Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is not a great movie, even by zombie standards, but the comedic moments work and the cast is nicely put together highlighted by Lily James and Sam Riley in the lead roles, though Lena Headey and Charles Dance aren’t used as effectively.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Genre(s): Horror, Romance, Drama, Comedy
Sony | PG13 – 107 min. – $34.99 | May 31, 2016
Date Published: 05/19/2016 | Author: The Movieman
THE MOVIE – 3.5/5
The zombie craze has been in full effect for the past several years, not to mention its origins dating back decades courtesy of the likes of George Romero, with shows like “The Walking Dead”, its spin-off “Fear the Walking Dead”, “The Strain” and numerous low budget movies, comic books (for which TWD is based upon), video games and novels. It’s no surprise that every studio is nabbing zombie-related material available, the latest being Pride + Prejudice + Zombies based upon the novel of the same name written by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith.
By no means am I the biggest fan of the zombie culture (I’m the take it or leave it kind) yet having not read the novel nor an avid viewer of “The Walking Dead” (beyond viewing the home video releases), I found this interesting adaptation to be quite entertaining where the comedic elements actually hit the mark. No, it’s not perfect and would’ve benefited from taking the material beyond the safe PG-13, but it is a film I thoroughly enjoyed.
Note: This portion of the review contains SPOILERS. Readers beware.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is set in 19th century England where Colonel Darcy’s (SAM RILEY) task is to hunt down zombies. These aren’t your classic zombies however, mindless and unable to speak but are able to hide amongst the living. Darcy enters a the home of a wealthy family and using flies that can detect the presence of the undead, is able to root one out, dispatching it with relative ease. Following this, we get an opening credit sequence outlining the history of zombies in England, how it began and the authority’s attempts to get it under control and eradicate them, though the battle looks bleak.
Meanwhile, we are introduced to the Bennet family, Patriarch Chaman (CHARLES DANCE), his wife (SALLY PHILLIPS) and their five daughters: Elizabeth (LILY JAMES), Jane (BELLA HEATHCOTE), Lydia (ELLIE BAMBER), Mary (MILLIE BRADY) and Kitty (SUKI WATERHOUSE). Each of the young ladies are skilled warriors trained to kill zombies while also keeping a certain demure about them, needed since, as custom of this era, are in search of husbands.
When the Bennet girls attend a gala where the rich and handsome Mr. Bingley (DOUGLAS BOOTH) in the hopes one of them will win his heart, for which, upon his arrival, with best friend Mr. Darcy, finds love at first sight with Jane while Darcy and Elizabeth lock eyes, but it’s short lived after she overhears him make a slight comment about her. However, Darcy becomes infatuated with Elizabeth upon seeing her in action after a zombie attack, which she and her sisters utilize their training to dispatch them.
The remainder of the film finds the pair at odds when Darcy attempts to get in the way of Bingley and Jane’s nuptials thanks to overhearing a disparaging comment by Mrs. Bennet. In the meantime, we also meet the charming and charismatic Mr. Wickham (JACK HUSTON), a soldier who has a past with Darcy. Along the way we also are introduced to Lady Catherine de Bourgh (LENA HEADEY), a notorious zombie slayer and Parson Collins (MATT SMITH) who has eyes on Elizabeth for marriage.
In development since at least 2009, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was initially going to star Natalie Portman (who still serves as a producer) and directed by David O. Russell before Burr Steers (Charlie St. Cloud) took over, adapting, and Lily James replaced Portman. The movie is hardly perfect and while the zombie craze is still in full effect, it might’ve made, pardon the expression, more of a killing at the box office where the film couldn’t even make back its reasonable $28M budget taking in a mere $16.37M worldwide, if released more at its height with the novel.
Box office aside, I found PPZ to be pretty damn entertaining. Could it have used more zombies? Sure, but as it is, the movie features a fine cast from Lily James who embodies Elizabeth so well even giving off a little Keira Knightley at times, Sam Riley’s portrayal as Mr. Darcy is a far darker figure compared with other versions while Jack Huston makes for an ample villain. With the home video market, I certainly hope it finds a wider audience, though I suspect it’s destined to air on SyFy and the like.
On the downside, while it is rated PG-13, it’s a rather safe movie with mild violence (at best) that I wonder if the filmmakers should’ve gone zombies to the wall. Instead for fans of zombie violence, they were vastly underwhelmed. The other scenes, which mirror the Jane Austen classic, is the aspects I admired from the chemistry between Lily James and Sam Riley while the comedy parts made me chuckle at the right spots (such as when Elizabeth catches Darcy’s zombie-seeking flies).
In the end, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a fun little horror-comedy that isn’t perfect nor something I’d whole-heartedly recommend, though it is worth a rental, yet there’s just enough there to at least make it as passable entertainment. Nothing more, nothing less.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.25/5
This release comes with a glossy, title-embossed slip cover. Inside is a code for the Digital HD copy.
The Badass Bennet Sisters (3:59; HD) is a featurette on the heroines of the film and provides some behind-the-scenes footage and comments from the filmmakers.
Courtship, Class and Carnage: Meet the Cast (6:54; HD) – Here we are introduced to each of the cast members (James, Riley, Smith, Booth, Dance, etc) as they discuss their characters
From Austen to Zombies: Adapting a Classic (6:00; HD) focuses specifically on taking the novel and turning it into a feature film.
Creating the Unmentionables (3:31; HD) examines the make-up work for the zombies.
Mr. Collins Line-O-Rama (2:39; HD) is just actor Matt Smith spit-balling a variety of lines.
Deleted Scenes (9:55; HD) – There are nine scenes either cut down or outright removed. There’s nothing of note that would’ve added to the story but more character moments.
Gag Reel (1:38; HD) is filled with the cast getting a case of the giggles.
Previews – Ghostbusters, The 5th Wave, “Preacher”, The Brothers Grimsby, The Bronze
VIDEO – 4.25/5
|PPZ slices onto Blu-ray presented in its original 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and given a 1080p high-definition transfer (MPEG-4 AVC codec). The style from DP Remi Adefarasin (Elizabeth, Match Point) is in keeping with the 19th century era, meaning the temperature is more natural even golden tones but there are some nice pops in color like the Bennet ladies’ dresses. Detail looks sharp and there were no discernible artifacting or aliasing making for a nice looking transfer.|
AUDIO – 4.5/5
|The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track provides clean and clear dialogue levels but really comes to life, so to speak, with the variety of screams when the zombies attack. Ambient noises, as well as the score, make the most out of the front and rear speakers while the LFE channel gives the track much needed depth. It’s not quite reference quality but certainly remarkable enough.|
OVERALL – 3.5/5
|Overall, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is not a great movie, even by zombie standards, but the comedic moments work and the cast is nicely put together highlighted by Lily James and Sam Riley in the lead roles, though Lena Headey and Charles Dance aren’t used as effectively. Given the box office, it’s unlikely we’ll see the sequel teased in the post-credit sequence unless it gets a network deal of some sort. The Blu-ray released by Sony has good video/audio transfers and a passable selection of bonus material to peruse.|
Title Also Available on 4K UHD
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.