Pride and Prejudice was first published in 1813. The novel is a clever commentary on class structure, upbringing and love. It had everything you could hope for in a romantic period novel…except for one thing, apparently – Zombies.
Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) cowrote the book, which has now been adapted for film. This version takes the very familiar tale of Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) and her gaggle of unmarried sisters, but turns them into zombie-slaying ninjas. (This idea is still no more bizarre than the farting corpse movie at Sundance.) Mr. Darcy is a colonel in the British Imperial Army and has a knack for taking on the undead as well.
PPZ follows the familiar story very closely, often too closely. Darcy and Lizzy Bennet start off despising each other. Lily James (Cinderella, Downton Abbey) is just perfect as Elizabeth Bennet. She maintains the sneer on her face that is caused by her distrust in particular men and from years of Shaolin training. She’s always ready to retaliate, whether by clever retort or with a blade. It’s only when Darcy sees the impressive warrior skills of Elizabeth, that he starts to fall for her. Sam Riley (Maleficent, On The Road) plays Darcy as a bitter, downbeat warrior. This is not the Colin Firth you are looking for.
The downside to this movie is that it plays things a bit safe. It’s very PG-13, meaning there is little blood. Also, the zombie-slaying scenes are close-up action and through quick cuts. Throughout most of the fights, it’s difficult to see what’s going on. The makeup for the zombies is fantastic. Unfortunately, the zombies are sparingly seen. This movie would more accurately be called “Pride and Prejudice and a few zombies.”
I don’t think it’s unfair to say that if you are a fan of any of the Pride and Prejudice movies/book, you will like this movie. It has all the elements of the original story with a slight undead edge. By not going too far over the top, it probably works better as a great date movie, than a violent romp. Now that I’ve seen this version, I don’t think I’d be able to watch any other version of the story.
This is a fun movie and a funny movie. Fans of Doctor Who will be happy that Matt Smith gets his chance to steal scenes and chew a bit of scenery. Game of Thrones fans will be happy to see Charles Dance and Lena Headey in the mix. The twists on the class system and the motives of the character relationships keep this version of Pride and Prejudice fresh enough to stand out in the pack of dozens of adaptations. B-