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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Movie Review-Zodiac

Jake Gyllenhaal plays newspaper cartoonist Robert Graysmith, who becomes involved in a serial murder mysery, in Zodiac.  Photo courtesy Paramount Pictures
Jake Gyllenhaal plays newspaper cartoonist Robert Graysmith, who becomes involved in a serial murder mysery, in Zodiac. Photo courtesy Paramount Pictures

By Sara Pintilie/reporter

Jake Gyllenhaal plays newspaper cartoonist Robert Graysmith, who becomes involved in a serial murder mysery, in Zodiac.  Photo courtesy Paramount Pictures
Jake Gyllenhaal plays newspaper cartoonist Robert Graysmith, who becomes involved in a serial murder mysery, in Zodiac. Photo courtesy Paramount Pictures

On his second attempt at the perfect serial-killer movie, David Fincher tries a more dramatic outlet of expression in Zodiac.

Though it is missing some of the gruesome genius of Se7en, his first stab at portraying a vicious killer onscreen, the film delves stylishly into thorough character studies of various people indirectly attached to Zodiac.

I give major kudos to whoever came up with the brilliant tagline on the already amazing posters: “There’s more than one way to lose your life to a killer.” It fits the movie so perfectly, more than the trailers do.

Don’t get me wrong. There are still gory moments and a few scares here and there, but the killer Zodiac becomes a powerful shadow that fuels the rest of the characters.

Robert Graysmith (Donnie Darko’s Jake Gyllenhaal) is a cartoonist at the San Francisco Chronicle. His day starts out like every other day until a mysterious envelope arrives in the editorial office. Inside the envelope is a cipher and a letter, describing the people the mysterious writer has killed. This writer later names himself, Zodiac.

As more and more of these letters show up, the paper, and the town start to panic.

The crime reporter of the Chronicle, Paul Avery (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’s Robert Downey Jr.) and the head inspectors of the Zodiac case, Dave Toschi (Collateral’s Mark Ruffalo) and William Armstrong (Top Gun’s Anthony Edwards) become fixated with the killer, chasing leads that go nowhere and suspects they can’t place at the murder scene. 

Graysmith sits idly by as he watches his friend Avery and the inspectors lose years chasing the serial killer. However, at home, he has binders and binders of Zodiac memorabilia ranging from every article Avery has written on the mysterious man to copies of the ciphers.

Almost 20 years later, Graysmith decides to write a book on the killer and starts snooping around the police offices of all the surrounding counties where the murders take place. He soon also becomes consumed by the cryptic messages and missing pieces in the killer’s timeline.

Zodiac is a monster of a movie, to put it simply. The notorious killer Zodiac (obviously), the gripping power of obsession, the immaculate detail to everything scenery-wise and the two-hour-and-40-minute screen time make this film almost scream epic, which is a good thing.

Fincher executes the movie with such eerie flair in subtle ways audience members find themselves consumed by this allusive killer.

This film is visually different from his past movies such as Fight Club and Se7en, but those seem like kid’s stuff after seeing this film. This movie is a great gateway into mature filmmaking for Fincher.

I know many people are turned off by the long running time of the film, but honestly as I watched the movie, I couldn’t find a better, shorter way to end the movie, nor did I see a reason to end it more quickly. Zodiac doesn’t drag for more than a handful of minutes dispersed throughout the movie and gives the audience a certain frustration for the characters.

The main players in this film are spectacular, but Downey steals the show every time he is on the screen as the fast-talking, booze hound of a journalist. He is the vessel of the comic relief in this film and does it fabulously.

I give this movie four-and-a-half stars out of five.

Zodiac is well worth the price of a ticket and the 160-minute runtime.

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