After seven years of making short segments and documentaries, filmmaker Wim …
Rather than the political surveillance looked at in Brazil, corporate surveillance is the primary focus, though the film’s weak digs at both that and the impersonal nature of our online modern age lack any of the bite of the earlier film. Exploration of the latter idea certainly isn’t helped by the writing of Bainsley, a character lacking in any agency of her own. Thierry is victim to an uncomfortable amount of fetishistic objectification, present even outside of the few scenes in which it contextually makes a little sense. Kim Griest’s well-rounded, independent heroine is just one of the ways in which Brazil still has punch today as a key science fiction work; The Zero Theorem, an effort that never excels, is a light shove at best.
In lesser hands, the overtly meta nature of 22 Jump Street could easily have become insufferably smug. Directing duo Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, though, have been proving themselves to be kings of manic, self-aware comedy, and their more consistently strong follow-up to 2012’s 21 Jump Street might be the best comedy sequel since Joe Dante’s Gremlins 2: The New Batch.
Though writer Pat Rushin scripted and conceived the story of The Zero Theorem, one can be forgiven for assuming Terry Gilliam came up with the narrative himself, being that it comes across as the work of someone who either saw every film Gilliam’s ever made or just happened to direct them. Indeed, The Zero Theorem sees Gilliam very much in his storytelling and thematic comfort zones, though sadly to diminishing returns. It openly scrounges scraps from earlier efforts, especially Brazil, but has little idea how to develop its ever so slightly different ideas beyond thin sketches.
In an episode of Community, Britta (played by Gillian Jacobs) once said that an analogy is “a thought with another thought’s hat on.” It may be laboured, clumsy, and teetering on the gobbledygook, but what she said was not altogether incorrect. In fact, that’s pretty much the reason why the scene was funny. Jacob Vaughan’s Bad Milo, in which Jacobs co-stars, deals with a metaphor that, in its execution, feels very much the same way: laboured and ridiculous, but not altogether unfunny.