Original Episode: #20 Zodiac (2007) ft. Sarah Duncan (released June 25, 2020)
New Episode: #191 Zodiac (2007) Revisit ft. Adam Hitchcock (released November 29, 2023)
Guest: Adam Hitchcock, The Streaming Circuit podcast
David Fincher, Director
James Vanderbilt, Screenplay
David Shire, Music
Jake Gyllenhaal as Robert Graysmith
Mark Ruffalo as Inspector Dave Toschi
Robert Downey Jr. as Paul Avery
Anthony Edwards as Inspector Bill 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 Sergeant Jack Mulanax
James LeGros as Detective George Bawart
Donal Logue as Captain Ken Narlow
John Carroll Lynch as Arthur Leigh Allen
Dermot Mulroney as Captain Marty Lee
Chloë Sevigny as Melanie Graysmith
John Terry as Charles Thieriot
June Diane Raphael as Carol Toschi
Ciara Moriarty as Darlene Ferrin
Adam Goldberg as Duffy Jennings
Tom Verica as Jim Dunbar
Lee Norris as Mike Mageau
Jimmi Simpson as Older Mike Mageau
Based on Zodiac and Zodiac Unmasked by Robert Graysmith, Zodiac wide released on March 2, 2007.
On a budget ranging from $65-85 million, Zodiac would make roughly $83 million at the global box office for the #65 spot in 2007.
Critics were mostly enthusiastic about the film at the time; Only two 2007 films (No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood) appeared on more critics' top ten lists than Zodiac with the film also placing in the Top 10 for both Sight and Sound and Empire magazines in 2007.
However, due to haggling over the final cut of the film between Paramount and Director David Fincher, the film was released after the normal window for awards season attention and missed out on an Oscar nominations for that year.
In a 2016 critics' poll conducted by the BBC, Zodiac was voted the 12th greatest film of the 21st century.
Zodiac currently holds a 90% rating on RT among critics, a 79 score on Metacritic, and a 4/5 on Letterboxd.
Plot Summary: In "Zodiac," director David Fincher crafts a meticulously layered thriller that unravels the cryptic enigma of the Zodiac Killer, a real-life serial murderer who terrorized the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The film weaves together the lives of three individuals – a tenacious newspaper cartoonist (Jake Gyllenhaal), a relentless detective (Mark Ruffalo), and a brilliant but tormented crime reporter (Robert Downey Jr.) – all united in their pursuit of the elusive Zodiac.
Fincher masterfully captures the haunting atmosphere of the era, immersing the audience in a world of paranoia and uncertainty. The film also expertly navigates the shifting dynamics between obsession, professional duty, and personal sacrifice, as the characters become entangled in the web of the Zodiac's cryptic messages and gruesome crimes.
Gyllenhaal delivers a compelling performance as the cartoonist-turned-amateur sleuth, conveying the psychological toll of an obsession that threatens to consume him; Ruffalo brings a gritty authenticity to his role, reflecting the frustration and determination of law enforcement; and Downey injects a dose of wit and charisma into the mix, embodying the pitfalls of journalistic ambition.
"Zodiac" transcends the conventions of a traditional crime thriller, delving into the psychological toll of an unsolved mystery on those who dedicate their lives to solving it. It's a chilling exploration of the human cost of obsession and the lingering shadows of unresolved mysteries.
Did You Know?:
The Zodiac case was re-opened after the release of the film.
The murder victims' costumes were meticulously recreated from forensic evidence that was lent to the production.
Because he wanted the film to be as accurate as possible, David Fincher decided not to depict any of the alleged Zodiac murders for which there were no surviving victims or witnesses. Thus, the Zodiac's first confirmed attack - the murders on Lake Herman Road - was excluded from the film, since there were no surviving victims to corroborate details. The creators thus decided to open the film with the 4th of July murders, considered to be the Zodiac's second double murders.
Robert Graysmith and Paul Avery were not actually friends. Their relationship is fictionalized for the film.
Trees had to be helicoptered in to the Lake Berryessa location, as the area had changed substantially since 1969, and David Fincher wanted it to resemble the murder site as closely as possible.
The Stanley Rubric:
Original Legacy Score: 6.3
New Legacy Score: 7
Original Impact/Significance Score: 3.5
New Impact/Significance Score: 5.5
Original Novelty Score: 5.8
New Novelty Score: 5.5
Original Classicness Score: 7.7
New Classicness Score: 8.5
Original Rewatchability Score: 5.3
New Rewatchability Score: 5
Original Audience Score: 7.7 (77% RT)
New Audience Score: 8.3 (89% Google, 77% RT)
Original Total Score: 36.3
New Total Score: 39.8