Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Movie Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a genre in possession of a good following must be in want of yet another movie. Sadly the charm of the 2009 mash-up book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has been forgotten - especially by the people who made this movie.


I'm not sure how many scripts this things went through in it's slow shuffle to the big screen, but they could have used one more (or one less). The acting is fine, and the production value is good. It's not a terrible movie, but what I saw had little to do with Pride & Prejudice or zombies though. That really leaves me unsure who this movie is for. If you love Jane Austen you'll be disappointed. I knew what I was in for after reading the book, but the book was a much better mixture of the Austen and zombie elements. In fact, the book has most of the original work with just some zombies added in here and there into the text. To give an example here's a bit from Pride & Prejudice: "The agitation and tears which the subject occasioned, brought on a headache; and it grew so much worse towards the evening, that, added to her unwillingness to see Mr. Darcy, it determined her not to attend her cousins to Rosings". Here's the same bit from the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: "The agitation which the subject occasioned, brought on a headache; and it grew so much worse towards the evening, that, added to her unwillingness to kill Mr. Darcy in the company of his aunt (lest she interfere), it determined her not to attend her cousins to Rosings". Not a big difference right? If they'd stuck to those sort of changes the movie would have been much better off. There was a lot of great stuff in the book that was sadly missing from the movie. I had really been looking forward to seeing Charlotte Lucas's descent in to the zombie state. One of the funniest parts of the book was Elizabeth Bennett visiting her friend while she grunts and tries to eat her own hand with everyone around them blissfully unaware that she's almost undead. Sadly, all of that is missing. I am all too aware of the need to edit down a book for movie length, but it bothers me to see good things cut only for new shit to be added. Why is something funny cut to put in some zombie cult conspiracy crap that made no sense? Instead of running off with Mr. Wickham Elizabeth's sister Lydia is kidnapped by him to help the zombie cult he's running or something. It's confusing, and unnecessary.

If you love zombies you'll be equally disappointed. Not only are they talking and thinking zombies, but you go so long without seeing them that you forget they're supposed to be there. I guess I could recommend this to Matt Smith fans because he stole the whole thing. I think we spent every seen he was in laughing hysterically. As much as I like Lena Headey and Charles Dance they were given very little to do here. While Charles Dance would have made a great Mr. Bennett playing the character from the source material most of his part was cut. I don't know if it was cut before or after filming, but it seems criminal under use him in this way. The same applies to Lena Headey. Everything she did reminded me of something else she'd done. Even her eye patch wasn't from the book so it must have been a leftover from her role in Dredd. Lily James was a pretty good Elizabeth Bennett, but since I'd only seen her in Downton Abbey before this I don't have much to compare her performance to. I was most disappointed in the choice of Mr. Darcy. In the book he's funny and makes a lot of jokes about balls. The dude playing him in the movie has no humor or charm. He's only saved from being too fey by the raspy  and slightly irritating quality of his voice. Despite what some might think I'm not even trying to compare him to the Mr. Darcy played by Colin Firth in the mid-90's. I really am okay with the idea of someone else playing Mr. Darcy. Matthew MacFadyen was fine in the 2005 movie version of Pride & Prejudice, and I would have been fine seeing someone else in the role. Not this guy though. The point of the book this is loosely based on is that the characters are the same as Austen's characters. They just happen to fight zombies. This guy isn't right for Mr. Darcy in any version.

The fight scenes are well done and slick, but there just aren't enough of them. The costumes were also lovely, but I didn't know they made spandex leggings in early 1800's. Despite the fact that they talk they zombies look good, and it's clear some money went in to this thing. I just wish they'd gone with a script that had been more faithful to the book it's based on. Maybe it's something to do with the fact that it's been in some state of production since 2009. Maybe they thought a zombie audience wouldn't like all that Regency era fanciness. So I guess at the end of the day if you're not really in to zombies, like to watch girls fight with knives, and want to laugh at the antics of Matt Smith you might like this movie. If none of those things are your cup of tea then you might want to go watch Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter again.


-Beth


Beth got her start writing for a site called Movie Criticism for the Retarded (which has been revived as dorkdroppings.com. Check it out sometime), but was pulled out of an early retirement to write for Needless Things. When she isn't writing she plays video games and watches bad horror movies while eagerly awaiting the zombie apocalypse. She may try to save her husband and/or their cats, but luckily hasn't had to make those tough decisions yet.

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