The latest trailer for Terry Gilliam’s upcoming The Zero Theorem is out in the wild, and boy, it’s a doozy. Featuring a very bald Christoph Waltz, the trailer promises plenty of the zany Gilliam-esque style choices that his fans have grown to love over the past thirty year or so, and ends with the kind of philosophical tease that one should expect from the acclaimed director.
Here’s the trailer:
The Zero Theorem tells the story of a computer scientist trying to mathematically determine whether or not life has any meaning. Gilliam has suggested that the film is the third in a trilogy of his trademark dystopian satire, which started with 1985s Brazil and followed by 1995s 12 Monkeys. It was a long wait, but the trailer does indeed imply that it was worth it, at least for fans of his work.
From what we can get from this trailer, Christoph Waltz is in full-on crazy mode, carrying forth a maniacal tradition that started with Jonathan Price and Robert De Niro in Brazil, carried on by Robin Williams in The Fisher King, and later by Brad Pitt in 12 Monkeys. Needless to say, it looks rather appealing. I wonder if he’ll be dancing a waltz anywhere in this film? Yeah yeah, I know, bad joke–and The Muppets beat me to it, anyway.
If this sounds a bit like deja vu, there’s a good reason for that: The Zero Theorem was actually released in 2013, premiering at the 70th Venice International Film Festival, but it won’t be released for American theatrical consumption until September 19, 2014. Impatient fans can also rent The Zero Theorem on iTunes on August 9, 2014–a full month before the domestic theatrical release.
Critical reception for The Zero Theorem has been mixed, with a current Rotten Tomatoes ranking of 54%. This probably isn’t set in stone–Rotten Tomatoes only has 48 reviews at the moment, and only 5 of them are from “top critics”–and the score will probably fluctuate a little once we get closer to the actual release date.
As per any given Terry Gilliam film, critics are pretty much split down the middle. He has always been a very polarizing filmmaker, so this isn’t particularly surprising. For example, Mary Corliss of Time Magazine calls it a “spectacle that demands to be cherished” while Leslie Felperin of Variety attests that the film “ends up dissolving into a muddle of unfunny jokes and half-baked ideas.” You say tomato, I say tomato. Huh. I guess that phrase doesn’t really work in print. You get the point.
Any self-respecting Terry Gilliam fan will recognize this critical reception as typical. You either “get” his films, or you don’t. His work has been especially divisive in recent years: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus fared in similar fashion with movie critics, while Tideland and The Brothers Grimm were universally panned despite having a few admirers. Even Brazil, his most lauded film, had a handful of haters to call its own (including the late, great Roger Ebert).
As for the dual-format release, well, it’s a tough call. Gilliam’s films are always visually spectacular, so seeing The Zero Theorem on a big cinema screen is kind of a no-brainer. That said, a month is an awful long time to wait, and the iTunes rental option is terribly inviting. The film-buff in me says to wait and see it in all of its splendid glory, but patience has never been my strongest trait. So yeah, I’m not going to wait. Check back here in August for a full review.