PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES
The audacious send-up of Jane Austen and the modern zombie phenomenon delivers a delectable bite of camp, comedy and cult classic entertainment
DIRECTOR(S): Burr Steers
WEB SITE: http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/prideandprejudiceandzombies/
With a budding romance in the air, Jane and Mr. Bingley find the couple becoming closer and closer, which prompts Jane to go visit him at his sizable estate … Only to have an accident. Of course, an accident riding across town is bad enough, but there is one particular detail that makes the situation much worse than usual …
London, where they live, is in middle of a zombie outbreak with the dead walking the earth.
Sent to the Far East to train to defend their selves against such a problem, Jane, Elizabeth and the rest of the sisters are fully prepared to slay the undead, as is Darcy. And once zombies begin to pour out of every nook and cranny on their to potentially taking down the fortified walls of London, Elizabeth and Darcy must put aside their differences if they and the rest of mankind is to survive …
SO, IS IT GOOD, BAD OR ABSOLUTELY AWFUL? A film that should never have worked based upon a book that should have never worked when considering the original novel on which it is based, Pride And Prejudice & Zombies (PP&Z for short from here on out) might arguably be the best adaptation of Austen’s work ever. If that’s not true, well, it’s at least the most entertaining one thanks to a mix of well-crafted characters, performances, dialogue and fight sequences that may finally bridge the gap between lovers of classic literature and comic books.
The cast of PP&Z could not have done a better job in infusing the right mix of humor, camp, seriousness and edge in the film as the dialogue and its delivery remains true to the spirit of Austen’s work while delivering the zest and energy of Grahame-Smith’s unique take. The zombies are not used as a crutch; instead, the cast plays things out while maintaining the traditions of the era, the quirks of each particular character – James, Smith and Riley standing out exceptionally well in this task – while at the same time making the story feel fresh. The conflicts of upper and lower society, what constitutes love … And of course, the necessities of what makes for a proper young woman (in this case, casting aside one’s martial arts training, sword and/or pistol to be a wife) are all present and expertly incorporated into the mix.
Whereas Heathcote and James present a great chemistry as sisters with different outlooks on life, Riley and James are downright dynamic in their juxtaposition as diametrically opposed zombie slayers and protectors of their family/friends. Likewise, Smith plays his role much like Elizabeth Banks’ Hunger Games approach to her Effie Trinket character, pompous, prim and proper all the way along that he is so perfectly campy his Doctor Who fans will beg for more screen time. Even Headey is great in her role as a legend akin to a zombie-slaying, all powerful Oz take on the role of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, especially when she is put to test to prove Elizabeth’s worth.
Screenwriter/director Burr Steers, however, is the one that serves to come out as the biggest winner from PP&Z as there is rarely a dull moment in his take on the insane-on-the-surface-but-intriguing-and-compelling-in-practice comedy/romance/drama/zombie movie. His cast performs top notch under his watch, he balances with a near perfect hand the mix of slasher camp and courtesan cinema and the fight sequences deliver true, enthralling action with just the right mix of tension and comedy. Had there been a few more threatening moments of zombie action, the film might just be perfect.
Or at least as perfect as any film with a premise this outrageous could ever hope to be, that is. Anyone thinking otherwise has too much pride and an unjust prejudice against a future cult classic that might arguably be the best film released so far in 2016.