After writing several reviews on this year's Oscar films, I felt it were time to take a quick break and go for something completely different, and what film better to pick than Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, a fun time at the cinema with just enough bite and style to make the rather crazy hybrid genre premise work. It's essentially Downton Abbey meets Zombieland, yet at times this film never fully embraces its undead counterpart which can be a tad frustrating.
Starting off with the positives, this is one sexy and stylish film! There is an unbroken take of the stunning Lily James with Bella Heathcote and co. in costume, who each unsheathe their swords and take out a group of hungry zombies. They all look the part, teeth gritted and with faces of intensity, it is so hot and in slow motion it was glorious. Just look at Lily James here.
The film excels when it's being silly and showing off its humour. Matt Smith, who was the weakest Doctor Who, in my opinion, and was totally wasted in Terminator Genisys, actually gets the chance to shine here and he is very funny as a bumbling man of society, eager to impress eligible wives. Lena Headey, too, is a hoot in a much lighter role, but when you have an actress like Headey, you must use her action chops as well as her dramatic skill, and she is barely given any action scenes which is a massively missed opportunity.
Sally Phillips, Suki Waterhouse, Sam Riley, Douglas Booth, Charles Dance, the list of talent goes on and on and they each bring something different and memorable to the table, particularly Sally Phillips who is clearly having a blast as an over encouraging mother. The zombie make-up is impressive, and the bridge explosion is pretty spectacular, it's bursts of action like this that keep PPZ above average.
The negatives, however, do bring the films full potential down. The gore and violence is never fully embraced, there is a fair bit of arterial spray and the odd exploding head but decapitations are never shown, bones don't break and with the 15 rating, this feels awfully neutered gore. The tone also wobbles from time to time, at times delightfully campy and absolutely British in humour, yet seriousness regularly creeps in and it is rather jarring, completely undermining the solid campiness that the film really works well with. And again, Lena Headey's never given any action, you've seen her as Cersei Lannister, Ma-Ma and Queen Gorgo, you know she's capable and owns the screen!
Despite a few problems, I found this film to be good fun and definitely will be worth watching again, I feel I may enjoy it more a second time round. The acting is fine thanks to a terrific cast, the action sequences and inventive kills are gleefully silly and I surprisingly enjoyed both blended genres. Rating: 7.0