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Ben Austwick [Film Festival 05.10.11] movie review scifi thriller

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Year: 2011
Directors: Vladan Nikolic
Writers: Vladan Nikolic
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Ben Austwick
Rating: 2 out of 10

There’s nothing wrong with being pretentious if you’ve got the intellect and ideas to back it up. Why not rewrite the rulebook and sneer at those around you if what you’re doing is better than everyone else? But it really has to be very good, otherwise you’re going to come over a complete idiot.

This confusing and badly-written film is set in the near future, where a population genetically modified into a permanent state of happiness seek out black market drugs just so they can feel something, even if that feeling is pain. Jack is a drug dealer, inhabiting a familiar underground of graffitied streets and sterile, gothy raves, who uncovers a murky conspiracy explained in a series of numbered tapes, discoveries of which introduce each chapter of the film.


The narrative is slight and never seems to move beyond the introduction, made worse by being explained in a po-faced voiceover over bland shots of nothing much at all. As if recognising its own failings, at regular points right up until the final scenes the narrative states “Here’s the story” and “Now the story begins”, causing you to rise from your bored torpor in the hope that something’s going to happen. It never does.

Towards the end, a choice piece of dialogue asks “What is this about?” No doubt the desired effect is one of wonder at Zenith’s intellectual brilliance, not the confused shrug most people will answer with, but I’ll go further: after seeing the dated and quite offensive portrayal of the mentally handicapped in the Nimble character, and a quite breathtaking sequence where Jack turns to the camera and berates the audience, Funny Games style, for being too stupid to keep up, my reaction is one of outright dislike. A boring, badly written film is one thing, but Zenith actually insults its audience. Nadir more like.

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Anonyomous9 (3 years ago) Reply

It seems Ben is really upset about that little scene admonishing people (reviewers?) who claim authority on criticizing films/art without having done anything themselves - but that's not what this film/project is about - you will love it or hate it (I loved it!) - but it is different than almost any feature film out there right now and you will have a strong reaction to it one way or another (even Ben did :)) - not to mention its innovative distribution...

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Anonymous (3 years ago) Reply

Gotta say don't let Ben put anyone off seeing this - personally I really enjoyed it. It was confusing only becuase things weren't spelt out in typical Hollywood style (think Primer). I believe I have it sussed out, I have a few theories (don't worry I won't post any spoilers), but it does make sense.

The characters were engaging, maybe a little over acted at points and the script could have been tighter, but that all adds to the charm. I would have liked to of seen more of the world outside of our characters, maybe more of the 'happy' people.

What it lacked in execution it certainly made up for in ideas.
Good film. More like this please. 7.5/10

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lola.k (2 years ago) Reply

i'm curious about your theories, anon.
i didn't follow any of the online hunt, just watched the film, which I too enjoyed.

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Alan K. (3 years ago) Reply

That the two main characters are "sick" but actually the only really "healthy" ones, and can see the truth in this amazing movie has obviously escaped the guy writing this insultingly dumb review - he would fit well in this brain-dead future (present?)

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Miles (3 years ago) Reply

The reviewer is an idiot. The film is amazing.
Who are these people writing reviews anyways?

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CK (3 years ago) Reply

"Movie bloggers are ill-tempered losers who live with their parents, except when they're pretentious snobs scared to be creative and desperate to tear down other people's creativity."
Charlie Kaufman, screenwriter & director

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(2 years ago) Reply

I'm sorry, but this film was just absolutely awful. My girlfriend and I were insulted by such a loosely written story line with a million twists and turns all leading to nowhere.

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gyrfalcon (2 years ago) Reply

This film is trash... it can join the rest of the junk that a bunch of rich idiotic yuppies have been producing while they play Hollywood.

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Ben Matrose (2 years ago) Reply

Just watched Zenith, the film is genius and if you follow the online world you will see how it links to OWS and reality, but if you're looking for escapist entertainment look somewhere else.

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eoin31 (2 years ago) Reply

just watched it and I agree nothing happens. Can someone explain it to me. Theres a rich illuminatti type who control the world and our main character finds out and they give him a lobotomy or whatever. He only went in search of them because of his dads tapes he found and then he writes down the conspiracy so that someone will carry on after him. Is that it? if so then so what..if not I really didnt get it

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gigstew (2 years ago) Reply

"You're not paranoid if they really are out to get you."

The movie draws a parallel between madness and true conspiracy. It is about media and mass control. The mind is weak and this movie paints a slightly abstract picture of it's many failings. If everyone says you are crazy for believing something, are you? If you seek proof are you a nut-job? "Nothing happens"... I'm sorry but this movie isn't for you. The day and age of storytelling that simplistic is long over. He didn't get lobotomized, the two stories reached their zenith. The movie is about it's self. It is about movie-making, art, and storytelling. It is also about human nature, mans willingness to give up control, believing in false things based on madness or emotion, believing in real things that everyone says are crazy... all that. Come on, this was NOT complex, if you think it was go watch Transformers. The hero wins... awesome... SEEN IT.


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