For all its ideas, Zero Theorem is simply an entertaining zero-sum game

Zero Theorem
3 Stars (3 / 5)

 

Terry Gilliam’s first film since the ill-fated, but enjoyable Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Zero Theorem showcases the former Python animator’s uniquely discordant worldview, as well as confirming Christoph Waltz as a supreme resource for any talented director.

The bald-headed, hunched-over, strangely grotesque Qohen is light years away from the smooth Hans Landa or charming Schultz. We first see him naked and fetal, orbiting the mouth of a star-guzzling black hole. Set in a vaguely satirical dystopia – Qohen is followed down the street by cajoling advertisements, including one for the Church of Batman the Redeemer – there are definite parallels with Gilliam’s previous work.

There are the same officious caricatures – substitute a twitchy, beleaguered David Thewlis’ for Michael Palin’s smiley sociopath in Brazil – and similar themes – Qohen’s sensual cyber-space liaisons with Mèlanie Thierry’s Manic Pixie Call Girl pose whether fantasy can overcome existential angst a la The Fisher King – but Zero Theorem is simply over-packed.

Bursting with ideas and talent – Ben Whishaw, Peter Stormare, Sanjeev Bhaskar, and a barely recognizable Tilda Swinton all make appearances – Zero Theorem is just not quite magical enough. Still, with a less scattershot approach and more coherence, latter-years Gilliam might yet reclaim his crown as the king of imaginative, surrealist SF/fantasy.

Author: robertmwallis

Graduate of Royal Holloway and the London Film School. Founder of Of All The Film Sites; formerly Of All The Film Blogs (www.ofallthefilmblogs.blogspot.co.uk). Formerly Film & TV Editor of The Metropolist (www.themetropolist.com) and Official Sidekick at A Place to Hang Your Cape (www.ap2hyc.com). Co-host of the Electric Shadows podcast (http://bit.ly/29Pd7RS) and member of the Online Film Critics Society (http://www.ofcs.org).

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