“I don’t know which I admire more; your skill as a warrior or your resolve as a woman.”
— Lady Catherine de Bourgh
Title: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Directed by Burr Steers
Written by Burr Steers from the novel by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
Lily James as Elizabeth Bennet
Sam Riley as Mr. Darcy
Bella Heathcote as Jane Bennet
Ellie Bamber as Lydia Bennet
Millie Brady as Mary Bennet
Suki Waterhouse as Kitty Bennet
Douglas Booth as Mr. Bingley
Jack Huston as George Wickham
Sally Phillips as Mrs. Bennet
Charles Dance as Mr. Bennet
Lena Headey as Lady Catherine de Bourgh
Matt Smith as Parson Collins
Emma Greenwell as Caroline Bingley
Eva Bell as Louisa
Aisling Loftus as Charlotte
Tom Lorcan as Lt. Denny
Love, social misunderstanding, and female empowerment bloom against the backdrop of zombie-plagued Regency England.
The film features some hilarious blends of familiar Janeite scenes with martial arts. However, the non-combative Matt Smith is the real stand-out. Parson Collins, a comic highlight of any Pride and Prejudice, gets portrayed here by the former Doctor Who. Despite being physically wrong for the role, he puts a genuinely funny spin on his performance.
I had difficulty reading the source novel, because its one-joke premise wore thin too quickly. The film actually alters the plot in an attempt to give it something more. As a result, we have, maybe, a two-or-three-joke premise, interrupted by attempts where the movie takes itself somewhat seriously. All of this can, and often, does work, but at two hours I found its inherent limitations tried my patience.
Originality: 1/6 The movie adds its own twists to its sources, but, in the end, it’s a film adaptation of a novel that rewrites another novel that has been much-adapted to film. It’s also zombies in 2016, combined with the time-honored tradition of applying famous literary quotations to new and unusual contexts.
It also, in places, recalls more than a little a time-warped episode of the old Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Acting: 5/6 The movie features an accomplished and generally polished cast.
Production: 6/6 PPZ boasts, perhaps, the highest production values of any zombie apocalypse movie.
Story: 4/6 The story can be engaging, and its central departure from the original plot—other than the inclusion of the walking dead, I mean—is actually interesting. It’s just not interesting enough for the long haul. The film ends exactly as you’d expect, and that includes the mid-credits epilogue.
Emotional Response: 4/6 We have a violently fun movie (assuming you enjoy violence as fun), but one which wears thin. The relationships at the core of Jane Austen’s original, predictably, receive short shrift.
Overall: 4/6 Although the actors can manage the drama just fine, this implausible mash-up works best when it’s just being silly and violent.
In total, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies receives 30/42