'Zero Theorem' Difficult to Pin: Critics Divided Ahead of U.K Release
A mind-bending sci-fi adventure, but which way were the critics minds' bent?
Amongst the post-Oscars films is The Zero Theorem, which stars the double Oscar-winning Christoph Waltz as Qohen Leth, a computer genius living as a recluse in a dystopian, Orwellian sci-fi world in which the shady figure of ‘Management’ calls the shots.
Christoph Waltz shaved his head and eyebrows to star in 'Zero Theorem'
Leth lives alone in an abandoned chapel, working towards his ultimate hacking goal: to find the meaning of life. In other words: to solve the "Zero Theorem", a mathematical formula derived from Big Crunch theory.
Director Terry Gilliam, formerly of Monty Python fame, has created a colourful and maniacal world in which Waltz can take the lead. With a brilliant cast and an original, intriguing plot, the signs looked good for ‘Zero Theorem’. But what do the critics think?
It’s the definition of ‘mixed reviews’. “The future as candy-coloured paranoid nightmare: not quite Gilliam’s best, but still the most satisfying movie he’s made for years,” Total Film’s Phillip Kemp said. Empire’s review was also positive, reading, “It’s the tangle of workings-out not the easy answer that are the proof of a theorem, and that magnificent, sparkling, insightful chaos abounds here.”
Time’s Mary Corliss liked it, too. “The Zero Theorem is a spectacle that demands to be cherished — as long as the society Gilliam portrays is a satire, not a prophesy,” she wrote.
The film did have its detractors, though, like Leslie Felperin, who called it “A sci-fi confection that, at best, momentarily recalls the dystopian whimsy of the director’s best-loved effort, “Brazil,” but ends up dissolving into a muddle of unfunny jokes and half-baked ideas, all served up with that painful, herky-jerky Gilliam rhythm” in her review for Variety.
Then there were those who felt Gilliam missed his mark somewhat, but didn’t hate the film as a whole, like The Guardian’s Xan Brooks. “The film has a ragged charm, a Tiggerish bounce, and a certain sweet melancholy that bubbles up near the end,” he wrote, giving it 3 stars.
Also awarding Zero Theorem 3 stars was our very own Rich Cline, who called it “Lively and imaginative,” in our review. This raucous adventure-drama recaptures the ramshackle futurism of director Terry Gilliam's 1985 masterpiece Brazil, throwing a lonely guy into a series of events that get increasingly surreal,” adds Cline.
If that doesn't tickle your fancy tomorrow, then perhaps Scarlett Johansson in Under The Skin does...
'Zero Theorem' hits cinemas tomorrow, March 14