Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

2016-04-01 11:24

What it's about:

The classic tale of the tangled relationships between lovers from different social classes in 19th-Century England is faced with a new challenge—an army of zombies.

What we thought:

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains." Some might look at the title and think – oh dear lord, what will Hollywood come up with next? – but many might not realise that this film is based on a popular book that is part of the Quirk Books series, where modern writers take classic books and dab it with a touch of fantasy. I myself am a huge fan of the series as I was never able to get through any of Jane Austen’s original work before wanting to fall into a coma, and seeing it on the big screen made me squeal with joy. Fans of the book will be delighted, but Austen fans might be horrified at this unholy union.

The Bennet sisters try to navigate 19th century British society while also trying to stay alive during a Zombie plague that has gripped England. As the oldest sister falls in love with a rich bachelor, Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) is constantly at odds with his best friend Mr Darcy (Sam Riley). Meanwhile a charming Mr Wickham arrives on the scene, who has a plan to help stop the Zombie threat, and a tale to tell about Mr Darcy. A lot of killing, dancing and prejudice happen in-between.

The film had gone through many directors before it finally settled on Burr Steers (17 Again, Charlie St Cloud), who rewrote the script to bring back the original Pride and Prejudice elements to the movie, and we can all give him a big thank you. At first I was worried the Zombie apocalypse will take over the story line, which is not the case in the book, but luckily the filmmakers kept to the idea that the main story remains Pride and Prejudice, with Zombies merely changing the setting of the story. Without the dominance of the Jane Austen elements, the movie would have just been a zombie story that happens to be set in 19th century England, but instead we get a true mashing of the genres.

The cast is good enough, with a surprising performance I did not expect from James. I always found her a bit insipid, but she managed to make me believe she can kick zombie ass while maintaining lady-like composure. Riley looks and plays the surly Mr Darcy to a T, and the scene between him and James next to her sick sister’s bed is pure gold. My one annoyance is the casting of Mr Wickham and Mr Bingley. They looked like they should have been swopped, as Jack Huston didn’t really give me that pretty-boy-who-manipulates-anyone-he-meets vibe, and Mr Bingley looked too much like that pretty boy. I think swopping the two actors would have been a better fit, but at least you get a great fight scene between Darcy and Wickham, fulfilling many a fantasy.

Despite how much I enjoyed it, Jane Austen purists and those unfamiliar with Quirk Books will have a harder time connecting with the film, and might even see it as literary blasphemy and B-list Hollywood crap. This unfortunately limits the audience who will appreciate the many Pride and Prejudice jokes and references, and who will enjoy the film for what it is.  This movie doesn’t pretend to be serious, and neither should its audience.

If you are open-minded to a good monster mashup however, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is sure to give you a laugh and a good dose of adrenaline dressed up in petticoats. I only hope the film has some success to warrant an onscreen adaptation of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, which is a fantastic sequel. A fan in possession of one onscreen adaptation is in need of more.

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