The Zero Theorem - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Zero Theorem Reviews

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March 11, 2017
Terry Gilliam back to his best
January 22, 2017
The Zero Therom is Gilliam's first film in quite a stretch, since the perplexing Imaginarium of Dr Parnasus and after being distracted in getting Don Quiote off the ground for the umpteenth time, and its seems a little like this is it? It almost plays out like a loose set of writing doodles debating man vs machine and ones own purpose without actually going on any kind of a journey or revelation, amongst left over sets from the Brothers Grim and Baron Manchussen from years past and relying on actors wanting to work with an eccentric talent to get buts through the door ranging from Matt Damon in a pointless cameo that could have gone to anyone, Tilda Swinton as the software AI and David Thewlis as a competitor at work. I will give him that the seldom times they do leave his sanctuary at the church that acts as Christoph Waltz's home look intriguing but when you want to spend more time checking that out and opposed to spending it with the characters inside the sanctuary (assuming the classic budget constraints) You know you are going to be in trouble. If anything, you get the marks for a slightly albeit brief exterior design and nothing much else to hang it on. Would say disappointing but meh.
½ January 7, 2017
The first thing I thought when the credits started rolling: what the heck did I just watch? After thinking about it a bit, The Zero Theorem is unquestionably intriguing, but falls flat on too many levels to overlook. I wish they had developed the rationale behind the theorem further instead of focusing on Qohen bonding with his two counterparts
½ January 2, 2017
Pretty typical of Terry Gilliam, the story is too similar to a lot of previous films. Sometimes the weirdness of his films make the whole thing worthwhile, sometimes it fails, this falls into the latter category.
½ December 27, 2016
This one kinda grew on me. Director Terry Gilliam is a hit or miss for me a lot of times. He makes a lot of over the top movies that are just trippy. I'm a huge fan of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), but a lot of his other movies just don't hit home with me. For every Fisher King (1991 and which is excellent) we get a few odd balls like The Zero Theorem, but that's not saying I wasn't entertained. Dubbed an "Orwellian Triptych" the third film in his dystopic future films starting with Brazil (1985), continuing with Twelve Monkeys (1995) and culminating with The Zero Theorem. Little quick note I wasn't a huge fan of Brazil or Twelve Monkeys yeah i know sue me. This film follows a computer genius named Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz) who after missing a phone call he believes would tell him the purpose of his life begins to work from home. He is assigned The Zero Theorem which is an impossible task to discover the meaning of live by Management (Matt Damon). After working from home for a year he begins to go a bit crazy. Management sends him over a few people to help him out. The sultry Bainsley (Melanie Thierry) and Management's teenage son Bob (Lucas Hedges) who helps Qohen realize truly what he wants. It's an interesting film. Shot with a very Terry Gilliam flavor. It won't be for everyone right off the bat. It's strange and probably needs repeat viewings to really bring it all in. I liked the whole setting of being in a society where social media and electronics controls us. Qohen wants a phone call because he believes it'll help him find out his purpose and he doesn't want to be lonely anymore, yet he requests to work alone. When he does find love finally and realizes what desire is (not being another machine in society) he rejects it at first thinking it isn't the right thing to do. This is a film you can break down quite a bit with what it's real meaning can be. It has a quite opposite ending to the film compared to Brazil. and I would say as someone who didn't quite like those other two films this one worked better for me. It isn't perfect, but overall I enjoyed this one for what it represents.
November 24, 2016
I remember watching the trailer for The Zero Theorem, I don't really know about what it's about, and after watching the film, I was like, "What did I just watch?" Christoph Waltz is really good, and so are the other actors. I was notably interested in this, but it was because of the visuals which were the best part of the film. The plot wasn't really that inspiring, and the script needed a bit more work. The chemistry between Qohen and Bainsley is nice, but wasn't really interesting enough for me to care. There were some parts that were interesting, and the characters are good. There are some funny moments, but I wanted it to be funnier. With the ending making no sense, really got my sister thinking that The Last Theorem is stupid, which she's not wrong, and the film was just mediocre they really should've been better.
½ August 26, 2016
Fantastic, but not for everyone. Recomended for fans of Brazil and 12 Monkeys.
August 16, 2016
Again, the same with Tusk, I think it was a tough pill to swallow for the masses merely due to its zany subject matter. Like Kev Smith, I appreciated the bold risk of the film. It is weird. It shocks you from the dullards of predictable Hollywood blockbusters. 5000 thumbs way up!
½ July 23, 2016
People complain they don't understand the characters... I found them too stock. A hooker with a heart of gold, the whiz kid full of life and dying young, the cynic hero, the manager that wants to control all but take no responsibility. It's a trope filled movie but I liked it anyway. Terry Gilliam is always an emotional roller coaster ride.
July 16, 2016
One of the deepest and abiguously unambiguous movie.
July 10, 2016
Since the release of the polarizing but cult classic "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas", Terry Gilliam has struggled in making films as beloved or memorable as he used to, plus he has been the victim of numerous production problems: Cancelled films (most notably "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote"), been replaced in the directing chair ("Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone") or even the dead of lead actors (Heath Ledger in "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus"). But still he gave audiences the also polarizing "The Zero Theorem". So in which spectrum does Gilliamīs eleventh directorial work falls into?
Qohen Leth is a hermit computer genius who lives in a futuristic, almost Orwellian society, and is looking for a reason to live, but when he manages to get a meeting with his boss, he offers him an opportunity that may provide him with a reason.
The pairing of one of the most creative directors working to date and one of the most fun to watch actors working right now is the main reason I wanted to watch this film, plus I was really curious to see why was this film is so hated, and after watching it I don't completely get it. "The Zero Theorem" counts with a solid performance by the charismatic Christoph Waltz, Gilliamīs directing is as irreverent as ever, Gilliamīs trademark visual style is tamed by the concept of the film itself but still he manages to deliver some gorgeous visuals within this limitations, the story can only be described as a mixture of Aronofskyīs debut "Pi" with Gilliamīs masterpiece "Brazil" (I don't get why people claim this is a difficult film to follow, is extremely straightforward), the character evolution of Waltz is really interesting to witness, and the small amount of comedy are actually hilarious (Tilda Swinton is hilarious in her small cameo). But still, this film suffers from major problems: It has serious pacing issues as at time it tries to be a psychological thriller but then it goes to the Gilliam quirky style, the themes are executed poorly, some characters are useless as they literally disappear from the film, and overall the cliché but still interesting philosophical questions presented at the beginning are completely dropped, which as I mentioned in my "Ex Machina" review is extremely frustrating as they are meaningless in this narrative.
"The Zero Theorem" is a surprisingly tamed Terry Gilliam film that has some interesting ideas but overall is quite forgettable. It is by no means Gilliamīs worst film (I doubt he will ever make a film as bad as "Brothers Grimm") but quite possibly his most forgettable work to date (right next to the already mentioned "Brothers Grimm" and "Jabberwocky").
June 29, 2016
Terry Gilliam's best work in this cyberpunk story for the search of the meaning of life peppered with oddball Gilliam-isms is brilliant, high-brow intellectual stuff.
½ April 16, 2016
Not my fave TG flick.
April 16, 2016
What a load of rubbish! This movie makes absolutely no sense. With Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz as the lead, one would expect at least something watchable. I don't know who thought it was a good idea to make this movie happen or cast recognizable faces in it but he or she were wrong beyond reason.
½ March 24, 2016
5th element with lack of action
March 19, 2016
Offbeat, weird, dystopian. Just what you expect from Terry Gilliam.
March 11, 2016
Brain-Blisteringly-Beautifuly-Baffeling Parable............if you don't get it the first time.....
Super Reviewer
February 21, 2016
As most of Gilliams work confusing plus it ended abruptly, yet weirdly wonderful, easy to watch, super colourful and the time did fly by.
½ February 5, 2016
OK, first of all it's Terry Gilliam: Brazil, Not the Messiah, The Crimson Permanent Assurance, 12 Monkey's, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, etc. So that alone was good enough for me as an in. Right off the bat, the visual aesthetic should be familiar. Gilliam's writing, directing, art work precedes him. But unfortunately the film does not stand on its own merits.

