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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 02.04.16] post apocalyptic zombies drama

I don't understand the appeal of Seth Grahame-Smith's "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies." As a fan of Austen, I could never quite figure out why anyone would feel the need to mix the literary classic with the zombie apocalypse. If the goal was simply to turn Lizzie Bennet into a more independent woman, then Grahame-Smith missed the point of Austen's novel. But alas, I digress.

I had no interest in the book and just as little in the upcoming adaptation. And then the trailer happened. For a moment, I allowed myself a modicum of excitement: this might actually work!

It doesn't.

Adapted by Burr Steers who also takes on directing duties, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies picks up in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. In this universe, most people are trained in the fine arts of fighting, the super rich traveling to Japan for training while the less well-to-do settle for the Chinese style. Lizzie and her sisters are all trained warriors who spend as much time honing their skills as they do appeasing their mother who is adamant the daughters marry well. After all, it's perfectly acceptable that the women can kill zombies and protect themselves and the men but god forbid they be allowed to inherit land! Again, I digress.

Steers' movie hits all the major points of Austen's novel; Lizzie's contrarian attitude towards what is considered "appropriate" female behaviour for the times, her mother's salacious gossip, her sister's troubled romance with Mr. Bingley and her own with Mr. Darcy. The problem is that the movie straddles the line between Austen's story and the zombie outbreak rather badly. There isn't enough character development for any of the relationships to work and the fight sequences, though fun, feel like they're simply crammed in for the sake of having girls swing around some swords, shoot some guns and kill some zombies. I love that as much as the next girl but the women kicking ass while wearing corsets worked better when the movie was called Underworld or, for that matter, The Matrix.

What's particularly bothersome is that Lily James and Sam Riley are rather good as the eternal Lizzie and Mr. Darcy. James in particular is really fantastic, selling the period drama with aplomb while just as easily slipping into warrior mode. Also of note is one-time Doctor Matt Smith who adds a great twist to the character of Parson Collins, making him both the comedy relief and perhaps one of the most interesting approaches to the character I've ever had the pleasure of seeing.

Though the fight sequences are well choreographed, there aren't enough of them to qualify this as an action movie and there isn't enough of the heart that makes Austen's story a perennial classic to really sell the drama. While it's initially fun to watch, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies gets tediously repetitive in its structure of Austen-zombies-Austen-zombies ad nauseam. I can only hope that the adaptations of these ridiculous cross over novels starts and stops here.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies opens February 5.

Recommended Release: Underworld

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Michael (6 years ago) Reply

Good, fun movie. Simple as that.

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