Zardoz Review

Each individual project and film will be remembered for one reason or another. For Zardoz, it will be remembered both for being a stark step down in quality for director John Boorman, who had just finished up Deliverance a few years prior, and because Sean Connery is clad in a red leather piece that leaves little to the scarred imagination. A fascinating disaster that will surely ruin or delight those that loved Connery being the poster boy of the James Bond franchise. An eponymous floating head engages the audience in its opening moments, swirling the screen like an idle DVD player icon, and it only devolves from there.

The crust of 1970s science fiction, the pre-Star Wars boom, is a fascinating arena that mostly relies on dumb concepts and wild costume designs. Everything feels a little surreal but never amounts to much. The Holy Mountain probably managed that best and it worked more because it meant nothing on the surface. Zardoz must mean something, as its appeal is to those who enjoy the hokey, pulp-like work of science fiction authors of the time. Connery is in good company for those moments, with John Alderton and Charlotte Rampling joining him on a journey of bad taste, poor ideas and strange encounters that see Boorman boast a strong sentiment for special effects and physical prop work, but little for writing or sense.

From a stone head that spews out weaponry to Connery firing a bullet down the barrel of the camera. It’s a shame it wasn’t firing through, it’d put an end to this glum experience of a feature. Despite the Connery charm and some genuinely interesting visuals, Zardoz falls to pieces when trying to piece it together. For that reason, it is better to experience this Boorman piece with the understanding that it is fascinatingly gormless. It spends so much time with a giant head floating around the skies that by the time it gets to the real heart of its story, it has forgotten to give Connery any clothing. Weird thematic moments and scenes that do look interesting are fuelling such a lazy bonfire. For a passer-by, they may be coerced into this by the scenes of statues smashed in slow motion or Connery being carried by a harem of women and a bloke wearing a tuxedo. It isn’t worth the hassle, though.

A wildly poor blend between messy concepts and dull filmmaking. A giant stone structure shaped in the head of a God coming down to land in a nearby field next to people covered in papier-mâché should be far more interesting. Here though, it is banal and works only for those that have a huge nostalgia for either Zardoz or Connery. It is there for when audiences have exasperated all options. For when the Bond films are out of reach, for those that cannot stomach Highlander, and those few that need a break from watching The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Go forth and experience Zardoz, a feature that captures such wild moments and interesting thematics, but does absolutely nothing with them. Point the blame either at the ambition of Boorman or the senseless tact on display. Zardoz may be a God, but he’s a boring one.

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