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Pride And Prejudice And Zombies Review

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So, we’ve had a taste of Set Grahame-Smith’s historical/horror mash-up style before with the 2012 adaption of his novel, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. But here we are with the book that started it all, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which, as the title suggests, mixes the class divide commentary and the tangled relationships of Jane Austen’s beloved tome with the brain eating undead, creating a mash-up of classic literature and modern zombie fiction that, unfortunately, worked far better on paper.


The movie transports us to a 19th century England in the grips of a zombie apocalypse that still hasn’t put a damper on the class structure of the time, so while defending yourself against the undead is important, marrying into a much better social standing is still top of most families agenda. Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) scoffs at her mother’s attempts to marry off her and her four sisters to eligible bachelors, proficient as they are in vanquishing scores of the undead without the help of any man (that’s Shaolin training for you). That is until she meets Colonel Darcy (Sam Wilson), the Crown’s foremost zombie slayer, and while their attraction is mutual, misunderstandings and the ever growing threat of zombie attacks keep them apart.

For those familiar with Austen’s novel will know where the story goes from there, as writer/director Burr Steers (Igby Goes Down, Charlie St. Cloud) nails the parody of the original source material perfectly. When the movie works best when it focuses on the first three words in its title, the zombie horde present as only minor nuisances to the straight adaption of Austen’s novel, with the entire cast gamely going along with proceedings. James and Wilson spark off each other nicely as the independent Elisabeth and the dour Darcy, creating for a well matched central pairing, but they are blown out of the water (as are the rest of the cast that includes Lena Heady, Charles Dance, and Jack Huston) by Matt Smith in top form as the delightfully buffoonish Mr. Collins. Those Doctor Who fans in the audience (who definitely make up a cross section of who this movie will appeal to) lamenting his post-The Doctor career, made up of two disappointing turns in Lost River and Terminator: Genisys, can rest easy as he has definitely gotten his groove back.


It’s when the zombies are pushed to the foreground that the movie begins to fall apart. The decision to eschew normal zombie conventions and present the undead as being in charge of most of their faculties, including the ability to talk and reason, is the biggest misstep here, taking a fun and simple idea and making it needlessly complicated. Steers does attempt to construct a vast mythology surrounding the rise of the zombie plague, including the idea of a sinister force guiding it from the shadows, but it feels unbearably half hearted at times, introducing interesting plot beats only to drop them, or completely forget about them in some cases, as the story marches on. This can be somewhat bearable for the most part, but then the third act arrives, a frustrating hodge podge of story beats that becomes a chore to keep track off.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was a fun genre mash-up on the printed page, but wastes it’s grand ideas on the big screen with a somewhat enjoyable curiosity.







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The Movie Bit: Pride And Prejudice And Zombies Review
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