In a recent review for Yakuza Apocalypse I discussed the idea of a film having an irresistible title. Here I am a month later reviewing Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a film with an equally ridiculous title, but one that could be more off-putting to some audiences. The thought of the Jane Austen ‘classic tale of love’ (or story of a gold digger) being re-imagined as a horror / comedy will no doubt have a some people immediately turned off, if not offended, but to others it will sound like the perfect chance for a classic spoof. I am one of those others.
As you might imagine, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies follows the Bennet family in their mission to marry off one of their daughters, so that there will be a male heir to inherit their family estate. Where this film differs to classic tale is not only the introduction of zombies into the story, but the fact that all of the Bennet sisters are trained in the ways of war, and don’t wish to relinquish the life of a warrior to simply become somebody’s wife.
The best thing about this film (and we have the book it’s based on to thank for this), is that it both follows and parodies the story of Pride and Prejudice so well. Near the beginning of the film there’s a brief explanation to get audiences up to speed on the alternate history that’s been created, but after that we more or less get the story scene for scene. While I don’t think it’s essential, having a good knowledge of the original will help you get a lot of jokes and references.
The characters are also nicely interpreted, my personal favourite being Lena Headey as the eye patch wearing war hero Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and Matt Smith’s creepy cousin of the family, Mr. Collins. Lily James is also excellent as Elizabeth Bennet, and she handles being both a convincing period drama love interest and an action hero in the same film.
The only real let down of this film is Sam Riley as Mr Darcy. He’s not particularly poor, but he’s just not well cast as one of the most famous male sex symbols of all time (see: Colin Firth). The film does lose its way slightly in the third act, as the funny idea has to change into a feature-length story, but it never quite reaches the point of being boring.
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