Review: Pride And Prejudice And Zombies16th February 2016
Pride And Prejudice is a genteel comedy of manners and an English Literature classic. Pride And Prejudice And Zombies is an insane combination of the original’s Regency charm and the modern obsession with zombie apocalypses. But somehow, it works.
Austen purists will no doubt disagree, and it’s stupid and highly predictable, but what else would you expect from a film called Pride And Prejudice And Zombies?
The comic scenes are the film’s highlights, and Matt Smith’s performance as the bumbling Parson Collins is absolutely hilarious, combining well-meaning idiocy and cringe worthy pomposity to steal nearly every scene he’s in.
The info dump at the beginning is well done too – given that explaining the story’s zombie background would have to come in either the form of awkward ‘As You Know’ dialogue or narration – the choice of a cut out puppet theatre narrated by Mr Bennett (a sadly under-used Charles Dance) to his daughters is a good choice.
Similarly, the film’s inventive and amusing take on Mr Darcy’s initial proposal to Lizzie fits perfectly in with the characters presented in the parody. A lot of the film’s other humour comes from the juxtaposition of the main casts genteel Regency ladies, and their gun cleaning, zombies decapitating all around badassery.
Unfortunately, all the Girl Power ™ action scenes come at the expense of an awful lot of character development, and two of the Bennett sisters aren’t even named on screen.
There are quite a few flaws and plot holes in the film too, timing issues for one, and tonally it seems like director Burr Steers wasn’t quite sure whether he was making a comedy or a straight action flick.
One particularly awkward scene is one seen in the trailer – the five Bennett sisters, stalking towards the zombie hordes in slow motion, is the only such example in the entire film, and its awkwardness stands out even more because of it.
Similarly, given that the large majority of characters are highly trained warrior types, they manage to display an impressive amount of stupidity, almost to the extent of destroying the suspension of disbelief – which is impressive in a Zombie apocalypse parody of a Jane Austen novel.
That said, it’s still an enjoyable spoof. Sam Riley and Lily James manage to pull off their respective roles of Darcy and Lizzie (annoyingly referred to throughout the film as ‘Liz’) with enthusiasm, though they don’t quite manage to fill the shoes of Colin Firth or Jennifer Ehle. Then again, who could compare to Colin Firth’s Darcy?