Initially it is intriguing but the pay-off is weak. It's Douglas Adam's question about what is the meaning of life and everything? That's a long row to hoe, and it appears that such an absurd, unanswerable question needs to be handled with some humour (the answer being, of course, 42) or else the pay-off is weak.

The question lingers as the overarching theme of the movie, but it is really the relationship between Qohen and Bainsley that is the most revealing. Both are dysfunctional and at a loss for happiness, but it is only in this coming together of losses, if you will, where mutual meaning is found. Kind of matter / anti-matter joining to create a coherent whole.

But while this relationship is afoot, as Qohen looks for meaning in trying to discover the zero theorem, or so he supposes, his faith lies in a call that he feels will inform him of his purpose or meaning of life, at least for him. Interesting that it is Bainsley who will give him the greatest resolution and calm, as he attempts to avoid her at all cost.

Eventually he meets Management (Matt Damon); Qohen discovers that the theorem he is attempting to solve has nothing to do with discovering a purposeful meaning of life but rather quite the opposite. Management is actually trying to prove that there is no meaning to life and uses Qohen (the antithesis) and his unrelenting need to find meaning against him. When Qohen discovers this, he becomes so upset he smashes the Neural Net which collapses, revealing a black hole inside; the same black hole Qohen often dreamed about. It is in this ending, the collapse of the universe, the end of all meaning, where Qohen finds meaning, for as the credits role he hears the voice of Bainsley, his love, or that which brings meaning to his life. While all this great seeking and questioning is going on to find meaning or to reveal meaninglessness, it is in the simple and slight where greatest meaning is found: a connection between two small, simple sentient beings.

A good film with an interesting twist, but the question is just how many would find any great meaning in viewing the film. An ironic question indeed.
January 31, 2016
Of course "Zero Theorem" will not be to everyone's liking and those in need of a traditional and linear narrative are best advised to skip this one. This is no surprise for anyone familiar with Terry Gilliam, but unlike some of his later cinematic adventures, this one might actually be his best film since "12 Monkeys".

Terry Gilliam was always a brilliant stylist and even his worst films had there fair share of breathtaking imagery(and some nice ideas, here and there) and one can notice that in "Zero Theorem" as well in scenes of sheer beauty and in a "Dark Side of Fellini" way of imagining our future.

What makes "Zero Theorem" stand apart is that, underneath the seeming chaos, there is a very well thought out film, a film unafraid to show its "sensitive side" in scenes of great emotional power.

On the other hand, the wave of complaints about this flick being to muddled, experimental, incomprehensible is unfounded. Actually, while some things about it are, indeed, eerie, the film is not difficult to get, nor is its logic too "exotic". That it is an unusual film, yes, that's true. But that's not to say is one without interest or point, for that matter.

Actually, from it's very opening act, "Zero Theorem" is very firm and clear on the path it will follow and the ideas it will exhibit. Yes, those ideas as not new, but this is irrelevant: if you are looking for a new message, stop watching movies, cause no film will give you that. No film should. What this film does - and does very well, by the way - is to create the perfect world to mirror these ideas.

I said before that there is a method to this seeming chaos, because the film progresses in a certain way. It starts from being noisy, frantic, surreal, but, little by little, it becomes clearer and more compelling. It mirrors its protagonist, also.

I am giving max. rating and I admit it might be a bit too much, but I think cinema needs more films like this and more directors bold enough to follow their own vision, instead of listening to billboard charts, pop prizes and other things alike.

My two cents: 5/5.
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