Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Review

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By Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)

More often than not, a film script is derived from the genius of a writer. Other times, a film’s script is taken from the pages of a book and adapted into a film version. And, sometimes, a classic story is re-written to add something a bit more modern to it – a little spice to a story we all know so well. Such is the case from the latest film from Burr Steers, who took the book written by Seth Grahame-Smith, who took a book written by Jane Austin, and added to it. That original book was Pride & Prejudice, and the film, based on another book, is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

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Set in 19th century England, Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) lives in a countryside estate with her four sisters and parents. Much to the world’s dismay, the planet has been inflicted with zombies and humanity’s struggle is real. Thus many children are sent to China or Japan to learn the martial arts, as was the case with the Bennet sisters and their Shaolin training. The problem is that martial arts aren’t very ladylike and mother Bennet wants to marry the girls off, particularly Jane Bennet (Bella Heathcote) to wealthy Mr. Bingley (Douglas Booth). But with the zombie hordes developing more advanced strategies in their attempt to wipe out humanity, it is up to one Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley) and the Bennet sisters to take up the mantle of protectors of England and face the zombie army head on. Will humanity prevail or will an ever amassing army of undead prevail?

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a movie that just based on the title, never takes itself seriously. Nor should it. Putting a zombie apocalypse into the tale of Pride & Prejudice is a bold endeavor and one laced with so much opportunity. The film does take advantage of many of these opportunities, but so much more is missing. The film is an action-comedy-drama, which is often a hard sell. But with the billing of zombies, audiences should flock to the theaters. And while much of the comedy is worthwhile, particularly that from Mr. Collins (Matt Smith), the action sequences greatly lack in terms of choreography and eye candy. For a group of women trained in sword fighting and kung fu from Shaolin masters in China, they sure look a lot worse than a group of Power Rangers or a Keanu Reeves’ Neo. None of their fight sequences are believable, though it is helped, at times, with quick cuts. And never do we feel anyone is ever in any real danger. I mean, they aren’t going to kill off the main characters in a story like this. Or would they??

What does work, most of the time, is the dramatic aspect – when these actors get to be actors and not act like they know kung fu, or how to fight at all, for that matter. Lily James, in particular, plays Elizabeth with multiple layers to her character, which is saying something for this type of story. She brings out aspects of the classic character while maintaining the world she is now in. She also has a few comedic moments of her own which are spot on. Sam Riley brings to us the socially aloof Mr. Darcy, portraying a man with a focused mission almost incapable a normal life, nor willing to allow himself to have one. That is until Elizabeth comes into the picture, and a new side to Darcy is seen. James and Riley have good chemistry on screen, although James’ character feels exponentially more fully developed than any of the other actors. And Matt Smith is absolutely hilarious in his role, more often than not stealing the scenes from everyone else. That is usually a bad thing for an actor, especially when it comes to theater, but here it works wonderfully.

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is most likely going to perform better than its predecessor (of sorts), Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, but that is mainly due to the zombies. The film lacks heavily on the action side, and when you have zombies and kung fu, you want to see some zombie ass kickin’! The story tends to drag on in certain areas of the film, allowing for sub plots to be developed which add to the bigger picture. And, when dealing with a period piece, those expecting continuous entertainment may find themselves getting bored and waiting for a zombie head to explode or something to be cut in half. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has its moments of fun, but not enough to sustain itself through. Like a zombie body, it’s just decaying in the end.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars


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