Sunday, March 4, 2007

Zodiac Review

David Fincher's latest crime thriller is a little less action and a lot more conversation, yet it works.

David Fincher is one of those directors who deserves all the praise he gets but hasn't yet reached the top-tier. He's got a definitive style to his filmmaking, has a great sense of visuals, and chooses his work very carefully. There's no contest that he's made some interesting films with Se7en, Fight Club, and the just-above-average Panic Room, but there's something the director from Denver is missing. In my opinion, the one thing Fincher hasn't yet mastered is the art of storytelling.

I had been very excited about Zodiac leading up to its release on Friday (March 2nd). I'm a huge fan of Fincher, the cast appeared stunning (at least on paper), and the serial killer crime thriller seemed like a perfect fit for the stylized director. It was hard to ignore Fincher's signing-on to the project in that, as I mentioned earlier, he chooses his films very carefully. That being said, when he signs on to do a movie it's a little more than a big deal considering the last film he did was 2002's Panic Room.

I was excited and a bit nervous going into the theatre as I was prepared to take on the 160 minute investigation film, but I was also not sure what to expect. Fincher had been on a five year hiatus from feature films and I expected Zodiac to show some rust and wear. After ten minutes of the film it was clear something about Fincher's direction was different. His style was still present, but it didn't have as strong a presence as it has had in the past, almost diminishing into the background. At first I was a bit disappointed, expecting maybe to be in the same universe as Fight Club or Se7en just with different characters, instead I was in a completely different world. Fincher's style hadn't vanished, but it was in the back seat, and I loved it.

For starters, the film doesn't throw privileged shots at the audience like curve balls. There are a few carefully placed throughout the film, but they have been toned down and aren't as distracting as they have been in some of Fincher's other films. Another thing that I noticed with Zodiac compared to some of the director's previous work is that he seems to hang on the characters longer than he has in the past, which helps show parts of them that would have been hidden earlier in his career.

Speaking of characters, the film is rich with them. There's Robert Graysmith, played by Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain, Donnie Darko), who is a cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle. As the Zodiac case begins to unfold Graysmith becomes progressively wrapped up in its facts and begins trying to solve the case on his own. Another protagonist at the Chronicle is Paul Avery, who's played by Robert Downey Jr. (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, A Scanner Darkly). Avery is a high-profile reporter who gets under the skin of the police by sticking his nose in places they don't belong. Mark Ruffalo plays Inspector David Toschi, the main cop working on the Zodiac case. All three of these characters go through major changes in the film and it's really devastating seeing the grueling effects of the case wear off on their lives.

How the Zodiac case is handled in the film is it's high point in my opinion. It's long, it's tiring, and it's tedious as hell. Hundreds of facts, clues, and theories are handed to the audience over the course of 160 minutes and while it's a chore trying to keep track of specifics it fits the confusion and mystery of the case. As the film progresses you want to see someone caught and convicted just for the sake of ending the investigation, not necessarily for justice. Many critics will complain about the long running time and the large among of facts and dialogue but I disagree. They really helped portray the exhaustion that everyone involved with the case would have felt.

Another high point of the film are the performances given by Ruffalo and Downey. Downey plays his usual cards here, acting as the quick-talking, smooth, and intelligent reporter who eventually gets caught up in alcohol and drinking problems (sound familiar?). Ruffalo, in my opinion, does the best job in the film. Nothing he does seems forced or lacking control and he does a great job manipulating his character throughout the movie without forcing too much on the audience. Unfortunately, I thought Jake Gyllenhaal could have been better in Zodiac. He wasn't bad, I just felt that he could have invested much more into the character and taken more time transforming into the role. Watching the film I saw bits of his previous characters pour into his performance and it was distracting. In fact, I'm beginning to think that Gyllenhaal is starting to get type-cast, often choosing the roles of soft-spoken characters who are slightly separated from the rest of society. He does a good job with them, but it's hard to get wrapped up in his performance when you feel like you've seen it all before.

Zodiac is a long movie, and it throws a lot at the audience. It's a ride that is exciting but doesn't move much and relies on dialogue to progress the film. If you are looking for a crime thriller along the lines of Se7en, L.A. Confidential, or The Departed you won't find it with Zodiac but if you want a complex story that doesn't take too many liberties this film will be right up your alley. Zodiac is a masterpiece and a great work of filmmaking, it's great to see Fincher gradually moving breaking through into big leages. I just hope his next film isn't five years down the road.

One Sentence Review: Long, complex crime thriller that's definitely worth a watch.


Subscribe in a reader


Marcus Sonsteby said...

Thanks for the review.

You should have put the one sentence review up top as well as on the bottom. That way, I could have read the short version and, if I was intrigued, read the longer version.

Larry_Chimp_Man said...

Thanks for the comment Marcus. I think that the one sentence review fits as a summary at the end. The one or two sentence lead before the review does a similar job anyways.

Thanks for the input though, I might try that out in the future and see what happens.


Anonymous said...

Hey, while searching for widgets for my blog, I stumbled upon and wow! I found what I wanted. A cool news widget. My blog is now showing latest news with title, description and images. Took just few minutes to add. Awesome!

Anonymous said...

酒店兼職 酒店打工 打工兼差 台北酒店 酒店兼差 酒店經紀 禮服酒店 酒店工作 酒店上班 兼差 酒店應徵 酒店 打工兼職 打工

Anonymous said...

Do You interesting how to [b]Buy Viagra in Canada[/b]? You can find below...
[size=10]>>>[url=][b]Buy Viagra in Canada[/b][/url]<<<[/size]

[b]Bonus Policy[/b]
Order 3 or more products and get free Regular Airmail shipping!
Free Regular Airmail shipping for orders starting with $200.00!

Free insurance (guaranteed reshipment if delivery failed) for orders starting with $300.00!

Generic Viagra (sildenafil citrate; brand names include: Aphrodil / Edegra / Erasmo / Penegra / Revatio / Supra / Zwagra) is an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction regardless of the cause or duration of the problem or the age of the patient.
Sildenafil Citrate is the active ingredient used to treat erectile dysfunction (impotence) in men. It can help men who have erectile dysfunction get and sustain an erection when they are sexually excited.
Generic Viagra is manufactured in accordance with World Health Organization standards and guidelines (WHO-GMP). Also you can find on our sites.
Generic Viagra is made with thorough reverse engineering for the sildenafil citrate molecule - a totally different process of making sildenafil and its reaction. That is why it takes effect in 15 minutes compared to other drugs which take 30-40 minutes to take effect.
Even in the most sexually liberated and self-satisfied of nations, many people still yearn to burn more, to feel ready for bedding no matter what the clock says and to desire their partner of 23 years as much as they did when their love was brand new.
The market is saturated with books on how to revive a flagging libido or spice up monotonous sex, and sex therapists say “lack of desire” is one of the most common complaints they hear from patients, particularly women.

Anonymous said...


咪摩兔 said...