Sunday, February 28, 2016

Pride And Prejudice And Zombies

Year: 2016
Director: Burr Steers
Cast: Lily James, Sam Riley, Bella Heathcote, Douglas Booth, Matt Smith, Lena Headey, Charles Dance, Jack Huston

Plot: The five lovely Bennet sisters deal with the pressures of finding a husband while surviving a growing horde of zombies in 18th century England.

Review: I had never seen Pride And Prejudice starring Keira Knightley, which is widely praised, nor have I read the book. And while this version of the well known Jane Austen novel as re-imagined by Seth Grahame-Smith and directed by Burr Steers has the potential of being fun, I wasn't sure if I was ready to dive into a period romance flick.

Rest assured, especially for guys who can't stand romantic movies, Pride And Prejudice And Zombies is a ball of fun, violence and charm, though admittedly, the violence is a bit tamer than the kind you'd see on The Walking Dead. While this film has plenty of zombies in it, it also puts equal focus on the love lives of the Bennet sisters, particularly the leading character Elizabeth Bennet.

It's 18th century England, and the zombie plague has killed many and turned plenty of them into the undead. Mr Darcy, a skilled zombie hunter, accompanies his friend Mr Bingley to a dance, where he meets the strong-willed Elizabeth Bennet, who unlike her sisters, isn't too keen on finding a suitor, much to her mother's chagrin. The two get off on the wrong foot, but continuously bump into each other, half of those times with a zombie or two in their presence. Elizabeth and her sisters however are no damsels. They are perfectly capable of looking after themselves in the face of a zombie attack. So will Liz and Darcy put their animosity aside long enough to fall in love and survive the zombies? Does that question even need answering?

To his credit, Burr Steers keeps his film moving briskly with a witty script and zombie killing action. I've learned that the film is pretty accurate as far as Austen's novel is concerned, except in this case, we have zombies thrown into the mix. Be warned though, this isn't a serious drama nor an action movie set in a zombie apocalypse. PPZ is a love story, much like the original Pride And Prejudice, with some zombie action. What makes the film work is the healthy amount of charm, humor and romance Steers throws in.

The cast all perform very well, but the show truly belongs to Lily James and Sam Riley as Elizabeth and Darcy respectively. James is stubborn to a fault, but very likable as Liz. Riley plays Darcy as unsociable and proud, but a man of honor. The two have great chemistry together and look convincing as a couple. Matt Smith succeeds as the film's defacto joke centre, Mr Collins, while Game Of Thrones' Lena Headey and Charles Dance put in solid work as Lady Catherine de Bourgh and the Bennet patriarch respectively.

If I have to fault the film, it's the action sequences set at night, which are too dark to make out. It would have also been nice if some supporting characters like the other Bennet sisters and Elizabeth's best friend Charlotte had received more screen time, but it's a minor complaint.

PPZ may not be as action packed as Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Grahame-Smith's other adaptation, but it's a lot of fun, even if you're not into period films. Oh, and stay during the credits for one last scene. (7/10) 

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