reviews... - February 10, 2016

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – Five Reasons You’ll Love It
by Sean
by Sean hmv Toronto, Bio Goth, cats, tats and words. Varda the message.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – Five Reasons You’ll Love It

It was announced way back in 2009, so it was a bit surprising when a release date and trailer finally arrived last year for the film of Seth Grahame-Smith’s book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Multiple directors and actors had been attached to the project (Natalie Portman was to star at one point), but all had fallen by the wayside. Had Hollywood decided that Jane Austen and the undead did not mix?

Yes, remember Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? In an odd (some would say blasphemous) juxtaposition, Grahame-Smith had taken Jane Austen’s classic comedy of manners, Pride and Prejudice, now in the public domain, and rewritten it with zombies. Traditionalists gnashed their teeth, but the public made it a best-seller, inspiring the similar literary mash-up Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and the film Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, co-scripted by Grahame-Smith.

Filming on the Austen update finally began in late 2014, and the finished product, full of petticoats and putrefied flesh, awaits us in cinemas tomorrow (February 11th). So is it as refreshing as morning tea or as rotten as a shambling corpse? To our great surprise, pride, prejudice, and zombies prove to be a winning cinematic combination. We caught an advance screening; here’s why we think you should have no prejudice against Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.


Matt Smith sheds Dr. Who

For many of us, Matt Smith will forever be Doctor Who. The British actor played the titular Time Lord in three series of the popular BBC show and was so winning that he managed to make fezzes cool. His post-Who career was slow to take off, with appearances in American films like Ryan Gosling’s flawed directorial debut Lost River and the bloated Terminator Genisys, neither of which showcased him to his best. But here, as the obsequious Parson Collins, Smith is the film’s highlight, stealing his every scene.


Austen and action kick butt…

Yes, there is a novelty factor in seeing young women in petticoats kill zombies, but does the juxtaposition of Austen’s amazing dialogue and action work? Surprisingly, yes. There are two scenes where the actors deliver challenging dialogue while also kicking butt. The funniest is the confrontation between our heroine Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) and her would-be suitor Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley). Elizabeth believes Darcy has done her sister wrong so, given that she is skilled in the arts of war, she decides to take him on with fists and knives as well as sharp words. They prove to be a match for each other, both in fighting skills and argument… and maybe love?


Scaredy-cats can watch it too…

Gorehounds hoping to see undead blood run freely across the English countryside will have to wait for the inevitable unrated version of the film. This version of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is very much a PG-13 one, meaning that zombies do get their heads blown off, but we only see a few frames of the carnage before the scene switches elsewhere. That means that those curious about the movie but possessing, shall we say, delicate sensibilities can enjoy it without losing their proverbial lunch.


Austen has not been offended…

Literary purists doubtless thought that mashing-up Jane Austen with a supposed “lesser” genre like horror was an abomination, and they will be no less offended by this onscreen version of Austen. But even those who venerate Ms. Austen’s novel will have to admit that writer-director Burr Steers has preserved both the beating heart and pulsing brain of her work, even if it has been crossbred with ravenous zombies.


Young women have a smart (and ass-kicking) role model…

Elizabeth Bennet has long been a literary role model for young women. Austen’s heroine defies her fate, to be, essentially, auctioned off to the highest (and most socially acceptable) bidder, via marriage, in order to bring wealth and prestige to her family. Actress Lily James (Cinderella) brings both an emotional and physical strength to the role; she stands up to her mother and suitors in order to maintain her independence and she can decapitate a zombie like nobody’s business. Who would not want her daughter to emulate that?


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