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Terry Gilliam's The Zero Theorem Brightens Up Corporate Dystopia With First Theatrical Trailer

While there have been a couple of apparently unofficial trailers floating around in the last few months, Voltage Pictures has put out a final first theatrical trailer for Terry Gilliam’s upcoming sci-fi fantasy The Zero Theorem, or as some people might want to refer to it, Brazil 2: Philosophical Boogaloo. Though parallels with his fantastic 1985 satire Brazil are obvious, it says something about the filmmaker that he is possibly the only director in existence who could make a "Terry Gilliam film." And this trailer is jam-packed with the visionary absurdities for which fans put up with the long treacherous years in between his projects.

Beyond the bright colors and Christoph Waltz’s sickly bald head, the most noticeable thing about this trailer is that it’s stuck in some kind of a shitty-definition vortex. I’m not going to gripe about a raunchy R-rated comedy in 360p, but it’s impossible to just accept such a distinctly visual trailer with pixel blotches all over the place. Impossible, I say!

The Zero Theorem, Gilliam’s latest last trip into dystopian sci-fi, follows Waltz as Qohen Leth, a reclusive computer programmer who is tasked by a mysterious figure called Management (Matt Damon) with figuring out the titular formula, which may or may not provide proof that life has true meaning. Of course, he’s living in a future where everything is run by corporations and everything in the world is merely an advertisement for something else. I absolutely love that in such a high-tech society, there are still arrowed signs that say "Eats."

The surly and sexually uncomfortable Qohen initially doesn’t appear to want life to be anything more than the sum of its parts, but it looks like the project turns him into a believer. Part of that may be because of Mélanie Thierry’s femme fatale Bainsley, who enters Qohen’s life ass first and takes no time in winning him over - even somehow sharing a mini-vacation on a beach with him within his own mind. I don’t trust her.

All in all, this looks like it's a truly a signature Gilliam film. There are tons of wide paranoia-inducing angles, huge industrial-looking machines and a vivid color palette. There is a darkness that spreads well beyond the shadows, but also a feeling of hope that can’t be crushed by corporate fists. Plus, it has a truly solid supporting cast, including David Thewlis, Lucas Hedges, Ben Whishaw and an almost unrecognizable Tilda Swinton. Also keep an eye out for the billboard commercial cameos, as seen in the trailer with Rupert Friend and his hideous sunglasses.

Unfortunately, there still isn’t a release date set for The Zero Theorem, which is pretty ridiculous in the scheme of things. While I can understand if studios are hesitant to get behind his oft-plagued Don Quixote adaptation, this film and all of its amazing visuals reportedly cost less than $15 million, which is further proof of how godawfully wasteful Hollywood is. Let’s hope our future is brighter than Qohen’s and The Zero Theorem will hit theaters soon.

zero theorem poster

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.