Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Zero Theorem

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! And now for something completely different...

The Zero Theorem – 3 out of 5

Since I first discovered the magic of Monty Python when I was younger, I’ve been an avid fan of all the Pythons and their subsequent works.  Above the others, I’ve always felt that Terry Gilliam had the most unique career because of his controlled madness he splatters onto the silver screen with the film’s he directs.  For the most part, I’m a fan of all his work and was pretty interested to see his new project; The Zero Theorem.

I put this picture here for no other reason than to share Christoph Waltz's ass.

I thought this said "Mancow" for a second and I feared
that a hack shock DJ was going to show up in this
Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz) is not only a guy with a name that makes spell check wonder if I’ve suffered a mild stroke but is an eccentric man that is not-so-patiently waiting for a phone call that will reveal all the answers to him.  The anticipation of this call makes Leth desire to work at home and escape his job but the psych eval he gets from a group of doctors is saying he is completely fine and he should just stay the course with going to work.  However, shockingly, Management (Matt Damon) suddenly grants his request and is sent home to work on and solve a mysterious math formula called the “zero theorem.”  While working tirelessly on the formula, his life is interrupted by Bob (Lucas Hedges), the teenage son of Management, and a sultry siren named Bainsley (Mélanie Thierry).  There presence is a mystery as well as what the “zero theorem” is and so is what the end game is for Management.

Also, what is going on with that hair?

With a great cast giving great performances and terrific cyber-punk’ish visuals from a very talented and creative director, The Zero Theorem already has some interesting aspects working in its favor.  The only thing it really needs is a solid story to hook you…but that’s the problem.

Good to know that giant neon "Eat" signs survive into the future.

While I won’t go as far as to say the story is bad—because it’s not—it just felt like it lacked any real enthusiasm or even motivation to really move beyond an ambiguous state.  I understand the film isn’t intended to be a energetic tale and Qohen’s journey is a tragic one at worst and a bittersweet one at best and that being slightly dodgy with explanations is a trait of Gilliam and his films but the movie feels like one that is just too short on content.  Management’s involvement in the events surrounding Qohen’s research on the “zero theorem” feels unfulfilling and Bainsley and Ben’s place in the story doesn’t feel as feathered out as they need to be—Ben more than Bainsley.

Does that sign say "No Batman?"  A pox on this future!

He's mourning his missing eyebrows.
While the visuals of the film are chaotic, colorful, absurd, and fun all at the same time—and really help create a juxtaposition with what Qohen is going through mentally—the film feels like it is relying too heavily on the visuals and not more on the actual story.  In fact, when the credits hit, the film felt more like a short story that was packed with wild visuals in order to make the film feature length.  The story is asking some deep questions and what Qohen is going through was enough to keep me interested but, ultimately, the film felt like it was holding back all the possible intrigue the story had the potential to possess and seemed to settle on providing wild things for your eyeballs to absorb in order to show what a crazy world that Qohen existed in rather than probe Qohen’s subconscious.

At the very least, the film did give us this!

So, I was a little disappointed with the lack of meat the film’s story had but I will not say that it didn’t work on some level.  Qohen’s little adventure was interesting to watch and that was helped greatly by the tremendous performance from Christoph Waltz.  I’ve never seen the man give a bad performance and this is just another notch on his belt.  He was captivating to watch as the misunderstood (misunderstood even by himself) character.  In fact, the entire cast was very good in The Zero Theorem.

Waltz's 80's rap album will drop when?

Sexy nurse?  That reminds me to get my sexy nurse
costume ready for Halloween.
Whether it be the performances from the three doctors (played by Peter Stormare, Ben Whishaw and Sanjeev Bhaskar) or the computer program shrink (Tilda Swinton) that is assigned to help Qohen or Qohen’s manager played by David Thewlis or Matt Damon as Management or even Lucas Hedges and Mélanie Thierry as Ben and Bainsley, the entire cast felt right at home in the eccentric and technologically odd world that Terry Gilliam and the production had crafted.  When all is said and done, it was the performances from a terrifically put together cast that ended up being the best thing about the movie for me.

It's like WebMD.

I really wanted to enjoy The Zero Theorem more.  As it is, the film isn’t terrible and is watchable and mildly entertaining for those who enjoy films that are slightly off-kilter.  However, the story just didn’t feel as development as it needed to be and it left me feeling like visuals were more important that content.  While decent, the film was nothing more than a single-shot viewing for me.

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