Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Starring Lily James, Sam Riley, Douglas Booth, Charles Dance, Lena Headey, Jack Huston, Matt Smith,
This film marginally succeeds simply because it’s not completely awful. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies comes from author Seth Grahame-Smith’s idea of taking Jane Austin’s beloved novel Pride & Prejudice and inserting a zombie apocalypse in-between our favorite moments with Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. Originally Natalie Portman was attached to the project, and still serves as a producer. When the more prestigious names like director David O. Russell, left the project, it fell into lesser hands and that’s it biggest problem. It so quickly rushes through the major points of the book and yet the horror element of the film is quite tame for a zombie movie.
Col. Darcy (Riley) has made it his mission to rid the protected citizens of Derbyshire of any zombie infection. For years now England has fought to keep the infected out of the city. Mr. Bennet (Dance) ensured his five daughters undergo great training in China to protect themselves against a zombie attack. When the aristocratic and wealthy Darcy accompanies his best friend, equally wealthy Mr. Bingley (Booth), to the country, the two men become the eye of affection especially from the Bennet household. Eldest Bennett daughter, Jane (Bella Heathcote) falls for Bingley, while Lizzie (James) begins a love/hate relationship with Darcy as their pride and an occasional zombie attack come between them.
It’s really the acting that reduces the potential of this film.
For those familiar with the original Pride & Prejudice story, book or Oscar nominated 2007 film, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies can be an entertaining, although ridiculous time at the movies. However, if you are unfamiliar with the story, and unable to decipher when the plot is following the original and when it diverts, this is likely to be boring and uneventful if you just want to see a zombie flick. When Joe Wright condensed the beloved novel into a cinematic masterpiece starring Keria Knightly, he did so by infusing the best parts of the book together and cutting out all the rest. Writer/director Burr Steers (Charlie St. Cloud, 17 Again) attempts to plow through so much of the original work, speeches and settings that everything feels rushed. For instance in the story, Lizzie and Jane have a conversation: “Anyone who has seen you together cannot deny you’re love for him,” yet the film speeds so quickly, even the viewer hasn’t gotten a glimpse of that love or interaction they reference.
It’s really the acting that reduces the potential of this film. While James appeared in Disney’s Cinderella more as an iconic figure than an actress, here we are introduced to her inability as a performer. To be fair, it’s a difficult line to walk in two genres at the same time. One of the films more brilliant moments was altering the role of Lady Catherine de Bourgh (in Wright’s version she is played by Judi Dench), here she is an iconic warrior played by none other than Cersei Lannister (Aka Lena Headey). There are inspiring and clever notions in the fusion of this story, it’s just that most of them happen in Smith’s novel, not on screen. Steers can’t seem to find the right balance between the love story and the zombies, reducing both to a mediocre level.
The idea works, it’s the implementation of it that goes awry.