Movie Review: Zodiac

One of the longest and surprisingly-good movies I’ve seen in some time. A mystery movie that turned into a legal drama that turned into a thriller that turned into a melancholy ending that turned into a documentary. It has everything, including some real-life connection with a case that’s just as scary and much more famous.

(The case remains unsolved, although this very day some new evidence came out, and detectives hope the DNA will turn up the real killer.)

From the director of SE7EN and FIGHT CLUB, two of the best movies I’ve seen, comes… Zodiac.

Good

  • Actors (Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr.)

Mark Ruffalo = The Hulk, Robert Downey Jr. = Iron Man, and Jake Gyllenhaal = not really sure but apparently he’s famous. With this star-studded cast (and apparently superhero-studded), I figured the movie would turn out at least decent. What I got, though, was better. Jake Gyllenhaal gave a performance better than I could have imagined; Robert Downey Jr. was his usual, cocky character-self; and Mark Ruffalo was a thoughtful, expert detective. And together, they work to capture one of the most notorious serial killers, The Zodiac.

  • Storyline

The Zodiac Killer has always been super interesting, and super fascinating to even the casual viewer. The mystery, the codes, and the characters involved… it played out more like fiction than real life. So, of course, the adaption for the big screen turned out great. As far as I can tell, the storyline follows very closely, which makes sense because it’s based on the book by Robert Graysmith (played by Gyllenhaal in the movie). So a movie about making a book based on a book… turned out pretty well.

  • Setting

Not sure when it struck me exactly, but the director put a lot of work into the backgrounds in every scene. Whether it was the lake scene, the downtown scenes, or somewhere else, I was impressed with how real they seemed. Like the main characters were talking, but there was so much happening in the back that caught my attention. Or maybe it was just late and I was Dr. Pepper-ed.

Bad

  • Accuracy?

My main question throughout the movie was “how accurate is this really?” From a quick glance at Wikipedia (yep), it seems pretty legit. There weren’t any critics who hated it and called it inaccurate, which I was surprised at. In fact, some critics said it was too realistic, too legalistic, and didn’t take enough creative liberties to make it exciting. So… seems pretty real. But still a big question.

  • Backstory Missing

There wasn’t very much backstory for the characters, because it kinda just threw you in at the beginning of the murders. I was interested to see how nobody took it seriously except for Graysmith at the beginning, but I’m not really sure why because I didn’t know much about his character. Also, I had no idea he had a family until like 40 minutes into the story.

  • Bye Bye, Iron Man

Robert Downey Jr. just kinda floats around, and his character is super important at times and then doesn’t show up for half an hour. Same with Robert Graysmith, and also Mark Ruffalo’s. That’s one problem with the movie being so realistic: It can’t really decide who the main character is. And that’s okay. It’s interesting. But, still, a bit odd, so it goes in the Bad category.

Both

  • Length

The movie was over two and a half hours long, which made it both too long and too good. Like, it took over 150 minutes… and it used all of them perfectly. It didn’t force the length, and it really made every minute count. Those usually don’t go together…

My Grade

So, at the end of the day, it’s a super long movie, it’s super unique, it has super good actors… and it’s super confusing. And I super like it.

Let’s go with…

8.9

 

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