The Zero Theorem - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Zero Theorem Reviews

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Super Reviewer
May 3, 2015
A solipsistic computer scientist is tasked to prove that humans' work amounts to nothing.
Terry Gilliam's art department is on full display, but his skill as a story-teller isn't. The scene design pops, and Gilliam's frenetic future is both frighteningly possible and a visual feast. He moves the camera deftly but often, which seems contradictory.
The story, however, is weird. Qohen's job looks like a video game with obscure math equations, and it only gains significance in the third act, and even then, the narrative has already been distracted by a ham-handed love plot that defies credibility (why is she apologizing and believing in the relationship when the previous scene involved his over-zealous advances?). It's all very pretty and confusing, which are the best two adjectives for Gilliam's work as a whole.
Overall, some fun art direction doesn't save this weak story.
Super Reviewer
½ November 29, 2014
The production design is impressive, as well as the use of tilt shots and wide angle lenses to distort what we see, but still this is a silly and frustrating film whose interesting ideas get reduced in the same way that science is portrayed as a video game of fitting blocks.
Super Reviewer
½ September 18, 2014
Stylistic yet confusing.
Super Reviewer
September 25, 2014
Theorem," Qohen(Christoph Waltz) is the best data miner in his department, at least according to Joby(David Thewlis), his supervisor. Even then, Qohen would like to spend more time at home but his disability claim is not approved. Still, Qohen is invited to a party at Joby's where he meets Bainsley(Melaine Thierry), a lady of the internet, while making a connection with Management(Matt Damon). Shortly thereafter, Qohen is promoted to work on a pet project of Management's out of his own home.

Since first coming to fame as an animator for Monty Python, Terry Gilliam's strength as a filmmaker has been his visuals. And that is especially true with his latest film, "The Zero Theorem" which has some stunning sights in it. However, over time, a great deal of mishaps have happened to Gilliam on his films which I think has led to a more jaded attitude over time, leading him for once not to side with a dreamer but against him. That might also have something to do with the movie's inconsistency, as it is impossible to make sense of this world's technology in any meaningful way. And to add to that is how weird a lead Christoph Waltz makes(which might also be the point), upstaged as he is whenever Matt Damon puts in an appearance.
Super Reviewer
½ September 3, 2014
Terry Gilliam brings us again a recognizable style in directing in his latest science fiction film written by Pat Rushin, and starring Christoph Waltz, Lucas Hedges, Mélanie Thierry, and David Thewlis. I am his fan and I enjoyed the story which centres on Qohen Leth (outstandingly performerd by Waltz), a reclusive computer genius working on a formula to determine whether life holds any meaning. According to Gilliam, this was the final part of a dystopian satire trilogy or "Orwellian triptych" which started in 1985 with Brazil and continued ten years later with 12 Monkeys.

It is very well developed story which will captivate the fans, but I am not sure for the others who are not familiar with Gilliam's style. The character of Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz), an eccentric programmer who refers to himself in plurals, and who is assigned to "crunch entities" for a company named Mancom, is definitely to be remembered by anyone watching this work of art. Amazing ability of Waltz to express his character's existential angst suffering, while constantly waiting for a mysterious phone call which will bring him happiness or the answers he seeks, should be seen to be believed. Everything in this surreal world which still has recognizable masked elements of our own society, has some sort of wider satire hidden inside. Requesting a psych evaluation, three company doctors determine that Qohen is physically healthy, but request he have therapy from Dr Shrink-Rom (Tilda Swinton), an AI therapist designed to provide mental evaluation. The obsession of the main character to meet with "Management" (Matt Damon) from which he expects solutions, makes Qohen to attend a party held by his supervisor, Joby (David Thewlis). Stumbling into an empty room, Qohen finds Management and requests to work from home, as he would be more productive and would no longer risk missing his call, and Management decides to give him an unique opportunity without missing to note that Qohen is "quite insane."

Produced in only one year, this was one of the shortest time the director ever needed because usually takes him three years to deliver the final product. Done in the Romanian capital Bucharest, the budget was very low because the crew and Romanians worked very hard for less pay (and they're still very skilled). People would be brought for the day and back out again, and that was quite a task for the director and the others surrounding him. It was not easy for them to produce such a film in the current industry climate, and to still achieve visually brilliant results but resourceful Gilliam was very clever and took advantage of his friends who work for scale... plus, working in Romania he managed to get a bigger bang for his buck. Lovely fantasy!
Super Reviewer
January 2, 2015
Terry Gilliam's directorial work has always had a taste for scientific absurdities and fanatically hallucinatory ambiances, from Brazil to 12 Monkeys to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It comes as no surprise that The Zero Theorem exists in the same vein of his surrealist filmography.

