2:00 pm EST, January 30, 2016

‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ resurrects Austen’s classic tale

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies trades turns about the room for bashing undead skulls as it reimagines the world of Jane Austen’s classic novel.

You can laugh at Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. In fact, it is hard not to walk out of the film without trying to process what you just witnessed during the last 90 or so minutes. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies took a bite of Austen’s world and dropped it into the zombie apocalypse as the threat reached the height of disaster.

Note: This is not a spoiler free review! Proceed with caution.

Aside from a few clever changes in wording and a bit of soft earth for bodies to spring from, Seth Graham-Smith’s original adaptation played it close to the chest. For fans of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, the novel was humorous but nothing remarkable. The film, however, gave new life to Graham-Smith’s novel, leaving the fate of Hertfordshire in the capable hands of the Bennett sisters and their new acquaintances Mr. Bingley and Colonel Darcy.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies rewards Jane Austen superfans without cheapening the winks to the source material. Rather, PPZ introduces a different world for their favorite characters to navigate marriage, societal prejudices, and the art of concealing weapons to kill their former neighbors. The combination, though choppy at moments, has plenty to offer both readers and fans of the the zombie genre. Above all, Lily James is a welcome addition to the collection of Elizabeth Bennetts of the world, and is certainly the current front runner for the most badass.

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Strengths

A Mr. Collins to remember

The most pleasant surprise of the entire production was Matt Smith’s portrayal of Mr. Collins. From the second he appears on screen to his final word, Smith strikes the perfect balance between genuine ignorance and the absurd nature of Austen’s undesirable parson.

The great Bennett warriors

When you walk away from a Pride and Prejudice adaptation where Mary Bennett is fierce female warrior, you know you are witnessing a revolution. Even with the undead roaming the lands, the Bennett sisters are still fighting for carriage privileges, defending their lesser training access (China as opposed to Japan), and looking for a way to marry above their station. But while they talk about boys and indecent proposals, they are not braiding each other’s hair so much as practicing their hand to hand combat in the basement.

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collins ppzDarcy ppzbingley ppz

Confrontations with a punch

Darcy visiting Elizabeth in the cottage, Lady Catherine’s arrival at the Bennett home, and the Bennett sisters discussing their admiration/disgust of men. All these scenes are ripe with Austen’s brilliant prose, her words as sharp as, well, firepokers. What good is a battle of wits if someone doesn’t walk away with more than just an emotional scar?

Stand out line: “You are as unfeeling as the undead.”

Weaknesses

Confessions of an Austen nerd

Steers’ adaptation took the groundwork of Graham-Smith’s novel and produced a much more dramatic, enjoyable telling of the Austen classic. But it was too shy to dive right in. The inclusion of many Pride and Prejudice Easter eggs were enjoyable for a fan of Austen’s original work, but at times they felt clunky and overplayed.

The world felt just out of reach

The trailer pays proper attention to all the elements of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies that made the movie stand out. However, it takes a bit too long to diverge onto the path not well-worn by Austen’s words. New introductions take shape too close to the end, leaving the mythology of the four horsemen of the apocalypse and Wickham’s intriguing involvement with the undead. They were all clever additions, but were left undeveloped and did not serve the story in a meaningful way.

Verdict: See it. It’s the perfect flick for a fun night out that can easily be followed up with a six-hour binge of the Colin Firth BBC adaptation.

Stray observations:

? This is the first production of Pride and Prejudice where Bingley appeared far more desirable than Darcy.

? Why, oh why, was Darcy introduced as a zombie slayer before Elizabeth? Come on, Hollywood. Give us a female driven movie from the start.

? Pulling a quote from Northanger Abbey did not go unnoticed, Steers. Granted, it was appropriate.

? No ninjas? No problem.

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