay area in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

  14. Zodiac

    A movie review by James Berardinelli. Zodiac is a police procedural - a sort of souped-up, ultra-long episode of Law & Order. Based on the 1986 "true crime" book by Robert Graysmith, the movie looks back on one of the nation's most sinister unsolved crimes: the Northern California serial killings by the so-called "Zodiac killer."

  15. Zodiac

    Based on the actual case files of one of the most intriguing unsolved crimes in the nation's history, Zodiac is a thriller from David Fincher, director of "Seven" and "Fight Club." As a serial killer terrifies the San Francisco Bay Area and taunts police with his ciphers and letters, investigators in four jurisdictions search for the murderer. The case will become an obsession for four men as ...

  16. What are thoughts on the Zodiac (2007) : r/movies

    One of the most prominent themes in crime cinema is that of a protagonist who is obsessed with unraveling a mystery or destroying/deconstructing a dream like 'primal scene'. Zodiac is one of my favorite examples of the theme of obsession, and possibly the best film since Vertigo dive in to this theme so enthusiastically.

  17. Zodiac

    Movie Review. Counting two books and a battery of interviews among its source materials, Zodiac digs under the skin of the story of a real-life serial killer who terrified the public and perplexed law enforcement in the San Francisco Bay Area beginning in 1969. On Aug. 1 of that year, three local newspapers received letters claiming responsibility for several fatal shootings and another ...

  18. 5 Reasons Why "Zodiac" is a Modern Masterpiece of American Cinema

    The casting of Zodiac, down to its smallest roles, is worth commending - of Fincher's films only The Social Network rivals it for wall-to-wall great performances. Zodiac's trio is a collection of some of the strongest performances from Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo or Robert Downey Jr., including the past ten years.

  19. The Ending Of Zodiac Explained

    David Fincher's " Zodiac " is a gripping mystery-thriller about a real life serial killer who stalked the Bay Area in the 1960s and '70s. It follows detectives, reporters, and one obsessive ...

  20. Zodiac (2007)

    40 reviews · Provided by Metacritic.com. 100. Village Voice. Zodiac exhausts more than one genre. Termite art par excellence, it burrows for the sake of burrowing, as fascinated by its own nooks and crannies as "Inland Empire." 100. Newsweek David Ansen. The movie holds you in its grip from start to finish. 100.

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  23. David Fincher's Zodiac (2007) is packed with content. : r/TrueFilm

    ADMIN MOD. David Fincher's Zodiac (2007) is packed with content. Recently watched Zodiac for the first time and whew, this movie is a relentless ride. The more I watch Fincher, the bigger of a fan I become because the man has amazing talent for cinema. Zodiac is not amongst his most famous works.

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    There are neighbors: super-snooty, swoop-jawed car dealer Perry (Stephen Colbert), his socialite wife, Patsy (Chloe Fineman), and their teen daughter, Poppy (Joey King).

  28. Just watched Zodiac for the first time. What a refreshing film ...

    Just watched Zodiac for the first time. What a refreshing film. : r/movies. Go to movies. r/movies. r/movies. The goal of /r/Movies is to provide an inclusive place for discussions and news about films with major releases. Submissions should be for the purpose of informing or initiating a discussion, not just to entertain readers.

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