Directed by: Burr Steers
Screenplay by: Burr Steers
Based on the book by: Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
Starring: Lily James, Sam Riley, Jack Huston, Bella Heathcote, Douglas Booth, Matt Smith, Charles Dance, and Lena Headey
POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD, PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK!
Seth Grahame-Smith is the same guy who brought us the book Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and the horrible movie adaption of the same name; so it's with some trepidation that I went to see Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. However, I was keeping an open mind since I rather enjoyed the book itself. Grahame-Smith's novels (Unholy Night, The Last American Vampire, and his Marvel Zombies Return: Hulk) have been quite good and entertaining so I held out hope for PP&Z.
The casting was good. Lily James does a great job as the ass-kicking Elizabeth Bennett. Her scowls and awkward smiles were quite adorable, but when she went into full Zombie-Killer mode, watch out! Now this was quite a change from her roles in Cinderella (Cinderella) and Downton Abbey (Lady Rose MacClare), I will even go so far as to say she may have expanded her acting career into action roles if she so chooses. Sam Riley as Mr. Darcy was perfect. He played the role with an understated tone and when needed, turned into Samurai Jack. Riley's best roles to date have been in Maleficent (Diaval), Control (Ian Curtis), and On the Road (Jack Kerouac/Sal Paradise), none, however, allowed him to show his action side. The actors who made the most of their limited screen time were of course, Matt Smith (Doctor Who) as Parson Collins, Charles Dance (Game of Thrones) as Mr. Bennett, and Lena Headey (Game of Thrones) as Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
The good stuff: The story was what you would expect from a mash-up of two VERY different genres. When focused on the love story and traditional Pride & Prejudice themes the movie was well acted and quite good, and when focused on the Zombie theme was still quite good. There were some laughs to be had at some of the situations that these well known characters were put into, and some unintentional laughs as well from just awkward moments. There weren't many slow or boring times throughout the movie and the action was well done. The movie wasn't long and you never felt like you were waiting for it to be over.
Now for the gripes. Not enough zombies. Now don't get me wrong, they showed a few zombie hordes and there was one scene with a lot of them in a confined space, but overall they needed more zombies in fights with the main characters. The lack of blood was also a bit underwhelming. I'm not a gore fanatic by any means but if you're making a movie about zombies, we're expecting a high amount of blood and gore. I found it lacking in this movie. On several occasions during and after a zombie fight, we can plainly see the main characters weapons clean, no blood or flesh on them. What's up with that? They made plot point out of four men all in black with top hats a few times. We were led to believe that they were the four horsemen of the apocalypse and that we would see a showdown between them and our heroes. Did we? Nope. They were forgotten. Lastly... MORE LENA HEADEY! She's an amazing actress and can kick-ass when needed (see Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and 300: Rise of an Empire), so why not show us this supposed toughest woman in England reduce zombies to piles of flesh?
All in all, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies was an entertaining action/love film. Well directed, well acted, and a novel idea, miles ahead of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. We would love to see a sequel or even a prequel to show us how the whole zombie infection started. Go watch this when it hits theatres this Friday February 5th!
7 out of 10 stars