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Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Lily James and Bella Heathcote star in Screen Gems' PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES

If they keep it simple and relatively crazy, movies like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies can find a way to work. Just based on the concept alone, that’s one of the things that this had working for it, but we all know that the ability to execute is what will ultimately turn something like this into either a movie that produces either sheer entertainment or complete embarrassment. While all the pieces appear to be in place for some kind of success, it’s hard to see this as being entertaining.

In this reimagining of Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s classic story about love and class in the 19th century England, a zombie outbreak looks to be overwhelming the country. Everyone is trying their best to survive as they face off with the undead, but Elizabeth Bennett (Lily James), Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley) and plenty others prove that there’s always room for love in the eyes of some people. While that’s normal for most people to want to focus on something like love, they can’t fully do that at this moment. In order for that to happen, they just might have to repress their feelings just enough so that they can bring the zombies’ reign of terror to an end.

As with many of us, the interesting premise got my attention when I first heard of it. I’m not usually into these kinds of movies from this period, but adding a few zombies can certainly make for a unique twist on something that’s difficult for people like me to get into. Unfortunately, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies suffers from poor execution in just about every way.

Of course, this is heavily relying on Jane Austen’s world renowned writings, but they actually rely on that far more than they should have. They do this by creating zombies that are extremely weak and pose no threat to anyone in the movie. Right from the start, you’ll realize this when some of the characters obliterate them without any sense of a struggle whatsoever. In that sense, it forces the rest of the film to do too much.

One of the key pieces to any kind of drama seen in film is the sense of a threat coming from somewhere, but there can be no threat when the villains get effortlessly dismantled every single time they show up on camera. This doesn’t allow for any of them to make their presence felt at all, so it becomes rather stale, uneventful and largely forgettable. The way this is handled makes you think that maybe they didn’t even care about this portion of the film.

That’s crazy when you think about it since it’s one of the movie’s main selling points. Not only that, but because they’re zombies, you would expect them to do things that zombies do. I bring this up, because I honestly don’t recall ever seeing any of the zombies actually kill any living beings on screen. With all of the blood being spilled, it would have been nice if at least a small bit of it was by the hands of the undead who are supposed to be taking over the land.

Instead of getting what anyone would anticipate, audiences get large chunks of down time in between the scenes where the zombies get annihilated by anyone with a weapon. There are a couple of love stories thrown in, but it’s hard to even remember or even care about that stuff. I also think there may have been a couple of jokes in there somewhere as well, but those were also tough to find.

Rating: PG-13

Director: Burr Steers

Cast:
Lily James
Sam Riley
Jack Huston
Bella Heathcote
Douglas Booth
Matt Smith
Charles Dance
Lena Headey

Film Length: 108 minutes

Release Date: February 5, 2016

Distributor: Screen Gems

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