This infamous sci-fi opus is one of those rare cult films that actually lives up to its hype. Unfortunately for Zardoz, its hype is double-edged -- this film is just as infamous for being muddled and self-indulgent as it is for being daring and brainy. The trouble begins at script level; John Boorman has packed his film with about three or four movies' worth of intriguing ideas, but this abundance of concepts comes at the expense of characterization depth and coherent storytelling. Boorman's direction is surprisingly uneven; many sequences are striking but just as many fall flat due to poor direction of extras and abrupt, indifferent transitions from one scene to the next. Also, like many science fiction films of the 1970s, the vision of futuristic design in Zardoz is so closely linked to the styles of its own era that its look has dated badly. However, Zardoz is not unwatchable despite such flaws. For one thing, all of the lead performances are quite good: Sean Connery gives a committed performance in an unusual role that is light years away from James Bond, and British stage vets like John Alderton and Sara Kestelman give straight-faced, serious performances that make the script's more out-there moments play in a believable fashion. Zardoz further benefits from a genuine sense of unpredictability -- it's virtually impossible to guess what strange event or otherworldly concept will be thrown your way next. It's a shame this sense of daring couldn't have been applied to a more focused, consistent story. To sum up, Zardoz is a brave misfire that might intrigue sci-fi cultists but is likely to confuse and confound most other viewers.
by Donald Guarisco review