Starring Christoph Waltz as a hyper-intelligent and existentially tormented man in a seemingly utopian future, The Zero Theorem tells the tale of an attempt to decipher the meaning of life, or lack thereof, in purely scientific terms. Waltz is magnificent and unnerving in his role, always referring to himself in plurals and over-analyzing everything that is told to him in his daily interaction, whether with other humans or artificially intelligent beings.

As he begins to obsessively work on the theorem of life, or "The Zero Theorem," the lines between reality and cyber-reality begin to blur in a crazed and elusive manner, all while presenting deeply philosophical concepts such as the importance of life, love, and beauty.

The Zero Theorem, however, is never quite interested in answering these questions, but rather idealizing them in an enthrallingly bizarre manner. This is a film with remarkably absorbing ideologies that create a beautiful and ponderous journey through the human experience, making it insightfully unforgettable.
Super Reviewer
August 31, 2014
The response to this film has been mostly tepid. Now maybe I'm missing something, but I felt "The Zero Theorem" falls on the better end of Gilliam's filmography. It benefits from a narrowed focus (we see just enough of the futuristic world to get a sense of how it's suffocating the characters) and a strong performance by Waltz.
Super Reviewer
March 20, 2015
It's the equivalent of biting into a delicious looking cake to find only air.
Francisco G.
Super Reviewer
½ November 9, 2014
A surprisingly intimistic character study, with drama ambitions, The Zero Theorem works more as a tragic tale of a very obsessed but lonely man and at the same time giving us glimpses of our own recent lifestyles and detachment from real interaction.

Still, this is a Gilliam film so expect sometimes the movie to be truly impenetrable, albeit always engaging on a visual level.
Super Reviewer
May 20, 2014
Confusion reigns supreme but you've got to admire Terry Gilliam.
½ November 20, 2014
One of the worst movies I've ever seen. I like weird stuff but nothing in this movie made any sense. It was just horrible. I forced myself to finish it but that just made it worse. TERRIBLE (1 viewing)
November 6, 2015
Maybe I've come to expect too much from Terry Gilliam, this movie had his signature all over it, but it was just underwhelming... hmm... Probably not recommended...
October 12, 2015
I've always been a fan of Terry Gilliam, I've liked everything i've seen of his, so i was def looking forward to this, also cuz i really like waltz, it's got a real disorienting vibe to it, a lot of times you dont know whats fully going on, especially by the end, but it's not about being able to figure everything out, it's more a visual sensory experience, with several memorable scenes, several supporting actors do good jobs-thewlis, thierry and the boy, plus several other big actors in cameos, def recommend for gilliam fans
½ March 26, 2015
Terry Gilliam makes a new attempt at a dystopian future, similar in vein to his earlier (and much better) film "Brazil." I liked "The Zero Theorem," even if it is flawed and doesn't quite reach the same heights as Gilliam had in earlier works with similar themes and styles. I enjoyed the world, I enjoyed Waltz performance, even if no one else really rose to the same level as he did. The humor is what this film is really missing...the offbeat, dark, and strange humor is what made "Brazil" such a treat...this is a visually fun film to visit held up by a strong lead performance, but it lacks a spark to make it as good as Gilliam once was.
February 8, 2015
Once again Terry Gilliam delivers a fun, quirky, visually striking film with existential themes. This original Sci-Fi drama features an intriguing story and an engaging protagonist (a computer genius played by Christoph Waltz). The film's strongest assets are its great cast (Waltz joins David Thewlis, Tilda Swinton, Matt Damon) and its dazzling production design and costumes.

While I always appreciate Terry Gilliam's style, I can't help but wonder if this refreshingly original story deserves a more restrained hand. I love the characters, as well as the interesting angle on the meaning-of-life discussion. This has the potential to be something very very special, but it misses the mark. I think Gilliam's zaniness and manic-ness may have gotten in the way in this case. Something a bit more understated may have assisted this fascinating, if slightly offbeat script.
January 20, 2015
Gilliam adds another chapter to his trilogy of dystopian worlds he started in 'Brazil" continued with '12 Monkeys" now ends with this pic I just loved it as much as the other two.
October 15, 2014
Every filmmaker has their slip-up, even Terry Gilliam, the master class filmmaker behind modern classics Brazil, Time Bandits and The Fisher King. His latest, The Zero Theorem, is visually remarkable, but short on coherence. Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz is Qohen Leth, whose job it is to 'crunch entities' for a tech company called Mancom. His mission is to solve a a theorem that may or may not reveal if life has any real meaning. No matter how deliriously Gilliam directs and no matter how enthusiastic his actors the whole thing never gels into anything that makes sense. The Zero Theorem is filled with terrific ideas (check the scene of Waltz just having a walk in which he's literally tailed by advertisements tailored to his tastes) but you still walk away feeling you've seen warmed over Gilliam rather than something unforgettable.
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