‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ Offers A Fun Take On Austen (FILM REVIEW)


Brains, beauty, refinement, and martial arts training—the pillars of the perfect lady in 19th Century England. At least that’s what we’re lead to believe in this twist on the Jane Austen classic. While most women are tittering about in search of a wealthy husband, the Bennet girls have one thing on their minds: staying alive. The zombie apocalypse has started, and there’s nothing in the old world that can stop it.

The upside to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (and believe it or not there are several) is the humor that permeates the film. While the trailers and TV spots gave off a big budget, big flop vibe, the film itself managed to hold on to the idea of a period piece that happened to also contain zombies. Sam Riley’s (Maleficent) Mr. Darcy was irritating; partly due to his voice and facial expression choices, and (to be fair) partly due to the priggish persona Austen built into the character in the original story. There’s a point about halfway through the film where his stuffiness becomes tolerable, and the matter is less distracting.

With Zombies constantly invading the vein of pop culture, it was refreshing to note the use of the intelligent monster. Rather than falling absolute victim to their circumstances, the Zombies were aware of what was happening and actively hunting for their next meal. Unfortunately, the PG-13 rating was a severe downfall in the quality of the monster persona. While there were a few key Zombie death scenes, and a nice use of practical effects make-up, PPZ went the way of World War Z in the severe lack of gore that was noticeably missing.

Matt Smith stole the show as Parson Collins, the Bennet girl’s cousin and Elizabeth Bennet’s suitor. His frivolity and complete lack of training in the art of Zombie combat made him the humorous target; the fact that he had lived as long as he had to appear in the movie was quite frankly curious. The highlight of his time on screen came during a ballroom scene where he’s absolutely giddy to be dancing with Lizzy. Even when interrupted by the dreaded Darcy, he continues his excitement, looking to make a new friend and divulge the secret of his constant admiration.

The female empowerment element was alive and well with this one. Austen’s novels tended to harbor stronger females capable of taking care of themselves while also casting their affections on a mostly undeserving man. PPZ kept that idea of pining for the person who knows you the least, while simultaneously creating an army of well-bred Zombie killers. Elizabeth Bennet has always been headstrong and grandiose in her beliefs, a sentiment that definitely carried over thanks in huge part to Lily James (Cinderella).

In addition to the lack of gore, there tended to be disjointed storylines that riddled the film, coming together towards the end in a predictable yet convoluted way. Rather than step around it, there were obvious plot points that stuck out like a sore thumb. At one point the Bennets are facing their fearsome foe in the middle of a ball, and during their sword wheeling they “kill” the Zombies with blows to the body. Zombies can only be killed by severing the head, something even the pope is aware of.

The movie itself was stunning cinematographically. Between the costumes and the ornate looking set pieces it felt like a true romantic period drama. However, throughout much of the film it felt like the art director had decided to use just candle light as their source of light at times. Perhaps the set hadn’t been completed in those scenes? Maybe the actor had a zit? Whatever the case, it was distracting and took away from the authenticity of moment rather than adding to it.

Aside from the lacking Darcy, gore, and light, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was solid. The fact that it didn’t take itself too seriously was felt and appreciated, and moving forward there will be a special place in people’s hearts for Jane Austen’s collaborations. Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters is surely on the horizon, ushering a whole new genre of parodied drama.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is now playing in theaters everywhere.


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