Film Review: Hard to Find a Point to ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’

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CHICAGO – Having not read this best-selling source novel, I had a hard time understanding the point of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.’ Amazingly, it falls short as both a zombie movie and a satire of the original Jane Austin “Pride and Prejudice” story, which was its only achievement as a final result. Oscarman rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

Whether the source novel would unlock anything, I cannot know, because I have no desire to pursue the tale beyond the film. As an admirer of Jane Austin’s novel, it was surprising that the screenplay adaptation played it pretty straight, which had no oomph or reaction beyond, “wow, Elizabeth Bennett sure kicks ass in this version.” The zombies existed to show their oozing faces (both puss and blood, Thanks Obama) and to provide the zombies fighters – which included all of the Bennett sisters, Mr. Darcy and other familiar Austin-nites – with fodder for quality kills. There was nothing that hadn’t been done in a million other zombie movies, and simply placing it within the parlor manors of a Jane Austin environment was not enough to make it any more original. In a word, meh.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.” Ha-ha, that’s the first line of the movie, which satirizes the epic first line of Austin’s novel so limply that the movie starts with a thud. Yep, the Bennet sisters are zombie fighters, because a zombie hoard has taken over England in the late 1700s. Elizabeth (Lily James) is the leader of her sister gang, and catches the eye of fellow zombie ass-kicker Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley).

There is a long explanation of who has what British territory, but essentially the zombies are held off by a big moat and one bridge to London. Jane Bennet (Bella Heathcoate) favors another Z-fighter, Mr. Bingley (Douglas Booth), and the story of Austin manners and expression are mixed with several skirmishes with the brain eating undead, especially those trapped in a netherworld of St. Lazarus (get it?) church. The final battle is nigh, and all the skills must be applied.

“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” opens everywhere on February 5th. Featuring Lily James, Sam Riley, Bella Heathcoate, Douglas Booth, Jack Huston and Sally Phillips. Screenplay adapted by and directed by Burr Steers. Rated “PG-13” (Oozing faces for all!)

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Hail, Caesar!”

Lily James
Lily James (center) as Elizabeth Leads the Undead Hunters in ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’
Photo credit: Sony Pictures Releasing

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Hail, Caesar!”

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