With his latest film The Zero Theorem, Terry Gilliam returns to the ramshackle future he first visited in his now-classic 1985 film Brazil and then again in 1995's Twelve Monkeys.

Ben Whishaw Zero TheoremBen Whishaw in 'The Zero Theorem'

Known for his flights of fancy in movies like Life of Brian, Time Bandits and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Gilliam's rampant imagination is well-suited to stories set in the chaos of a future dystopia where society seems to be crushing the independent spirit of the central character.

More: read our review of The Zero Theorem.

In Brazil, Jonathan Pryce plays a bureaucrat who tries to correct a simple administrative error but ends up on the most-wanted list by the totalitarian government. Twelve Monkeys stars Bruce Willis as a convict who volunteers to help discover the origin of a deadly virus and stumbles into a technological nightmare.

Christoph Waltz Zero TheoremChristoph Waltz [L], Peter Stormare [Centre] and Ben Whishaw [R] in 'The Zero Theorem'

And now The Zero Theorem follows Christoph Waltz as a technical genius given the task of proving life's meaninglessness in a world controlled by computers and corporations.

Despite their clattering, low-fi technology, these films feel more realistic than the gleaming glassy future Hollywood usually shows us. And in the best sci-fi tradition, Gilliam is actually exploring the state of humanity right now, as individualism and creativity are threatened by government paranoia, new health threats, corporate anonymity and technology run amok. So even if Gilliam is now returning to make his long-troubled project The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, we can be sure he'll head back into the future soon enough.

Watch The Zero Theorem trailer and featurette: