*Spoiler Warning* This movie is based on a real case and if you are not familiar with the real case, you've been warned of possible spoilers below.

What she said:


There’s a killer on the loose, and he’s got the police fooled.  Zodiac follows the true story (with some Hollywood embellishment I’m sure) of the Zodiac Killer, who harassed Northern California in the late 1960s/early 1970s.   The movie focuses on the press and police as they try to nail down a suspect before more people turn up dead.  In particular, it follows Jake Gyllenhaal’s character, Robert Graysmith, who works as a cartoonist for a San Francisco newspaper and becomes somewhat obsessed with the case.  He becomes so committed to tracking down the killer that he sacrifices his life and his family, but his years of work culminate with the book that the movie is based on.

The movie is long, very long, and you may leave it feeling a little unsatisfied.  I won’t give away any spoilers, but if you do some research on the case you’ll quickly realize why I say that.  The actors do a wonderful job giving life to their characters.  In particular, Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey, Jr., all stand out.  The viewer really has to pay attention to the details of the film otherwise it’s easy to become lost in the flurry of names of individuals associated with the case and victims. 

The He and I came up with on own theories about who the Zodiac Killer really was/is, and the film reinforces that line of thinking.  There are a lot of loose ends that are left open, which makes the viewer consider the many possibilities.

Due to length, degree of detail, and the general subject matter, I know that many will find this movie painfully boring.  It has its moments, but overall I found it enjoyable.  That said, I’m one of those people who could watch a marathon of Cold Case Files and Dr. G: Medical Examiner all day long.  If the subject doesn’t interest you, don’t bother.  Otherwise, pencil it in for a Saturday afternoon.

Diagnosis: Thumbs up.

What he said:


Zodiac is a film about a real life serial killer who went by the same name. He was active for parts of the 60s and 70s.

In addition to, oh you know…killing people, he liked to toy with the police and media who worked on his case. He took credit for murders that investigators think were not of his doing. He intentionally had no M.O. , which threw investigators off his trail.  He taunted the police with notes about their inability to catch him. He made phone calls to reporters who said things or made inquiries about him he didn’t are for.  Zodiac appeared to like the taunting and attention as much – if not more – than the actual kill.
After finishing this film, there are two things that jumped out at me.

It is hard to talk about this movie without giving too much away. But I’ll stick to the basics.

The acting is fantastic. Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo and Jake Gyllenhaal are all excellent. I always knew Downey could act, but he’s only reaffirmed that since he’s gotten sober over the last several years. He’s clearly a very talented man. And the latter two have really begun to demand my respect in recent years. Mark Ruffalo has shown quite a bit of range in the last few years and Gyllenhaal has come a long way since Bubbleboy.

It is also a very well written and directed movie. It’s shocking to me that it totally flopped in theaters. Maybe people don’t have the attention span for it? It isn’t exactly fast-paced, but that’s what I liked about it. It was a well-crafted, good looking, realistic story about this killer who commanded a lot of attention during that era. Not every story is laced with blood, guts, or constant explosions. Perhaps that turned people off to it?

I don’t know but it worked for me. I am not completely fascinated by this case (you’ll know why after watching – don’t want to give anything away). If you think you have the patience for it, I definitely recommend it.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was given “the He’s” seal of approval on March 2, 2011.