Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

prideandprejudiceandzombies_2016_poster
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)
  • Time: 107 min
  • Genre: Action | Horror | Romance
  • Director: Burr Steers
  • Cast: Lily James, Bella Heathcote, Lena Headey

Storyline:

Five sisters in 19th century England must deal with the idea of marrying wealthy businessmen, as well as protecting themselves from a growing population of savage zombies.

3 reviews

  • When you think about a horror film featuring a horde of brain-eating zombies, the last thing you would expect to see is an adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel, Pride and Prejudice.

    These days, supernatural found- footage films are dominating the box office while films that feature mythological creatures such as zombies, vampires, etc., are at an all time low. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies tries to stand out from these mainstream horror films by placing its backdrop in an alternative history.

    The film stars Lily James, Matt Smith, Sam Riley, Douglas Booth and Lena Headey.

    The setting takes place in 19th century England and it’s based off a parody novel written by Seth Grahame-Smith.

    Although it’s artful in direction, utilizing an alternative universe with a Jane Austin backdrop, it fails to convey any true connections through its writing. The characters are abundant and there’s not enough screen time with each of them to formulate any special bond with them. Yes, the film is supposed to be about killing tons zombies without any regrets, but if a zombie attacked one of the main characters, I wouldn’t be at the edge of my seat afraid to see them die. The film itself tries to incorporate way too many elements and fails to achieve any success in doing so.

    The first grievance is that it incorporates two love stories instead of focusing on one. The writers don’t provide enough character development to truly resonate with these characters. The actors however performed terrifically, each successful at placing themselves into the emotions and thoughts of their characters. Matt Smith brings humor to the story, which heavily benefits the film because his character is hilarious and brings some light into a very dark film. The only moments I found myself laughing were scenes that he was featured in.

    One of the more fascinating parts of this film was the way they brought intelligence into play. In once scene, a carriage has derailed and we can hear the voice of a woman yelling for help, seemingly stuck inside the carriage. It isn’t until we get up close to the carriage that a zombie emerges from the carriage in an attempt to trick the vulnerable civilian. I felt this aspect of this film was what made the film stand out and I would have liked to see more instances of this trickery/zombie intelligence but it never came.

    Burr Steers’ directing started off great but dwindled. From the moment the film begins, he emphasized unique zombie kills with his first-person camera direction. When the character cuts off the head of a zombie, we’re placed into a first-person perspective, witnessing the horror. It’s as if the audience are the ones whose getting their heads ripped off. This impressive direction didn’t last throughout the film however, which became an utter disappointment. A lot of the shots could and should have been filmed similar to this artistic direction.

    The film incorporate the headless horsemen, the rise of the apocalypse, entangled relationships, a possibly cure for the infection, and so on. You can easily see why the film failed to successfully achieve all these concepts. There just isn’t enough screen time to flush out these concepts collectively. The film needed a narrower focus but wanted to incorporate too many things at once.

    If you’re looking for a fun film to watch with your friends to pass the time, then by all means go ahead and see this film. If you’re looking for a memorable zombie film that resonates with you, then this might not be the film for you. Going into this film, I had no idea what to expect from it. All I knew was that a bunch of girls would be killing zombies independently without a heroic man to ‘save them’. However, this zombie action-horror became tarnished and transformed into a weak half-hearted romantic piece.

