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Fans of director Terry Gilliam's trademark visual aesthetic will find everything they've bargained for, but for the unconverted, The Zero Theorem may prove too muddled to enjoy.
All Critics (122)
| Top Critics (28)
| Fresh (62)
| Rotten (60)
Say this for Terry Gilliam: Even when he repeats himself, he's unique.
Gives one the sense that the ex-Monty Python-ite thinks he's at a filmmaker version of the Last Chance Saloon, manufacturing and recycling as fast as he can.
It's bursting with Gilliam's trademark manic energy, but the focus and execution are so soft that that energy ends up derailing the film instead of invigorating it.
The culture's caught up to Gilliam. Everybody's doing Orwell now. But Gilliam's appropriation feels both aptly skeptical and unfashionably utopian.
There is something so generous and so full-hearted in this profusion that to complain seems churlish, but "The Zero Theorem" has a bothersome ratio of misses to hits.
This "Theorem" is all sizzle, zero steak.
With the resolute importance of Brazil's world eclipsing his vision, Gilliam has again failed to escape from his own allegorical fantasies. Don't call it a comeback.
This film struggles tonally to find equilibrium between broad satire and intimate revelation.
Clever and playful and dark, it skips from notion to visual gag and back again so quickly that not all of its thoughts have a chance to gel.
It's a satire that's not sharp enough, an allegory that's not powerful enough, and it's all wrapped up in a garish dystopian bundle with nothing to say that hasn't been said before.
Christoph Waltz gives an immersive performance.
It's a compelling vision, but the movie never quite lives up to its own designs.
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.
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.
The Zero Theorem has no objective to entertain with a coherent story. It's a vague rumination of a concept. The lack of specifics makes the disastrous beginning extremely hard to sit through. My consistent thought during the first half: What in the name of Egon Pearson is this movie about?! There are creative features of the society that do captivate. Robin Williams briefly appears on a billboard that promotes "The Church of Batman the Redeemer". Party-goers dance to music on their own cell phones instead of what's playing at the party. Terry Gilliam's world building is impressive. But look past those amusing gags and we're left with an inkling of an idea unable to support a compelling narrative. It recalls his brilliant Brazil in style but not in substance. The Zero Theorem is a thoroughly uninvolving exercise in abstract thought, and it's not even a very interesting one at that.
Qohen Leth: Waiting for The Call. What other reason is there to pick up the phone?
Director Terry Gilliam falls into the category of filmmakers that make movies that fit entirely into their own genres. Quentin Tarantino makes Tarantino movies rather than straight comedies or action movies. Tim Burton used to not really make horror or fantasy films, but instead he made Tim Burton films (hopefully he gets back to that soon). I could go on, but Terry Gilliam does not really make science fiction films, he makes Terry Gilliam films, and that is what The Zero Theorem amounts to. While the film feels like it has too much indebted to his own past work, specifically his best film (arguably), Brazil, The Zero Theorem is still unlike any sort of traditional take on dystopian sci-fi worlds, because Gilliam operates on his very own level, even while battling studios to preserve his vision. As a result, while visually arresting and well-acted, it is not as conceptually interesting as it is a fun polish on some old ideas.
read the whole review of thecodeiszeek.com
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