What I'm Watching: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies




Maybe I should be embarrassed to say that I've been looking forward to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for a while. It seems like they've been trying to get it made forever (originally Natalie Portman was going to star) and the trailers made it look surprisingly good. Well, it wasn't surprisingly good, it was un-surprisingly terrible and if I wasn't a big Jane Austen fan I'd probably say it was one of the worst films I'd ever seen. Thing is, I love Jane Austen and I actually really enjoyed it - although I spent a lot of the time wishing it was just a straight adaptation of P&P, minus the Z.




Based on a parody novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, PP&Z is basically the story of Pride and Prejudice transposed to a Regency England ravaged by the Zombie apocalypse. The Bennet sisters have been trained in martial arts as opposed to feminine arts, and Mr. Darcy's (sorry, Colonel Darcy's) idea of a truly accomplished woman is someone who has mastered both. It sounds fun, doesn't it? And it was, kind of. But  - like the book I imagine - I didn't feel the zombie gimmick was enough to drive a film of this length. Not that it was long, but the joke got old pretty quickly.




What kept the film going, in spite of the premise, was its great cast.  I'm sick of the sight of Lily James (she seems to be in everything at the moment) but she actually made a really good Lizzie. She's got that light-hearted thing that most portrayals of the character skimp on in favour of extra wit. Jane was spot on and I liked Charles Dance as Mr. Bennet. He was more serious than in the book, but that made sense - there were Zombies running riot after all. I liked Darcy, despite his emo hair and the way he sounded like a chain smoker. I got used to the gravelly-ness and his smile was lovely when he used it. But the stand-out here was Matt Smith's Mr. Collins. I knew he would be good and he proved me right. He was probably the best thing about the film, despite the unfortunate amount of chemistry between himself and Elizabeth. When you kind of want her to say yes during the proposal scene, there's something wrong. The only casting that I felt really didn't work was Douglas Booth as Mr. Bingley. He is much, much too beautiful to play that role, although he did try. I'd have cast him as Wickham if anything. The guy who actually played Wickham was kind of old.





Other than the cast, I enjoyed PP&Z for all the references and because it was fun to see how and where the Zombies had been incorporated. Sometime the shoe-horned in zombie stuff worked, like when Jane rode to Netherfield alone to see the Bingleys and was attacked by a zombie on the way (prompting Lizzie to come and look after her, plus protect her from the over-zealous zombie hunter version of Darcy who was worried Jane may be infected). Sometimes it didn't work, like the whole third act. The first half was, as promised, Pride and Prejudice, just with zombies. The second half got too weird (yes, I know it was weird already) and I lost interest a bit. I did love the proposal scene though. They kept the dialogue pretty close to the book, except Darcy and Elizabeth didn't just stand there delivering the well known lines - they laid into each other using their oft-discussed fighting skills. Although it all looked a bit dodgy when Charlotte came in afterwards.




A couple of picky things that bothered me: They kept calling Elizabeth 'Liz'. Why? Also, when Darcy insulted her at the beginning, she went off into the garden and cried (where she bumped into a zombie.) Erm, no. She's not supposed to cry, she's supposed to laugh about it with Charlotte. She's offended, but she doesn't let Darcy know that.  I'd also have liked to have seen Pemberley.

For a change, I didn't focus too much on the costumes in this, although some of the dresses were really pretty. They were standard regency stuff some of the time, sometimes a bit more glamorous and sometimes a bit piratical. And Mr. Darcy wore a leather coat to his wedding, so that was a bit random. But that's this film in a nutshell really.





At the end of the day, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was never going to appeal to everyone. In fact, the market is very niche - Janeites who don't mind a bit of blood and gore and having their beloved book messed with. Personally, I loved hearing the familiar dialogue in the odd setting, and spotting the quotes from other Jane Austen books that had been thrown in (I spotted a mixed up Persuasion line and a Northanger Abbey quote, as well as some P&P lines given to different people.) They also cut away from the worst violence, although there was lots of stamping on heads. I don't know if I can exactly recommend this film, but I was glad I went to see it. It was fun and it made me laugh - although that was mostly at Mr. Darcy's voice. Couldn't someone have given him a cough sweet?





Comments

  1. Sold! I haven't read the book, but I will definitely go see the film now... It sounds absolutely ridiculous!!!! Lexie X

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    1. haha thanks, and it was! But quite fun :)

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  2. Sold! I haven't read the book, but I will definitely go see the film now... It sounds absolutely ridiculous!!!! Lexie X

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  3. I'm also looking forward to see this movie.:D As a P&P fan I feel a morbid curiousity to watch it, not to mention that the cast is great. :D

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    1. It really is a great cast :) It's a mad film though!

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  4. Stumbled over here from Old Fashioned Charm's Period Drama Challenge and I'm glad I did. I've been intrigued by this movie for awhile... despite being a fairly prudish Jane Austen purist. This was mostly due though to the want to see Matt Smith play Mr. Collins. I'm a big Doctor Who fan so the idea of him playing Mr. Collins just humors me. Everyone, you included, are praising his portrayal so I'm now even more interested to see it! We'll see... I might just way until I can catch clips on YouTube.

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    1. Thanks, and he was great! Although maybe a bit too adorable- and he was called 'Parson' Collins in it for some reason, which bothered me. Definitely worth looking out for though :)

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