Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Director: Burr Steers
Writer: Burr Steers
Based on: Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel, which is in turn an adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel
Cast: 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
Seen on: 12.6.2016
Early 19th century, England: A strange plague has befallen the land and the dead are rising. In the middle of all this confusion is the Bennett family. Mr Bennett (Charles Dance) has trained his daughters Elizabeth (Lily James), Jane (Bella Heathcote), Lydia (Ellie Bamber), Mary (Millie Brady) and Kitty (Suki Waterhouse) in the deadly arts, but their mother (Sally Phillips) tries everything to get them married. So it is just as well, when two new young men enter their social lives – Mr Bingley (Douglas Booth), amiable and sweet and Mr Darcy (Sam Riley), arrogant and proud. Will the Bennett sisters find their perfect guys and not get eaten by unmentionables?
After my experience with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, I was very much prepared for needing all my sarcasm and irony (and alcohol) to enjoy Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Turns out that many of my fears were unfunded – P&P&Z is often intentionally hilarious, even if it does have some weaknesses.
It’s been years that I read the book (and have since borrowed it to a friend in the UK and may never see it again), but I really enjoyed it back then, although I don’t feel the need to re-read it. In any case that meant that I was looking forward to the film, even if I didn’t expect much from it (mostly I expected it to be very cheesy indeed). That the film entertained me as much as it did, was a pleasant surprise then.
Although they changed much more about the original Austen novel than I remembered the book adaptation doing, I didn’t really mind the changes. If I did, I probably wouldn’t have watched the film in the first place, with it having zombies and all. It does mean, though, that some of the themes are a bit muddled and some plot holes are bigger than is strictly necessary, but then again, that’s not what you watch this film for anyway.
No, you see the film for two reasons. One, to watch Elizabeth Bennet kick zombie ass – and that she does. The zombies look pretty great and I simply loved the historical setting for the zombie apocalypse, although it also meant that the story had decidedly classist undertones that could be examined further. Two, to watch Elizabeth and Darcy fall in love – and Lily James and Sam Riley do a fine job with that as well. They aren’t my favorite incarnations of their characters, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy their performance. (Surprisingly, and even though the film spends very little time with her, it might have my favorite Mary Bennet in Millie Brady. Or maybe that’s my ovaries talking, because dammit she’s pretty.) Even more enjoyable were the performances of Matt Smith and Lena Headey as Parsons Collins and Lady Catherine De Burgh, which was really inspired casting (although I wouldn’t have minded if Lady Catherine had been played by a woman who is actually old).
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies manages to balance action and humor and doesn’t take itself all too seriously while not giving up on trying to make an entertaining film. That is a pretty good recipe for a movie of its kind.