  • I have grown so tired of zombies that I refused to go to a movie that contained significant numbers of them. Zombies make no sense in this or any other world including Jane Austin’s. My wife, however, loves Jane Austin books and, as a result, I have been forced to sit through several different film version of this one story. What was one more? Even with this background I think I would have enjoyed this movie more if I had known the story better.
    The story comes from the novel of the same name by Seth Grahame-Smith which Burr Steers turned into the screenplay. The script lacks details both from the original story and in explanation of the zombies. The audience is expected to accept certain things such as the need for barricaded homes but then people go out in carriages or on horseback. I just had to assume that people who could not fortify where they lived were dead meat which made for plentiful zombies. There’s also the old question, how do you kill a zombie since they’re already dead? This left a very narrow story that you had to wear blinders to watch.
    As the director Steers comes off a little better. He leans towards closer shots, leaving the background blurry but that’s not distracting. His quick cuts during fight scenes make the pace seem fast even when the fight isn’t. Finally, he didn’t press the actors for a style since the whole concept of a period was wrecked when the zombies were added. Some of the props were a little too much as well with swords that could small cut trees in half and flint lock type pistols that had musket balls that exploded and blew zombie heads into a mist. Too much was stretched too far.
    The actors do a very nice job. Steers has them focusing on the emotional aspects of the original story as if the zombies were a mere incidental part of life. Lily James plays Elizabeth Bennet quite nicely. Her Elizabeth isn’t going to do anything she doesn’t want to. Sam Riley’s Mr. Darcy has just the right edge of not giving an inch to anyone as he falls more and more in love with Elizabeth. Bella Heathcote, Ellie Bamber, Millie Brady, and Suki Waterhouse play Elizabeth’s sisters and, even though there is a story line for at least one of them, they are hard to tell apart.
    Douglas Booth plays Mr. Bingly but I was never quite certain what he wanted. The best of the lot, Matt Smith, plays Parson Collins with humor but a seeming obviousness to the zombies.
    I give this movie 2 brains out of 4. Whether it’s the source material or the screenplay this movie looks like it should have been so much better but it just wasn’t.

  • With a title like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, you pretty much know what you’re getting into. It’s Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice…with zombies. Surely Emma the Vampire Slayer is the next mash-up on the way? How about War and Peace and the Hunger Games? Or Wuthering Heights and the Avenging Ninjas? Oh, the possibilities are woefully endless. (Hollywood, please don’t greenlight any of the aforementioned mash-ups. Just…don’t.)

    One can’t deny the cleverness of Seth Grahame-Smith’s concept, but the cleverness that made his particularly strange brew so profitable is seen but fleetingly in writer-director Burr Steers’ film adaptation. Where Grahame-Smith managed to mesh Austen’s pointed social comedy with an impending zombie apocalypse, Steers’ blend falls decidedly flat. The film would have been dead on arrival were it not intermittently reanimated by the fragile and formidable Lily James as Elizabeth Bennett and a broadly comic supporting turn by Matt Smith as Mr. Collins.

    There’s a glimmer of potential as the Bennett sisters are introduced polishing their weaponry over talk of their marriage prospects. Shaolin-trained, the sisters are ever at the ready to unsheath the knives hidden beneath their gowns and slay any undead that lurches their way. Zombies may be a threat, but they’re far easier minefield to tread than courtship and marriage, the story seems to suggest. In this light, Elizabeth’s role as warrior lends another dimension to her intelligence and strength of character – a man would truly have to be her match for her to lay down her sword and settle into marriage. Spinsterhood would be more of a solace than the security of a marriage devoid of love.

    The man to challenge her is Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley), here repurposed as a colonel intent on unmasking the zombies amongst the gentry with the help of carrion flies, who have the knack for sniffing out dead flesh. Riley takes the dourness a bit too far – it’s a bit hard to fathom why Elizabeth would shed her sword (or anything else) for this depressing dullard, yet such are the skills of James that she enchants you into believing that there is life in this stillborn romance.

    Riley is not the only one who falters. Douglas Booth is given barely anything to work with as Mr. Bingley; he’s attractive, to be sure, but not talented enough to overcome the half-dimensionality of his role with the sheer force of any existing charisma. Jack Huston as the manipulative Mr. Wickham fares marginally better. In reality, the women are the true rulers of this world – they’re the movers and shakers, the slayers and makers – and the men are merely bland and useless pawns to be shunted about. Though women are given a more nakedly influential power here, the only female character with any depth is Elizabeth Bennett. Part of this is in the writing, but most of it is in James’ portrayal – it makes one wish the producers had abandoned this idea and gone for a straight adaptation of Austen’s novel.

    Ultimately, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies lacks the instinct to embrace its own ridiculousness. Steers is no help – he fails to excel in the zombie genre (the gore is unremarkable), can barely stage an action scene, and lacks the finesse to fashion a comedy of manners or craft a credible love story.

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