Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

Standard

Film review of the adaptation of the novel by Jane Austen, with additional material from Seth Grahame-Smith, following the adventures of the spirited Bennett sisters, beauties of minor society in Regency England who must do battle with an army of the undead, simultaneously traversing the rights of courtship with a group of handsome male suitors.

To like this review, comment on it, or to follow this blog, please scroll to the bottom of the page.

Use the search function on the left of the screen to look for other reviews and movie updates.

Director: Burr Steers. (108 mins).

Horror

3stars Good worth watching

Cast & credits

Producers: Marc Butan, Sean McKittrick, Brian Oliver, Natalie Portman, Annette Savitch, Allison Shearmur, Tyler Thompson.
Writer: Burr Stears.
Camera: Remi Adefarasin.
Music: Fernando Velázquez.
Sets: David Warren.

Lily James, Sam Riley, Bella Heathcote, Ellie Bamber, Millie Brady, Suki Waterhouse, Douglas Booth, Sally Phillips, Charles Dance, Jack Huston, Lena Headey, Matt Smith, Emma Greenwell.

Synopsis

After a zombie apocalypse in the late 18th century, London has been walled off in case of further outbreaks of the undead, a huge moat encircling it and with only one bridge in or out.

In rural Hertfordshire just north of the capital, Mr Bennett (Dance) has trained his five daughters to become zombie hunting warriors, but their mother (Phillips) is only interested in finding them good, and by that she means rich, husbands. Eldest daughter Elizabeth (James), the strongest and most intelligent of the Bennett girls, finds herself courted by the proud and snobbish Mr D’Arcy (Riley), himself a champion zombie killer. The two are instantly attracted to each other but their personalities mean they clash from the start.

ReviewPride and Prejudice Zombies

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie with brains must be in want of more brains.”

It is quite possible, however ridiculous, that Jane Austen was going to include the walking dead in her classic romantic novel Pride and Prejudice but, in one of the most famous instances of writer’s block, got stuck on the story, abandoned it and focused instead on living human characters.

Or, maybe not.

For anyone who has even a passing acquaintance me, they know there are three main types of film that always go to the top of my ‘must see’ list: disaster drama, period drama and zombie horror.

Ergo, it’s no surprise I sauntered to the local Cineworld to catch this little beauty, an adaptation of the eye-catching, if not entirely satisfying, literature mash-up by Seth Grahame-Smith and, erm, Ms Austen.

I have to admit, excited though I was to read Grahame-Smith’s update of the classic tome, I felt it was a let down. A simple copy job of the Austen text with the odd zombie related paragraph pasted in, it was a bit of a chore to read.

It wasn’t going to take much for a film adaptation to go the same way, but thankfully the film as viewed sounds and flows better than the text on the book’s page – the two elements are mixed together more successfully on film and there is a lot less of the ‘classic’ waffle.

In fact, the story has been pruned considerably. The total running time is under two hours but the pace is highly spirited – we zip along at a fair horse’s canter until the old Jane Austen elements of the story become nothing but mere narrative sign-posts along the way.

The script contains enough drollery (“Who would dare to leave a zombie in the middle of the floor?” says a card playing lady after one has had it’s head cleaved in by Mr D’Arcy) to raise a ghoulish smile and it’s refreshing, after all of the endlessly pale, endlessly similar, faithful adaptations of yore to see D’Arcy and Elizabeth finally square up and kick each other about a drawing room rather than fling arch comments, arched eyebrows and delectable sounding (from a clever screenwriter’s point of view only) bons mots.

It’s period drama for the Kick Ass generation featuring the most beautiful of English casts.

Everyone’s favourite English rose of the moment James and 60-a-day-voiced Riley might lead in the performance stakes, but its Heathcote as Jane and especially Booth as Mr Bingham who romp away in the catwalk-looks stakes.

In terms of action, gore, humour and good old zombie-slaying ‘fun’, this film is worth a hundred episodes of dull and repetitive Walking Dead, even if the final result oddly shies away from pushing further with its amusingly oddball take on Austen’s work.

NB: Portman’s name on the producing credits, but without the lady herself making an appearance, is a surprise addition.

See the official trailer on Youtube.

5 thoughts on “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

    • cinesocialuk

      You absolutely agree with me Ken – a daft film, but it manages to leaven the best aspects of the classic novel with the core requirements of a good old zombie gore fest. PS – I haven’t read the Austen novel either, but the BBC TV series with the wonderful Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth is basically the ‘canonical’ adaptation. Also, the Bennett family are not aristocratic but nearly nearly broke – they are middle class but striving to be more and have no title, so not aristocratic in anyway. It takes an English man to understand such things! 😉

      Like

      • Hi Jason, Thanks for the aristocracy clarification. I guess I’ve overheard just not quite enough of “Downton Abbey” while my wife’s watching it to think I comprehend these traditions, so I’m glad to get it straight, which helps me appreciate the Bennets’ situation a bit more. By the way, I did see that BBC version, which was enjoyable enough for someone like me who rarely indulges in these kinds of stories. Ken

        Like

  1. Jason, I don’t know what to tell you about comments on my blog because I have no control over it (completely managed by Google who’ve never replied to any message I’ve sent). I have set up a filter so that I see potential messages before they’re published (I was getting too much spam in the Comments), but I’d still see whatever you’d have written so I don’t know what’s happening (I have that same trouble with Jason King’s Salty Popcorn site from Australia so I just gave up and put comments at LinkedIn). If you like, you could just send comments to me at kenburke409@gmail.com and I’ll put them in for you along with a reply or send them to me at that address with a note to not publish them if you prefer. Ken

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s