Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Movie Review #377: "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" (2016)

Movie"Pride and Prejudice and Zombies"
Ticket Price: $12.50
Director: Burr Steers
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 48 minutes
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The Bennet sisters are in search of husbands in zombie-infested 19th century England. 

This movie is exactly what the title suggests, it's "Pride & Prejudice" with zombies. The basic outline of the story follows Jane Austen's classic novel, but set in a world that is infested with hoards of the undead. These zombie elements are cleverly intertwined with the classic literary tale in a very tongue-in-cheek manner. All the characters here are those found in "Pride & Prejudice," except now, they have been given a more dangerous environment where they must have survival and combat capabilities in order to remain alive in this zombie-eat-brain world. Lily James plays Elizabeth Bennet, a woman who is more than willing to speak her mind and doesn't exactly conform to social norms. Wait a second, Lily James in a period piece?! HUH! We never saw that coming! Over the course of the film, she has interactions with many potential suitors, namely Mr. Darcy, played by Sam Riley, who can be arrogant with an abrasive personality and thinks highly of himself while finding any excuse to look down on others; Parson Collins, played by Matt Smith, who has ideas about a wife's place in the home which do not involve the art of combat, something in which Elizabeth cannot abide; and George Wickham, played by Jack Huston, a leftenant in the military who seems to say all the right things and appears to have high ideals. Set in a time where women were essentially married off like chattel and given away to men like property, Elizabeth actually wants to have affections with the man she'll eventually marry. What a concept.

Being a PG-13 movie, the zombie attacks are mostly handled through cut-away shots, keeping the blood and gore to a minimum. A few zombie heads are popped like a balloon when shot, though the splatters are relatively small compared to those of other zombie fare like "The Walking Dead," which has way more violence than this film. We can't help but wonder what an R rating could have done to help out "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," and it's not like it could have hurt its box office anymore than it was already hurting. Through all the pomp and circumstance of the 19th century, there's really only the occasional zombie attack that happens as characters must dispose of their undead nemeses hoard by hoard. And how do people know how to fight against the zombies, you might be asking yourself? Well, Elizabeth and her four sisters, Jane, played by Bella Heathcoate, Lydia, played by Ellie Bamber, Mary, played by Millie Brady, and Kitty, played by Suki Waterhouse, have all been trained in the ancient arts of fighting via an odd side narrative about how people in the 19th century either needed to combat training in either Japan, where the rich, elite snobs like Mr. Darcy trained, or China, where those less fortunate and the "every man" train.

This brings in an interesting third element to the table in a relatively "audience-less" film. The book "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" has a cult following, so those who liked the book are sure to want to see the movie. When this fan base is stripped away, however, there is virtually no other "category" of people this movie might possibly appeal to, and we mean so in a general sense. It's too "Pride and Prejudice" for men, too "Zombie" for some women, and too 19th century for the kid and teen demographic. We're willing to wager those who are 13-18 won't be engrossed in this movie given its stiff, stuffy language, so who, pray tell, was this movie made for exactly? Don't get us wrong, there is a lot of good in "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" and we enjoyed watching it for the most part. The set design and art direction look cool as classic British estates are outfitted with medieval looking spikes to keep the zombies at bay. This film has an interesting take on the zombie mythology and how they act is quite unique to this story. The third act is quite exciting as it all comes to a head in an epic-ish climax. However, the first two acts completely meander along at a dreadfully slow pace, even for a movie less than two hours in length. For us, there's too much "Pride and Prejudice" and not enough "Zombies," which we fear has alienated a large majority of potential audience goers. Some scenes look like they have been washed with Instagram filters and a fish-eye camera lens for no apparent reason, the most egregious offender being a dinner sequence where the entire side portions of the scene are blurry. Not all of the acting is great, either, though Lily James and Jack Huston are great. In the end, this movie is still much more enjoyable than we had expected it to be, but it's not without its glaring flaws.

My Rating: 6.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 42%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "Black Sea"

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