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Movie Review: Zodiac

Alternate Title: What's Your Sign?

Story: Raise your hand if you think Hollywood has sucked the life blood (no pun intended) out of the serial killer franchise? Anyone? Anyone? I, for one, have always been interested in true life serial killers and how these predators manage to roam amongst us. How do these sociopath's exist? What makes them tick?

Director David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club) deftly revisits the California Zodiac killings that spawned at least eight previous films (including Dirty Harry) and several books. This film is based on the book by Robert Graysmith with a screenplay by James Vanderbilt.

The plodding, painstaking, pre-DNA, pre-computer investigative process is at the heart of the film. Graysmith, an editorial cartoonist for the SF Chronicle, becomes obsessed with the killings as do several SF police detectives. We watch as the Zodiac killer claims many more victims than simply the people he killed. The film covers the period from 1969 to 1991.

Why do these 40 year old crimes still spark interest? Probably because the killer was never found and brought to justice. The main suspect died before he could be indicted.

If you like old fashioned who done its mixed in with a good cast, interesting camera work and a fine script than this film is for you. Be warned - it is overly lengthy.

Acting: Jake Gyllenhaal is terrific as the eager cartoonist. Mark Ruffalo is also great as the obsessed detective. Robert Downey Jr., has played this drug addled boozer before and does it perfectly. Anthony Edwards, Chloë Sevigny, Brian Cox, Dermot Mulroney and John Carroll Lynch as the suspected Zodiac killer are all fine too.

Predilection: I am interested in serial killer films (but not the gory, stupid ones)

Critters: squirrels

Food: BLT's, burgers, carrots and animal crackers.

Blatant Product Placement: Animal Crackers

Soundtrack: Appropriately haunting

Opening Titles: Simply typewriter font

Theater Audience: Crowded for a Monday afternoon.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: The recreation of several of the killings from eyewitness accounts is very squirmy indeed.

Drift Factor: I started to look at my watch at about the two hour mark.

Predictability Level: Not a factor as I know the story.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No

Nit Picking: No need to the film to run 2 hours and 40 minutes. EDITOR!

Big Screen or Rental: Go for the big screen. There are not many good films out at this time of year.

Length: 40 minutes over the Lobo two hour rule.