Pride and Prejudice and Zombies online movie review - A movie, based on a novel... based on a novel.
There are good things about this film. There are also some things very, very wrong with it.
As one who is a History nerd, and a fan of the original novel AND someone who also enjoys the concept of a empire waist gown that can be swept aside to access a bladed weapon strapped to a Regency lady's stocking thigh, I had certain expectations (Some of them not very high).
I was rather surprised at how well they handled some things. The Dialogue (at least on Darcy's part) wasn't as terribly dumbed down as I had feared. I was particularly fond of Darcy's admiration of Elizabeth's form and figure while fighting (The comment about her arms being muscular, but no so much as to be unfeminine" particularly tickled me) and the translation of Elizabeth and Darcy's verbal sparring into actual physical sparring in Darcy's proposal scene truly impressed me. The lines were well placed and well executed. In all (apart from some casting objections) the first half of the movie was pretty darn solid.
Lily James was just not a good choice for Elizabeth Bennett. She's not a very good actress to be honest. Again - I KNOW this is not a straight up adaptation of Pride And Prejudice, but as these characters ARE based on those of that novel they must, by necessity, follow the behaviors and action of those characters, or what is the point in naming the film "Pride and Prejudice" when Jane Austen fans everywhere object to its mere existence, and the average Zombie movie attendee probably wouldn't know who Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy are anyway.
Elizabeth is spunky, and uncommonly tomboyish for her time to be sure, but she is also best known for her SENSE. She's got some very strong opinions about Darcy when she meets him yes, but P&P&Z Lizzie is so headstrong as to seem silly and mediocre. What makes her even stranger to the casual viewer is that she is SO vocal about her opinions on Darcy from the offset, that when Darcy insults her looks, she behaves like a teenage girl who's biggest crush called her fat at the prom, it seems a bit stupid.
What is more, Jane clearly shows more Zombie Slaying mettle than Elizabeth. When faced with the undead remains of a mother and baby, she, while horrified, doesn't let sentimentality cloud her sense and dispatches them (I assume - the screen goes black and cuts away as the zombies charge - as she survives the encounter, her only wound being a scorch mark on her hand where her musket backfired)
Sam Riley is passable as Darcy. He does carry off the character as an experienced Zombie hunter; His one great defect in the role is the fact that Darcy, while an expert at Undead Slaying, is also a Gentleman of distinction and pride. Sam Riley simply isn't genteel enough for the role.
Mrs. Bennett wasn't sensational enough, and an over-the-top version of this character with many a loud, EXASPERATED exclamation of "OH, MR BENNETT!" was very much called for, and was not delivered. My only complaint on the count Charles Dance as the dry Mr. Bennett, is that there wasn't enough of him.
And while I love the idea of Lady Catherine DeBurgh being an eye-patch bearing warrior woman played by Lena Headey, she would have been much more entertaining if they had included some of Lady Catherin's more ridiculous lines which would have given Lena some irresistible opportunities to be her Headey-est and chew the scenery in high dudgeon. What is worse, we don't even get to see Lady Catherin and Lzzie fully duke it out, which Lady Catherin DOES directly challenge Elizabeth to combat in the novel (The zombie novel, that is, not Miss Austen's original work.
Matt Smith as the odious Mr. Collins! He might be one of the best, most delightfully cringe-worthy incarnations of the oily parson I've ever seen.
As with all things, it's where the story strayed from the source material that it began to feel shaky. The latter half of this movie is not only a disgrace to Jane Austen's novel, but even of the direct source material, which, rather than taking the characters of Pride and Prejudice and dropping them in a Zombie Apocalypse (I mean that Literally - A (Suposedly)Biblical Apocalypse, except with zombies, simply sets the plot of the original novel in its entirety against the backdrop of a Zombie infested Regency England.
The second half is when it really starts to fall apart. There are some aspects which were wholly unnecessary and go absolutely nowhere. One of the things that really annoys me about adaptations like this is that important characters from the second half of the story, such as Darcy's beloved sister Georgiana, are mentioned due to the use of canon dialogue early on, but are promptly forgotten. After Darcy's initial mention of her as being one of the few truly accomplished ladies of his acquaintance, other than a cameo in a flashback, she's never mentioned again, let alone seen.
The name of Darcy's estate in Derbyshire, Pemberly, is never even mentioned.
Personal issues with the film:
In this Zombie Apocalypse re-imagining of Regency England, young people are sent by their families to study the martial arts of the Orient. Those of wealthy aristocratic families generally receive their training in Japan, while slightly lower class families receive training in China. There seems to be an implication that Mr. Bennett is wiser than other families in sending the girls to train in China as opposed to the flashier Japanese masters with their fancy katanas. I object to this view, as the bladed slicing weapons used in Japanese martial arts are probably more efficient for killing zombies than the straight bladed weapons, staffs and hand-to-hand combat practiced by the Shaolin.